work from home

The business press here in the U.S. was all abuzz last week with the latest legislation proposed in the Dutch parliament. Workers now have the legal right to work from home…Sort of… Depends.

All clear?

The Devil is in the Details

While I’m not a legal scholar (let alone in Dutch), it seems to me that the important wording in the law is, The law compels employers to consider employee requests to work from home as long as their professions allow it.”

Legally, that’s not a whole lot. Basically, a company needs to “consider” allowing you to work from home if:

  • It’s been proven that the work can be done from a remote location such as a home. This means if you were making it work during the pandemic, you can probably still make it work.
  • Your “profession allows it.” Whatever that means
  • If you ask nicely

In fact, if you look at the law there’s not much there. Despite the screaming from the business press—especially here in the U.S. where it falls under, “Darn those Europeans with their time off, maternity leave and sensible benefits,” it doesn’t have any teeth in terms of enforcement. People can ask. Employers have to think about it. That’s as far as the law goes.

Why does this matter to us?

Working from home has already made seismic changes in the employer/employee relationship around the world. It has also started raising questions about safety, taxes, and workers rights that are just now being addressed by written policy and working their way through the courts. We made the move without much planning, and now it’s becoming clear there are too many unanswered questions to ignore any longer.

When the pandemic hit, every organization made its own pact with its workers about who could work where, and when they have to return to the office. Now that the initial panic is over, people are deciding whether to return from the office and what their legal rights are. Do the same tax and financial rules apply if I work in another state than the people in the office? Who do I complain to about expected work hours or policies that promise flexibility but don’t allow people to choose their working hours?

A warning to employers to clarify work from home policies?

The new Dutch “right to work from home” law is a first mild attempt to identify some of the pressing questions and start a critical discussion. In a way, it’s a warning to employers to get their acts together or risk government interference.

In almost every country, if there aren’t serious policies in place to address the changes in the social contract between employees and their bosses, government officials (or at least the courts) will put them there.

That’s why it matters.


Wayne Turmel--The Remote Leadership Institute

Wayne Turmel
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager

Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in

Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. Wayne and Kevin’s follow-up book, The Long-Distance Teammateoffers a roadmap for success not just for leaders, but for everyone making the transition to working remotely.

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