On 1 July 2022, several amendments to the Norwegian regulation on work performed in the employee's home entered into force. In the following, we will give a brief overview of the provisions that has to be included in the agreement.
The regulation on work performed in the employee's home applies for work that employees perform from their own private home, unless the work is short-term or sporadic. Amongst other things, the regulation require that the employer and employee must enter into a written agreement regarding the work from home. Here is an overview of the provisions that has to be included in such an agreement.
- Scope of the work: Working from home is not compatible with all work tasks. Thus, the agreement should contain provisions about when employees can (and cannot) work from home. The agreement should also contain provisions about how often the employees can work from home, for example, 3 days a week or 10 days a month. It can be included in the agreement that the employee's manager may instruct the employee to work from the office if needed. Employers must be aware that home office abroad may have tax consequences for the employer and/or the employee. On this basis, we do not recommend that the agreement allows home office abroad unless employers have examined such tax consequences in advance.
- Working hours: The agreement should contain provisions about working hours when working from home. We note that the provisions on working time in the Working Environment Act Chapter 10 apply as usual. If no special regulation is necessary, the work from home agreement should refer to the employee's regular employment agreement.
- When the employee is required to be available for the employer: Employees working from home might be more difficult to reach than employees that are present at the company's offices. The agreement should therefore contain provisions about when the employee is required to be available/reachable for the employer.
- If the agreement is temporary; expected duration: If the work from home agreement is temporary, it should be stated how long the agreement is applicable and valid.
- Provisions on the right to change or terminate the agreement, including deadlines etc.: The agreement should contain a provision that lets the parties change or terminate the agreement regarding work from home if needed. This is to prevent employees from perceiving the home office scheme as a right in the future. In principle, the employer has the right to instruct employees to work from the office as part of their managerial prerogative, and one should avoid entering into a home office agreement that limits this right.
- Possible provision on a probation period regarding the home office scheme: This point is optional. However, a probation period can be useful as it gives employers the necessary flexibility to terminate or change the home office scheme early if needed.
- Provisions on ownership, operation and maintenance of equipment: The agreement should contain provisions about what kind of equipment the employee needs to have at home to be able to perform their work tasks. The agreement should also regulate whose responsibility it is to procure this equipment, and whether it is the employer or employee that’s supposed to handle the maintenance and cover equipment costs.
- Possible provisions on processing, confidentiality and storage of documents: Employees who handle confidential information as part of their work should be subject to requirements regarding IT security, storage of documents etc. This way, the employer can ensure that confidentiality is maintained even if the employee works from home.
The regulation also stipulate that any changes in the home office scheme should be reflected in the agreement. For large companies, this can be costly in terms of time and resources. One way to reduce the use of time and resources is to create a work from home policy that includes provisions on the points mentioned above. The individual agreement can then refer to the company's current home office policy regarding these questions. This makes it possible for the employer to implement changes to the home office scheme by updating the policy, instead of having each employee sign an updated version of their individual work from home agreements. In addition, a work from home policy will also better safeguard the employers flexibility in organizing the work.
We provide legal advice to many employers regarding the new regulations on working from home. Our employment lawyers can be contacted with questions.