Working from home is not a new phenomenon in Slovakia. Amongst employees it is one of the most frequently used and popular benefits, particularly in large corporations in the IT and consultancy (advisory) sectors. Notwithstanding, no particular legal regulation on the obligations of the employers, as well as the employees with respect to the home office (in Slovak: práca z domu), exists in the Slovak Labour laws to date. Slovak Labour Code only regulates work from home and telework (in Slovak: domácka práca a telepráca), but this is a separate situation reflecting the fact that the employee works only from home or any other agreed place. Our article below deals with the home office as many employers are recommending and suggesting their employees partially do this to protect their health.
Slovak National Labour Authority’s response to COVID-19
In the current situation where many businesses are disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are taking a wide range of measures to eliminate the negative economic impacts and ensure continuity of services provided. In response the Slovak labour authorities recommend that employers encourage their employees to work from home, if possible, taking into consideration the character and type of work performed. In this context a number of legal, as well as practical issues arise each day. To shed more light on this topic, the Slovak National Labour Authority recently published a commendatory statement on some home office specifics.
Equip employees suitably
If an employer wants their employees to work from home, they should first agree on it, and at the same time, they should also equip them adequately, especially technically. This is important given that the COVID-19 situation can be exploited by third parties wishing to attack the organisation's infrastructure during potentially reduced response capabilities, so increased surveillance is needed. Therefore, it is necessary to instruct employees about the risk of cyberattacks, which are related, inter alia, to home office use. However, simply giving employees a manual on how to log in securely to the work network does not mean that the employer has done everything essential.
If the employer does not provide equipment for the employee to perform the work remotely, it should be agreed by both the employer and employee, and the employer should compensate them using their own equipment - most often a notebook. Please remember that the employer´s prior consent is also required for separate usage of own equipment / items necessary for the performance of work. In addition to such an agreement, the Slovak National Labour Inspectorate recommends and encourages compensation for the use of such equipment, as well as related costs - electricity, internet connection, telephone services, etc. This may be agreed and included directly in the employment contract (which is rare), a separate agreement between the employer and employee concluded anytime during the employment relationship regulating the usage of own equipment, and/or in a collective agreement if applicable. In the absence of such an agreement, the employee is not entitled to claim any compensation.
We should also not forget about protection of employees when working with display units, especially notebooks. So, in addition to providing a safe and healthy environment (desktop and stand-alone workplaces, including lighting and seating), which depends on each employee, it is important to remember that notebook monitors are not suitable for all-day work. Therefore, in addition to the recommended breaks at work, at the latest after four hours of continuous work with the display unit, employees should be equipped with an external monitor. This should be height adjustable, with the top of the screen set at eye level. The size of the monitor is at the discretion of each employer, while the law requires only proportional size, reflecting the employee´s work.
In addition to an external monitor, the responsible employer should also pack an ergonomic keyboard and mouse into the bag. Notebook keyboards and touchpads do not meet the requirements for all-day and long-term work.
Last reviewed: 01 April 2020