AS a direct result of the COVID-19, Spain’s legal grey area for remote working has finally received a shake-up.

Many companies have been forced to close their doors as the country was engulfed in the coronavirus pandemic, leading to many employees working from home.

This has led the Spanish government to finally rework the remote working royal decree to eliminate some of the confusion for both employers and employees.

Before March 2020, the regulation of remote workers was relatively non existent, meaning many were left in the dark regarding their rights and employer support.

This led the government to enter into months of negotiations to rework the bill, a first draft of which has been announced today.

The decree will only apply to regular remote workers, whose working week includes 30% of their allocated hours over a three month period.

The main emphasis of the bill is that all working-from-home arrangements given to the employee must be organised under a formal agreement, and that anyone wishing to work from home has the right to do so.

This means that employers do not have the right now to terminate a contract if the employee demands to work from home.

From the point of view of the employers, if a large percentage of workers do request to work from home, in order to negate the costs of empty work spaces, legal advice can be sought for potential alternatives.

The decree also allows the employee to amend the contract to return back to the office if their ability to work from home is impaired or the homeworking trial period is unsuccessful.

It also states that any employee working from home will retain the same rights regarding pay, benefits and tools to complete the job at the expense of the employer.

Employees working hours are also now protected and workers reserve the right to ‘switch off’ digitally outside of reasonable hours.

Legal experts do warn however that the draft was born directly out of the need arisen from the pandemic, and therefore there are still areas that will need to be revised.

For example, the wording on the bill is vague and is open to interpretation, meaning many employers will still need to seek legal advice when setting up a work from home contract.

It is expected that the new law will come into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Gazette, around October 13.

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