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Erlend Aarsand
Tekna attorney Erlend Aarsand has issued a warning about regulations that provide a legal basis for deviating from laws regulating employee work hours.

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Home office employment contract warning issued

Apr. 19 2021

Employers have started sending out a new add-on to employment contracts that regulate working from home. Tekna’s attorneys advise members to read these new contracts carefully before signing them.

The home office law requires a contract between employers and employees. This contract is an addition to an employment contract whose purpose is to regulate and clarify points about working from home. Tekna advises members against signing contracts that contain other work hour stipulations than those already required when working in the office.

- We’re pleased that supplementary agreements are being written up in conjunction with the existing law, especially with regard to health/environment/ safey work, facilitation, expense coverage and equipment for a home office, says Erlend Aarsand, Tekna attorney and head of Tekna’s labor department.  

At the same time, he warns that the law provides a legal basis for deviant laws on work hours that can result in a significant workload. He therefore recommends that members read through the new contracts carefully before signing them.  

- Work hour regulations should be the same whether you are working at the office or not, especially when we’re talking about an imposed situation such as home office during a pandemic. The law doesn’t take this kind of situation into account, he says.

Be aware of existing work hour regulations    

Aarsand points out that the law provides a legal basis for other frameworks for work hours that don’t follow the Working Environment Act.   

- We’re talking about other frameworks than what an individual might have in their employment contract or is covered by the Working Environment Act. For example, the law provides a legal basis for maintaining that you can work up to 12-hour days – 6 days a week (72 hours a week). 
Work hours are to be calculated on average with 48 hours a week over a 4-month period, including overtime, he continues.   

Signing a new contract requires employees’ consent and acceptance.

- We recommend that members read any new contract proposal thoroughly, and don’t necessarily accept other work hour arrangements than what would otherwise be the case for working at the office, says Aarsand.  

Tekna representatives should be involved

Aarsand encourages members to contact their organizational representatives to check if they’ve taken part in writing up the contract. – The organizations should discuss every aspect of the contract with their representative before sending it to employees. If no discussion has taken place, we recommend that representatives demand these discussions, he says.

Members can also contact Tekna to look through their contract 

- We feel it’s important that the contract states that employees will receive any necessary equipment and ergometric aides they need, and that the contract is temporary and contains a definite termination date. Any insurance coverage related to home offices should also be explained at this time, and to what extent employees can work, for example from their cabin or at other locations than their own own home, concludes Aarsand.

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