The Slovenia Times

Covid caused work from home to increase more than 100-fold


Ljubljana - Covid-19 has had a major impact on work processes, as 217,428 people were registered to work from home in Slovenia last year, which is a hundred times more than in the pre-Covid year of 2019. With the new Omicron variant, this trend is expected to continue, while major legislative changes are not yet in sight.

In Slovenia, records on working from home are kept by the Labour Inspectorate. After the outbreak of the new coronavirus in March 2020, the inspectorate was forced to change its system due to a surge in registrations of people working from home.

According to data provided by the inspectorate, only 2,037 workers were registered to work from home in 2019, compared to 217,428 people in 2021.

Subsequently, employers called on the authorities to simplify the procedures and requirements for registering employees for work from home, which was addressed by the government within the sixth Covid relief legislation package in November 2020.

An electronic form has been set up to allow employers who are in the business register to quickly notify the Labour Inspectorate of their intention to organise work from home for their employees.

As records show, by far the largest number of people worked from home in January, February, March and April of 2021, when Slovenia implemented strict measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

In January and April, employers reported the most employees working from home - 33,570 and 34,973 people, respectively. After a significant decrease in coronavirus infections over the summer, that number dropped to only 3,848 in August.

In the autumn of 2021, the epidemiological situation deteriorated again, also due to the new Delta variant of the coronavirus, which caused another uptick in employees registered for working from home, peaking in November 2021 with 18,128 people.

Given the recent rapid spread of yet another new variant, Omicron, it can be expected that the number of people working from home will continue to rise over the next few months.

Under the employment relations act, employers must sign a contract with their employees to specify their rights, obligations and conditions that depend on the nature of their work from home.

Even if the employee does not work on the employer's premises, the employer must provide for adequate working conditions, identify any potential risks and determine necessary measures to ensure the worker's health and safety.

However, Chief Labour Inspector Jadranko Grlić pointed out to the STA some time ago that the inspectorate does not carry out inspections in the homes of employees.

Employees working from home must have the same rights as those who work on the employer's premises. They are entitled to compensation for a meal during working hours, but not to compensation for commute.

Various social partners agreed that legislation on working from home should be further updated. To provide solutions based on expert opinions, the Economic and Social Council (ESS) formed a special committee in November 2020 to tackle the issue.

Different options and solutions were put on the table, but nothing has been agreed upon, because the ESS has not been operational since last spring due to disagreements between the unions and the government.


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