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Netherlands becomes one of the first countries to grant remote working flexibility by law

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

The Dutch parliament has approved a legislation forcing employers to consider employee requests to work from home as long as their professions allow it.

It comes as the Covid-19 pandemic changed people’s way of working and living – with many workers demanding more flexibility from their employers.

Currently, employers in Holland are able to deny requests for home working without giving a reason – but under the new legislation, they will be forced to consider the requests carefully and say why they rejected the request.

Dutch businesses have said continuing to allow remote working will facilitate productivity and improve worker satisfaction.

Other European countries have not gone so far as to make working from home a legal right, but Spain offers protection to workers who wish to work remotely. In Portugal, employers are banned from contacting employees outside working hours.

The UK has a long-standing right to request flexible working of any kind, but there has been criticism that the law is very weak and allows employers several broad-based reasons to reject a flexible working request. There is also no legal right of appeal.

Organisations that have told employees to return to the office have faced a backlash. In June, Germany’s largest trade union challenged Elon Musk’s decision to demand Tesla workers return to the office, saying it would support any employee that opposed him.

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