The Cabinet has approved a bill to regulate remote working conditions, tabled by Labour Minister Yiannis Panayiotou.
Following the cabinet meeting, the Labour Minister said the legislation would be extremely important for the future of working, as it will allow companies to make the most out of available technology, which will offer greater flexibility at work.
The relevant legislation will, at this stage, only regulate hybrid working conditions in the private sector and not the public service.
The proposed legislation will be amended to include the public service following consultations with civil servants’ unions.
Working from home became the norm during the COVID pandemic.
It has incorporated safety nets addressing social partners’ concerns over the right to disconnect and other work-related issues, such as safeguarding the terms of employment.
The bill, already greenlighted by the legal services, has been crosschecked by a technical committee established with the agreement of all social partners within the framework of the Labour Advisory Body at the end of 2021.
It mirrors a relevant law adopted in Greece in 2021, which has also been endorsed by European trade unions and European employers’ organisations.
The sticky point in the proposed institutional framework was the right to disconnect from the beginning.
Unions have argued that provisions in the law should safeguard the right of employees to disconnect, that is, to sign off when their shift is done.
Unions argue that the right to disconnect should be noted in the legislation to preserve the framework of the philosophy of the principle of reconciliation of family and work.
In a communication with the Federation of Employers and Industrialists (OEB), Lena Panayiotou, head of OEB’s Industrial Relations & Social Policy Department, stated employers’ objections.
Panayiotou said employers do not want to see employees strictly available only during their eight hours online.
“These limits should not apply to imminent or actual danger or emergency that may cause harm to businesses, organisations or persons”.
Panayiotou said that OEB would like to see some form of exception to the disconnection process for extraordinarily serious reasons, which touch on the well-intentioned interest of the company and teleworkers.