Employees won't have a right to work from home in the future but need to agree with their employer
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Luxembourg will not change its labour laws to include a right to remote working but will instead update an agreement between employers and trade unions, a debate in parliament on Monday concluded.
A petition demanding the right to remote working be enshrined in law received 5,842 signatures, well above the 4,500 needed to prompt a debate between the petitioners, lawmakers and the government.
“Everyone agrees that we should promote teleworking where it’s possible,” said labour minister Dan Kersch (LSAP) during the debate. But the government and unions agreed that there should be no right or obligation to work from home, he said.
An existing agreement signed between the employers’ union (UEL) and the OGBL and LCGB trade unions regulates remote working within companies. For example, it states that employees working from home cannot be disadvantaged when it comes to promotions, salary and training.
An updated version of the agreement should be signed this month, labour minister Dan Kersch said during the debate, based on a proposal by the “Conseil économique et social” (CES), a body that advises the government on economic and social issues.
Around half of all staff in Luxembourg worked fully from home during the height of the pandemic, a study by statistics office Statec found. Another one in five alternated between working from home and the office while less than a third worked from the office full-time.
The updated agreement would notably differentiate between people who work less than 10% of their time from home and those who work more than 10% from home. Only in the latter case, a deal in writing is needed between employee and employer specifying the days and hours of remote working as well as reimbursements for internet costs.
But even though the right to teleworking will not be written in the law, Kersch promised a right to disconnect to be added to the labour code. The labour minister hopes to present the draft bill in the first quarter of next year.
A key obstacle to remote working for many employees in Luxembourg is caps for cross-border workers. Commuters from France can work 29 days from home without paying additional taxes in their country of residence. For workers from Belgium, the cap is at 24 days and for commuters from Germany it is at just 19.
This is far from the legal right to working from home half of the time that the petition had demanded. In addition, cross-border commuters working more than a quarter of their time outside of Luxembourg lose their affiliation with the grand duchy’s social security system.
The OGBL trade union earlier this year said that rules for all three countries should be the same and allow for 55 days of working from home per year. Both prime minister Xavier Bettels’ Democratic Party (DP) and the Greens in their annual general meetings pledged to lobby for more remote working options in the future, citing better work-life balance and less traffic among its benefits.
The coalition government has foreseen a labour law reform during its mandate that continues until 2023. MPs said they would monitor how the new teleworking agreement would be implemented with a view to eventually revisit the issue of legislating on the matter.