Home Office and Meal Vouchers
Although home office existed before, only mandated lockdowns during the Covid pandemic made it popular. Employers have found that working from home works well and home office is now a very popular benefit in the Czech Republic.
The legislation has not yet been adjusted to the new situation, although there have been efforts to regulate home office more precisely. The Czech Labour Code contains only very few provisions regulating the performance of work from home. The current regulation is completely insufficient and employers should negotiate the conditions of home office with their employees in employment agreements.
So, what should employers keep in mind when adjusting to home office?
First of all, it is necessary to think about the extent to which work from home should be carried out. It is, of course, possible to combine work at the employer’s workplace with work from home; scope and ratio should be agreed with the employee. The agreement should also include a provision that allows the employer to terminate the possibility to work from home if, for example, the employer is not satisfied with the employee’s performance. The Labour Code does not contain any conditions for termination of home office.
If the employee lives in a city other than the employer’s workplace, home office will result in a change of the work location. For this reason, the home office agreement must be in writing.
Another point that should be regulated between the parties is whether, in the case of home office, the employee will schedule their own working hours or whether the employer will schedule them. This is a very crucial issue which affects tax advantages of providing meal vouchers. If the employee schedules their own working hours, they are not, for example, entitled to overtime or additional payments for working on public holidays. On the other hand, the employer cannot require the employee to be available at specific times. In this case, the employee does not have a stipulated shift and therefore the provision of meal vouchers loses its tax advantage. In contrast, if the employer requires the employee to be available at certain times, the tax advantage of the meal vouchers is preserved.
The last essential area that should be covered in the home office agreement is health and safety at work and reimbursement of costs incurred by the employee in working from home. A declaration that no costs have been incurred in connection with working from home is advisable. It is important to note that the employer is fully liable for the fulfilment of all its obligations in the area of occupational safety and health even when the employee works from home. How this can be achieved remains rather opaque.
Mgr. Dagmar Junková