How should telework be regulated?

How to regulate telework to make it more efficient?

The Spain-based "think tank" Fedea has published a report with recommendations to improve the current regulation of telework. The benefits of telework for workers, companies and the economy as a whole are manifold, and it is desirable that some of these changes become permanent, making remote working a key element of the new labour market organisation.  However, according to the authors, the current regulation, hastily introduced in the middle of the pandemic, establishes a complex framework, characterised by a dual regulation in which there are two very different regimes depending on whether or not teleworking time exceeds 30% of the quarterly working time.

Main conclusions of the report:

  • The pre-Pandemic legislation left great freedom to the parties to design by mutual agreement this way of working under the principles of voluntariness and non-discrimination of the teleworker.

  • The new regulation establishes a complex framework, characterized by a dual regulation in which there are two very different regimes depending on whether or not the teleworking time exceeds 30% of the quarterly working day.

  • Below this threshold, telework is considered "unregulated" and is almost completely unregulated. Above this threshold, however, we enter the "regular" telework regime, which is subject to many restrictions that tend to increase its costs.

  • In the authors' view, the risk of this dual regulation is that it tends to push telework just below the 30% threshold, not for efficiency reasons but to avoid regulation and save costs.

  • To take advantage of the opportunities that telework offers, the authors propose to modify the current regulation to include the following basic principles: 
  1. Recover a common regulation of teleworking subject to the principles of voluntariness, non-discrimination, adequate provision of company resources and compensation of costs to the worker.

  2. It is particularly important to eliminate the artificial 30% threshold that only manages to segment the market.

  3. Avoid that teleworking becomes essentially a way to reconcile work and thus increases gender segregation.

  4. Have a general regulation of company monitoring, time recording and digital disconnection.

  5. Maintain the specific regulations in force on occupational risk prevention.

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