It was obvious that the matter of remote work would not be ignored in terms of legislation. Considering an incredible popularization of working remotely and from home, a question has arisen as to whether the state would exert its control over it. It is to this end that the Ukrainian Parliament, Verkhovna Rada, has passed a law regulating remote work and work from home. The law also contains explanations of the two kinds of work, as well as conditions for the labor contract, rights, and obligations of parties. It is worth finding out to what extent this law has influenced the working conditions of ordinary Ukrainians.
It will be recalled that the issue of remote work in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic has touched not only educational institutions, but also the labor market. A few attempts have been undertaken during this period with a view to institutionalizing this practice at the legislative level. In view of the rigid quarantine measures being introduced in the spring of 2020, it was crucial to take decisions regarding not only the fight against the pandemic, but also living conditions in general.
Coronavirus has left its imprint on the country’s economics. Working conditions have also undergone profound changes within shortest periods of time. People have been forced to adapt to the uncontrolled influence of the pandemic. Remote work has been a lifeline during the transition period. Thus, some employers have discovered new opportunities to do business under new circumstances. It may be assumed that an irreversible process has been launched with all its ups and downs up to this very day.
It has become clear that many organizations would continue working on the remote basis well after the pandemic would be over. This is especially true about the IT field. When the old disappears, the new takes its place. The same goes for the situation in the IT field, which saw a surge in internet sales and an active development of delivery services. Everything that could have functioned remotely, did so. Hence, those specialists have grown in demand who would be able to provide such services in the long run. Gigantic companies are doubtless interested in organizing their work in a way that no pandemic or any other threats would endanger their income or productivity. A wide range of companies that see remote work as a step forward is well known. These are Google, Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, etc. From the financial perspective, such a decision seems wise given the lower rents and utilities, as well as decrease in other expenses that go with office work. According to the statistics, over 35% of the population of the country has started working remotely since the onset of the pandemic.
A need has arisen to change labor legislation. At first, the Labor Code was changed. It was necessary to quickly and precisely explain the definitions of remote work and work from home, as well as of a flexible schedule. Such steps might have seemed as temporary measures. However, when it became clear that the pandemic would not abate and only gain in steam with an increase in the number of the contracted, the issue of remote work became relevant again. There was a new need of a law, since adding new changes into the existing ones would not suffice.
In November 2020, the question of a legislative regulation of remote work was raised once again. In February 2021 Verkhovna Rada passed a law regulating remote work and work from home. As has already been mentioned above, the law contained the exact explanation of all the definitions regarding work from home and remote work.
Work from home is a work status implying completion of work at the place of residence or in other places as defined by the labor contract upon the availability of technical equipment.
The main prerequisite for work from home lies in the employees’ right to change their place of work without any further notice to or consent from the employer. In this case the employee must notify the employer no later than three days before change of place. The employee cannot be denied the right for change of place of work without any sensible reasons.
The conditions for work from home according to the labor contract are treated as regular regarding working hours, renumeration and labor rights. The conditions are subject to change only if the labor contract contains changes or any other nuances.
Remote work is a work status, according to which the employer (contractor) and employee (supplier) are located over a significant distance from one another with work being completed outside the work place or the territory of the proprietor at any other place chosen by the employee with the use of informational and communicational technologies provided by the employer.
In this case, the employee may be provided with all necessary equipment and reimbursed for the expenses connected to it. The employees may determine the place of work for themselves. According to the labor contract, they are also entitled to a rest during the working hours.
The employees may also opt for remote work in case they have been subjected to any acts of discrimination. This is only allowed on the condition that such scenario is set out in the contract and for no longer than two months.
In both cases the employees sign a labor contract and have to familiarize themselves with the rules of the internal labor order, the collective contract and other documents. This may take place during both an in-person meeting and remotely via email. The employer may also inquire about the place of work completion.
There is still an opportunity in place to mix regular work with that completed remotely if this is provided for in the contract considering the rules mentioned above.
The employees will be offered another bonus – according to the law, the schedule of remote work may be flexible and discussed with the employer. This, in turn, means that –
• the working day will be quite flexible and may be split into several parts;
• the employees will be able to arrange their schedules for themselves;
• the times for rest and lunch breaks may be changed.
All of these conditions are to be discussed and applied only when possible and not to the detriment of the working process. Moreover, the employer reserves the right to establish regular operating practices when needed. All these nuances are to be discussed with each employee individually and documented in the labor contract.
To sum up, it is safe to assume that the new regulations cover a large number of issues related to remote work. Still, there are many aspects that are to be settled and clarified in the labor contract between the employee and employer. The law does not provide answers to all of the questions. It simply indicates the direction for operating procedures by controlling and maintaining them.