Due to the swift spread of Corona Virus (“Virus”) all over the World and grievous events happening in our country, numerous companies decided on home-office work to keep their employees away from the threat.
Since the Virus causes threats not only in terms of health but also of economics, both employers and employees face adversities. In light of the recent events, our article will discuss how employment relations between employer and employees would be affected legally in businesses which decide to carry out home-office work.
The term “remote work” was first introduced to Turkish Legal System in 2016 with amendments in Labour Code (“LC”) numbered 4857. Remote work was laid out in Article 14 (4) of the LC as provided below:
“(Added sub-paragraph: 6.5.2016-6715/Art.2) Remote work is employment relationship formed in writing that is based on the element that the employee carries outs his obligations in scope of the business organisation formed by the employer at home or outside of the workplace through technological communication tools.”
The article in LC underlines that remote work constitutes a business model on which the parties engage in by agreeing at the beginning of the employment relationship or by mutual agreement later on. However, although home-office work currently implemented due to extraordinary reasons without a mutual agreement is actually remote work, it does not constitute remote work according to legislation.
In light of the above, it must be stated that, since home-office work decision by the employer due to extraordinary reasons such as Virus does not constitute remote work, both parties are bound by the rights and obligations as were in normal working period. Briefly, the employment relationship between the parties continues as it was for the employees that are decided to carry out work from home unless the parties do not engage in a separate agreement.
The employer can expect the employee to adequately perform while the employee continues to enjoy his rights protected under the employment contract and the LC. In this regard, unless stated otherwise, the employee must still be compensated with previously agreed-upon salary and social rights. Therefore, we deem that, home-office work by the employee at the request of the employer and/or the employee’s request due to extraordinary reasons, to avoid the outbreak will not constitute remote work under LC. Furthermore, we believe that no prior written consent by the employee is needed; and such working model is not inconvenient for protection from the Virus outbreak. Thus the rights and benefits of the employee must be protected and the working conditions should not be aggravated.
Also, the employer’s responsibility continues as regards the provisions on occupational accidents and occupational health, even though the employee works in such a place as that does not constitute a workplace. In case the employee incurs any occasion leading to the occupational accident during working hours at home, then the employer will be responsible such in with occupational accidents in the workplace.
IN CONCLUSION; In light of the information above, even though the working conditions shows similarity with remote work as set out in LC.it should be accepted that in case of home-office work because of the Virus, the employment relationship between the employer and the employee continues as it was before; and either party has the same rights and obligations regardless the working place.