Remote work is an employment relationship where the employee is performing his / her duty to work at home within the work organization created by the employer, or outside of the workplace with technological communication tools. Remote work has already been regulated in the Labor Law No. 4857. Even so there was no legislative regulation on its details as it was not preferred frequently in practice. However, the method of working from home has been implemented in many workplaces and for many personnel due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected the whole world since the last period of 2019. In order to resolve the disputes caused by such remote work, the Remote Work Regulation No. 31419 has been published by the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services. According to this regulation published in the Official Gazette of 10.03.2021, the rights and obligations of employers and employees in remote work practice have been settled.
Not All Jobs Are Suitable for Remote Work:
The Regulation also arranges the jobs that cannot be worked remotely. It is regulated that; working with hazardous chemicals and radioactive materials, processing these materials or working with the wastes of these substances and working which involves processes that are at risk of exposure to biological factors can not be done by remote working. The decision on whether to work remotely in terms of units, projects, facilities or services that have strategic importance in terms of national security and the works performed by the public institutions and organizations by purchasing services according to the relevant legislation has been left to the public authority.
Remote Work Contract Shall Be Established In Written Form:
According to the Remote Work Regulation, in jobs where remote work can be done; employment contracts for remote work must be made in written form. The contract shall include the provisions regarding definition of work, the manner of work, the duration and location of the job, the issues relating to wage and the payment of it, the equipment provided by the employer and the obligations related to their protection, the method of contact of employer with the worker and the general and specific working conditions. The time period and duration of the working can be determined according to the mutual agreement of the parties.
Materials and Work Tools Should Be Provided by the Employer:
It is regulated that the materials and work tools required for the production of goods and services for the remote personnel shall be provided by the employer as a rule. Work tools must be embezzled to the employee in written documents which signed by employee, with a list of work tools indicating their cost on the delivery date. However, the opposite of this general rule on the provision of work equipment provided by the employer can also be determined in the employment contract. Mandatory expenses arising from the performance of the work and directly related to the production of goods or services can be determined according to the mutual agreement of the parties.
The Employer Is Obliged to Inform The Employees About Data Security, Occupational Helath And Safety Measures:
The Remote Work Regulation has imposed the employers with obligation to inform remote employees about business rules regarding the protection and sharing of data pertaining to the workplace and their work regarding to data security. And also duty to take the necessary measures to protect this data has been settled on the employers.
There are also regulations regarding occupational health and safety measures in the Remote Work Regulation. By these regulations, employers are responsible for informing its employees about this issue, providing the necessary training, providing health surveillance and taking necessary occupational safety measures regarding the equipment it provides.
A Written Request Of The Employee Is Required For The Transition to Remote Work:
The employment relationship can be established with a remote work contract directly at the beginnig of working. On the other hand, the transition provisions about existing employment relations are regulated as follows:
A written request of the employee is required for the transition to remote work. The compliance audit of this request is left to the employer. While the demand is being evaluated, the suitability to work remotely due to the nature of the job and the worker and other criteria determined by the employer may be used. However, the final decision of the employer on the remote work request must be reported to the employee in written form within thirty days since the request received. If there is a decision to apply the remote working, a written contract shall be made between the employee and the employer in accordance with the provisions of the Regulation and so remote work begins.
Employee May Request To End The Remote Working And Return To Actual Work:
The Remote Work Regulation has entitled the employee who has started working remotely to make a new application with the same procedure to return to actual work. However, this request of remote personnel will be finally evaluated by the employer.
The Remote Work System Can Also Be Brought By The Employer Unilaterally In Some Cases:
Although the joint decision of the employee and employer parties is required for the transition to remote work, it is possible to work remotely in case of a compelling reason within the scope of the Labor Law No.4857 and the relevant legislation. The Regulation specifically states that the request or approval of the employee is not required for transition in such case.
Remote Work Regulation No. 31419 entered into force as of March 10, 2021, which is its publication date. It is expected that the implementation of the provisions of the regulation and the new regulations that it will bring to working life will be shaped in the upcoming period.
Melis Bekar, Attorney At Law.