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Must secure rights for working remotely

Published: Oct. 6 2021

The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprises (NHO) recently announced that the idea of working from home has come to stay. In response, Tekna’s president is encouraging employees to secure their rights to work remotely.

While Tekna supports the increased use of home offices after the pandemic is over, it’s important that we insist on employees getting written contracts in place that secure their rights in connection with work hours, pay and sickness when working from home, says Tekna president Lars Olav Grøvik.

He goes on to emphasize that a post-COVID home office situation must not be run according to employers’ cost-saving measures, but rather that employees’ basic rights – along with their working in a voluntary and flexible manner – must form the starting point for creating new contracts and guidelines.

-It’s important for us to establish a set of regulations which asserts that working from home is voluntary and secures employees’ rights with respect to having a written contract to work in this way, states Grøvik.

In a recent survey of Tekna members, as many as 3 out of 4 technologists replied that they wanted more flexibility when working from home, including after the pandemic is over. Three out of four also point out that home office employment plans should be voluntary.

- The voluntary aspect is central, meaning employees who want to go in to the office must have their own workspace there, says Grøvik.

- Can be expensive

He thinks that the experiences gained from employees working remotely during the pandemic can for the most part be described as positive. At the same time, he points out that it’s important to be persistent when rules and regulations on remote work are now being drawn up.

- We’ve kept productivity up at a high level, we’ve started using cost-saving and climate-friendly technology, and many people have been given more flexibility to help them get through their busy workdays. These experiences are now going to be realized in new guidelines saying how we’re going to work in the future. This is precisely why we now need a set of regulations which ensure that the employment rights we’ve worked so hard for won’t be thrown out, explains Grøvik.

- Having co-determination and influence over your own workday is important. So home office regulations must be worked out in close cooperation between employees, employers and politicians – if not, then working from home can prove to be a more costly experience that we’d like it to be, he says.

- Tekna has come up with five points for working remotely that must be established if we’re to have a future-oriented, secure and flexible working life that includes the opportunity to work from home.

Tekna’s five points for a successful home office plan:

1. Written contracts must be established

At every workplace where employees are allowed to work from home, written contracts should be signed by employers, company union representatives and employees that clearly define all factors connected with home offices, such as facilities, equipment, insurance, work hours, supervision and salary.

2. Working at home is equal to working at the office

Working from home isn’t a question of give and take, and an employer can’t use it as an argument to require that employees give up their rights, leisure time or salary in return. Working from home is legitimate work along the same lines as working at an office and should be assessed and measured based on the same parameters, including an employee’s results, collaborative ability and efforts.

3. Work hours should be the same

In the future more people will be working from home, and it’ll be difficult for many of them to separate working hours and leisure time. In Tekna’s opinion the Working Environment Act is a suitable reference for both working at home and an office. The rules on working hours should be the same no matter where an employee works.

4. Company union representatives must get involved

Along with the increased use of home office plans, Tekna’s opinion is that workplace representatives must get a clear mandate and opportunity to influence the formation of different home office plans.

5. Employees must have the option of working at an office

Working from home must be voluntary. It mustn’t first and foremost be a cost-saving measure for companies, and employees who want to work at the office must have a workspace there. Working out of a home office can be lonely for many people, and so their work-related mental health situations must be taken seriously.

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