Spain Issues New Royal Decree Governing Remote Work Arrangements

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Spain's new law introduces relevant regulations for employers and employees. Some of its rules will take effect on October 13, 2020.

While the pandemic has highlighted various advantages and disadvantages of remote work in Spain, to date this way of providing services was not specifically regulated. On September 22, 2020, however, the Royal Decree Law 28/2020 (the "Law") was issued to fill that void. Its general rules take effect on October 13, 2020. Highlights of the Law include:

Definition of Remote Work: The Law defines remote work as providing services from home, or another place chosen by the employee for at least of 30% of the working time over a three-month period. Exceptions apply.

Same Rights as Traditional Workplace Employees: Remote employees have the same rights as employees who work at the company's traditional workplace, including equal treatment, non-discrimination, remuneration, conciliation, and co-responsibility, and the right to modify working hours.

Voluntary Nature: The employer cannot require the employee to work remotely and the employee has no right to remote work, either. The decision to work remotely can be reversed.

Formalities: The Law requires adherence to specific formalities, including creation of an agreement with a minimum prescribed legal content. The terms and conditions of the agreement can be modified in writing with mutual consent of the parties.

Collective Bargaining: Collective bargaining will play a significant role in the development of remote work arrangements in Spain. Under the Law, remote employees have the same rights to collective bargaining as other employees.

Means, Equipment, and Tools: The employer must provide the means, equipment, and tools necessary to carry out the remote work and resolve any technological difficulties that arise.

Expenses: The employer must reimburse the employee's costs of remote work.

Health & Safety: The employer must comply with Spanish Labor Risks' Prevention regulation, accounting for the fact that the employee is rendering services from home. The employer must collect information to assess risks and provide for appropriate protective measures.

Privacy, Data Protection, and the Right to Disconnect: Employers must establish specific rules to address these issues.

Monitoring: Generally, employers may take steps (including electronic measures) to monitor employee compliance with employment obligations, but must respect the employees' right to privacy.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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