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Europe extends employment rules to teleworkers

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An agreement signed recently by representatives of European employers and trade unions is to form the basis of European rules on teleworking, and will become law in May 2005. The agreement was made via a consultation process initially launched by the European Commission in 2000, as part of the process of "modernising and improving employment relations."

Yes, there's something about Brussels news that inevitably starts to send you to sleep, but plenty of you are teleworkers, so pay attention, this is important. The agreement defines telework, and "sets up a general framework at European level for teleworkers' working conditions. It recognises that teleworkers are afforded the general protection granted to workers based on the employer's premises and highlights 7 key areas where the specificities of telework need to be taken into account."

Some teleworkers are adequately catered for by their employers, many others less so, and the extension of legislation to cover them will therefore be important to them. The European Commission, incidentally, figures there are 10 million teleworkers in Europe, which we would have thought was on the low side, and that 4.5 million of them will be covered by the new rules.

It defines teleworkers as:

- home-based employed teleworkers, most of whom work alternately at home and on the employer's premises;
- self-employed teleworkers who normally work from home;
- mobile workers who spend at least ten hours per week away from home or their main place of work, for example on business trips, travelling or on customers' premises, during which time they use online computer connections;
- casual workers who could fall under the first group (home-based), but spend less than ten hours per week teleworking from home.

It also notes legislation passed in Italy and a code of conduct in Ireland, and pats several companies on the head for implementing company agreements already. These include our very own British Gas and IBM UK. Well done chaps. More information can be found here. ®

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