The Research department of the European
Trade Union Institute (ETUI) has conducted a study on the
"Future of Remote Work" and has explored important questions in
various chapters. On 19 July, "Remote
work: fundamental questions and the way forward" event took place,
where the study and individual contents were discussed in more detail.
What is "remote work"?
and foremost, "remote work" refers to telework, i.e. work using
information and communication technologies such as smartphones, tablets,
laptops, which takes place outside a physical workplace at an employer.
This form of work has increased
significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes that the pandemic
brought about in terms of the organisation and performance of work are now
shaping large parts of the world of work. In the meantime, teleworking or
rather - hybrid working - has become the standard wherever possible and is
widely welcomed by both employers and employees.
The fundamental change - according to the
study, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) speaks of a
"multi-location approach" - naturally raises various questions:
- How and where is the work
carried out and what are the legal consequences?
- How does the
"multi-location approach" influence working life?
- What is the ecological and
social impact of this form of work?
Decoupling from the "workplace"
Increasing remote work means that the
traditional model of the employment relationship must and will be questioned.
The discussion that is taking place in the European Union (EU) about platform
work is primarily about how to deal with this change in traditional working
relationships. In the trialogue on the proposed
directive to improve the working conditions of platform workers, the
so-called Platform Working - The Trialogue Begins / Deutsche Sozialversicherung Europavertretung (dsv-europa.de) that are to be relevant for this are
especially in dispute between the Member States. The question of
"subordination" or better the authority to issue instructions as a
traditional criterion is also examined more closely in the study.
The study also looks at the issue of
cost-based outsourcing in relation to labour markets in the US, UK and India
and shows that outsourcing regularly makes working conditions worse for
workers. In legal terms, too, much remains open or unregulated.
The legal framework for remote work is a
very fundamental issue, as it is not only about the actual working conditions
(i.e. where, how, how often and with what one works), but also, for example,
about the consequences for the coordination of applicable legislation when
employer and employee are based in different countries.
In the EU, since
1 July 2023, the possibility of an exemption agreement according to Art. 16
Regulation (EC) No. 883/2004 is offered so that appropriate social security
allocations can be made in the relevant individual cases when employees live in
a country other than the country of their employer's registered office and work
there from home.
Ecological and social aspects
The study also explores the question of
whether remote working makes a meaningful contribution to ecological change and
clarifies that less commuting and office use do not necessarily mean energy
From a social point of view, the study is
critical of the fact that remote work divides the workforce, as not all jobs or
professions are suitable for it and it is more likely that higher qualified
people have this option and can use it. The role of trade unions is also
discussed, as their field of action has changed considerably as a result of
remote work. They are confronted with new demands regarding the protection of
their members. Moreover, they face problems in reaching those workers who do
remote work from different locations as so-called "digital nomads".