The rules for the home office have changed with the amendment to the Labor Code starting in October. People with children under nine or those caring for their close ones can now request their employers to allow them to work from home, have a shorter work schedule, or arrange alternative working hours. Employers would need to provide a written explanation if they reject such requests.
The concept of home office does not automatically apply to individuals caring for small children or disabled relatives, as initially proposed. Although the amendment still favors them, they are not legally entitled to work from home as originally planned.
The new Labor Code also states that employers can no longer require pregnant women or parents of children under one year to work overtime.
If an employee who does not fall into any of the above categories requests remote work, the employer can reject the request without providing a reason.
The Scope of Remote Work
“Remote work is a broader term than working from home and can be applied to all cases where an employee and an employer agree on performing work outside the employer’s premises, such as from a cottage, a cabin, or any other location,” stated Eduarda Hekšová, the director of the consumer organization dTest.
Hekšová further emphasized that the amendment to the Labor Code does not provide specific guidelines on how to justify the rejection of a home office request. This lack of clarity may lead to extreme interpretations, where any justification would be considered sufficient. Although in practice, as in the past, most employees and employers will come to a reasonable agreement, the vague boundary for refusing the right to remote work for specific groups of employees may result in legal disputes.
According to Hekšová, this opens up opportunities for collective bargaining and establishing detailed rules for remote work in the employer’s internal regulations.
Compensation for Expenses
According to the new regulation related to the home office, individuals working remotely should receive a compensation of 4.60 Czech korunas per hour for incurred costs. If an employee works from home for eight hours a day, five days a month, the lump sum would amount to approximately 180 Czech korunas.
The lump sum is paid to the employee no later than the following month. Employers should contribute to the employee’s electricity, heating, or water expenses for each hour of work if agreed upon in writing or as specified in the company’s regulations.
However, employers and employees can also agree that no compensation is due in writing. The third option remains the reimbursement of actual costs, subject to providing relevant evidence.
“The lump sum compensation will not be subject to income tax for individuals, nor will it be subject to social security and health insurance contributions,” warned Gabriela Ivanco, a tax consultant at Mazars. Such expenses will be considered tax-deductible for employers.
“Reimbursements paid more than the amount set by law will be considered taxable income for employees,” she added.
Changes for Contractors
The Labor Code now also regulates the conditions for contract employment.
It stipulates that employers must plan work schedules for individuals on contracts at least three days in advance.
If the conditions are met, contract workers will be entitled to annual leave and extra pay for work on holidays, weekends, or during the night, starting from next year.
Contractors will be entitled to receive sickness benefits during the payment of contributions, and after six months of work, they can request a regular employment contract.
A written agreement, which employers must conclude with employees by the beginning of November, is now a prerequisite for working from home. This applies to all employees currently allowed to work remotely but have not yet signed a written agreement.
“For legal certainty, it is recommended to define the basic conditions for remote work in the agreement. These include the location(s) of remote work, methods of communication, work schedule and workload, task assignment, and supervision,” advised Anna Kevorkyan from the JenPráce.cz portal.
Termination of Remote Work
The commitment to a work-from-home agreement can be terminated by a written agreement between the employer and the employee on the agreed-upon date. The employer and the employee have the right to terminate the agreement in writing for any reason or without stating a reason, with a notice period of fifteen days.
Furthermore, the Labor Code allows the parties to agree on a different notice period or that neither party can terminate the agreement.