It is urgent to regulate “home office” work: expert in labor law

Note published in El Sol de México, Sociedad [Society] Section by Bertha Becerra.
Read the note in its original source

It is important that home office work or working from home be regulated because the Federal Labor Law (LFT) has no regulation for this system of labor organization that is here to stay. There are two initiatives: one in the House of Representatives and the other in the Senate of the Republic. The last bill that was presented and is being discussed in San Lázaro is more complete than the one Morena presented in the Senate.

In the opinion of Labor Law expert, Héctor de la Cruz, there are several topics that need to be regulated: the definition of teleworking, the right to reversibility, teleworking modalities and the right to digital disconnection, among others.

He believes that the topic of reversibility, that is the right of the worker to decide: first, if he wants to work under the home office scheme and, once he has made this decision, having the right to change his mind and adopt the modality of conventional work, is very important.

“This respects his choices and his right to see what is best for him. Any initiative will have to take the concept of reversibility into account”, he told El Sol de México.

It is also required to acknowledge the right of the employer to verify the working conditions under which home office work will be conducted.

“On many occasions the worker is sent home and simply told, here is your laptop and your list of tasks. It is not known whether he has an internet connection, if the area that he has at home is appropriate, if he has the proper conditions in regard to light, ergonomics, etc.”, he mentioned

The employer should also be aware of these conditions before sending the worker to his home office and should be responsible for improving these conditions and seeing which are the optimal ones and provide support to the worker in obtaining them.

“Because the dining room chairs at home are comfortable to sit on for a while, but sitting on them all day is not the same”, he said.

In regard to the right to disconnection, he stated that the interview that it goes together with the worker’s dignity and the right that he has to enjoy activities that are not related to work, but are personal, within the bosom of his family, to conduct any other activity that is not work-related.

At a certain time of the day, after meeting my objectives and taking care of the assigned jobs, etc., I can disconnect. I have the right to disconnect. I don’t have to be available for longer than the time that strictly corresponds to work.

It is a fair measure to avoid abusing the worker’s time and not being invasive of his personal and family space. He can decide to disconnect as long as he has completed his work.

And equality between work centers and those at home?

– It is a constitutional right at the end of the day. The law, in none of the bills that are currently being discussed in Congress, establishes that any worker is different from another, the ones working at home and the ones working at the office. They are exactly the same. And the principle that equal work, equal pay remains the supreme rule.

It would not be fair for a worker to be paid less because he has been sent to a home office job, that his income be reduced. The right thing is that he must enjoy the same conditions as someone working in a traditional scheme.

The Labor Law expert, from the De la Vega & Martínez Firm, stated that both bills are at the level of initiatives, “but as a consequence of the undeniable and known fact of the pandemic, it is urgent for them to be analyzed and I hope that one of these initiatives becomes a law soon and we hope to have an appropriate regulation before too long”.

And he emphasized: “We are working more than ever now. At the end of the day, we used to shut down our computer and that was the end of the chapter. Now, we are never disconnected”.