Teleworking and the right to digital disconnection

As we all know, the number of employees who render services for their respective employers at home, through remote work or teleworking has increased recently.

This gradual transfer of the company’s human resources to the domestic environment has resulted in the loss of a clear perspective of the limits of the working day and the right to rest, which has forced employees to be constantly connected and available.

For quite some time now the authorities have been aware of this potential invasion of the private domain, which is why the objective of the new regulation that came into force a few days ago, the Royal Decree Law 28/2020, on teleworking, is to control this innovative way of working.

With regard to digital disconnection this regulation puts a limit on the use of business communication technological media in rest periods and it demands the respect of the maximum hours of the working day. This means that there are certain periods of the day when the company cannot get in touch with the employee, so that they can rest and be allowed some privacy.

Despite this general limitation and given the fact that this is what has occurred recently, the regulation makes reference to the negotiation with the workers’ representatives, either on a company level or through collective agreements, to draw up an internal policy aimed at defining the ways that the right to digital disconnection can be exercised in cases of total or partial teleworking.

This Royal Decree also provides for the existence of corporate control powers, which means that the company can take the most suitable surveillance and control measures to make sure that employees are indeed complying with their work-related obligations and duties. It can use electronic media, although the dignity and the privacy of the employee in question must always be upheld when the aforesaid measures are taken and used. These powers also have to be developed for new cases that arise.

As we said, this is a new phenomenon for which the new regulation has been drawn up to establish certain rules that will be adapted to specific situations as they occur.

But what is really important is that the first barrier has been put up to protect the employee’s private space from the working world.

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