Work From Home – The New Regulations

The COVID-19 (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020 introduced a new section 17A in the Workers’ Rights Act. It provides that an employer may require any employee (including those earning more than MUR 600,000 in annual basic salary) to work from home by giving a notice of 48 hours to the employee. The new section also confers power on the Minister to make regulations for the purposes of that section.

The Minister issued the Worker’s Rights (Working from Home) Regulations on 24 September 2020 providing inter alia that:

Notice/request: An employer may require an employee to work from home by giving a notice of 48 hours and the employee is required to comply with such notice. The employee may also request to work from home but the employer is not required to grant that request.

Health and safety: The worker must inform the employer of the proposed place where work will be performed at home, and the employer must conduct a suitable and sufficient assessment of that place to ensure that the performance of work will not entail any risk the safety and health of the homeworker and members of his family.

Revert to initial workplace: The employer may require the worker to go back to his initial place of work, if so required because of the business’s operations.

Working From Home Agreement: The employer and the worker must enter into a written agreement (in the form set out in the First Schedule to the Regulations), which should set out the following details, amongst other:

– duration of agreement (e.g. whether determinate or indeterminate period)

– agreed location to work from home

– assignment and schedule of work

– hours of work and employee’s requirement to keep a timesheet (hours of work include time spent to collect work and materials, to deliver completed work, to wait at home for working tools and equipment to be repaired or maintained, to wait at home for work to be delivered or otherwise assigned, to wait for instructions to be given, and in attending meetings with the employer or his clients for business-related purpose)

– the installations, working tools and equipment to be provided by the employer and restrictions on use by the employee

– requirement to establish and implement an appropriate procedure to monitor and assess work progress

– protection of confidentiality, personal data and intellectual property

– compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act

Terms and conditions of employment: The employment of an employee who works from home is governed by the Second Schedule to the Regulations. Our recommendation is to incorporate those terms in the Work from Home Agreement. For example, those terms include the following:

– The hours of work of an employee include time spent to collect work and materials, to deliver completed work, waiting at home for working tools and equipment to be repaired or maintained, waiting at home for work to be delivered or otherwise assigned, waiting for instructions to be given over the phone or otherwise, attending meetings with the employer or his clients for business-related purpose.

– The employee is entitled to a disturbance allowance (at one time hourly basic wage) for work performed during “unsocial hours”, that is, either between 1 p.m. on a Saturday and 6 a.m. the ensuing Monday, or between 10 p.m. on a weekday and 6 a.m. the ensuing day (except for an employee in the ICT-BPO sector whose working hours correspond to the working hours in the market country served).

– The employee is entitled to a refund of work-related expenses, such as for use use of electricity, water, telecommunication or other facility at home, maintenance of tools and equipment, transport allowance (equivalent of bus fare) for travelling in connection with work, etc.

Access to place of work: The employer may, with the prior authorisation of the employee, access the place where work is performed for work-related purposes.

Injury at work: Where an employee works from home and sustains an injury out of and in the course of employment, it is deemed to be an injury at work. The employee should notify the employer as soon as reasonable and practicable.

This note does not cover every aspect of the topic with which it deals. It does not represent legal or other advice. For specific advice, please get in touch with a member of our team. To download a copy of this briefing note, click here.