The Slovenia Times

Remote work still popular

Remote work.
Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA

The number of people working from home dropped in Slovenia this year to about a fifth of the level seen in 2021, but the figures are still 20 times higher than in pre-Covid 2019. Legislative changes are in the pipeline to reduce red tape around remote work, yet challenges remain.

Data from the Labour Inspectorate shows about 2,000 workers reported to be working from home in 2019. The figure climbed to over 217,000 in 2021, but then fell to 122,000 in 2022. By 20 July this year some 43,800 were reported to be working remotely.

The numbers tend to fluctuate throughout the year, a spike usually being recorded in January, when the virus regains momentum, as well as in the summer, when people in office jobs work remotely for more holiday flexibility.

While the legislation continues to require employers signing completely new contracts with employees to specify the rights, obligations and conditions of remote work in detail, changes have been put forward to allow this to be settled by means of an annex to the job contract.

This has been welcomed by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS). Talking with the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), they say this will increase the flexibility of such arrangements.

However, while committed to providing data vitally needed for oversight, the GZS is hoping for a further simplification of the scheme. They see the large number of data that employers need to provide to the inspectorate in such cases as a significant administrative burden.

Pros and cons

Employers are in general in favour of work from home, "especially if it has a positive impact on productivity and employee satisfaction". Working from home also means that workers do not lose time in rush-hour traffic, which reflects positively on their mood, they argue.

"The pitfalls meanwhile lie in the reduction of the quality of cooperation between teams," employer representatives say, arguing that personal interaction is still very important.

Trade unions, however, also see other downsides. Talking of a fifth industrial revolution, they say that "work from home has given employers the ideal tool to completely blur the boundaries between work and leisure time".

"Living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens have turned into offices overnight, and working hours have been stretched throughout the day under the guise of flexibility," Damjan Volf of the KS 90 trade union confederation told the STA.

Those who work from home often work in unhealthy working environments, with inadequate work surfaces, chairs, lighting, etc., and they also work when sick, which leads to an artificial reduction in absenteeism, he said.

KS 90, which features both public sector and private sector trade unions, is urging against rushing with legislative changes in this field.

Workers who work from home have the same rights as those who work at the premises provided by their employer. They are entitled to a meal allowance, but not to a transport allowance. They are also entitled to reimbursement for the use of their own resources.

The current legislation compels employers to make sure that their employees work at home in adequate and safe conditions, but the Labour Inspectorate does not perform inspections at workers' homes.


More from Economy