The Ministerial Decree of November 1st, 2020 removes all doubts about Telework: All employers are mandated to have workers homeworking until December 13th, 2020.
If Teleworking is impossible because of the function or for reasons of continuity of the company’s management, its services or its activities, the workers physical presence at the place work is allowed.
Compulsory closures are no longer recommended; and that is good news!
What is to be understood by “impossible” is not specified, but it seems to us that common sense allows each employer to decide whether or not homeworking is feasible. Efficiency alone on the other hand may not be a reason to refuse telecommuting.
Workers’ whose presence at work is required must receive a certificate from their employer to that extend. The certificate confirming the necessity does not have to expand or motivate the stated necessity
At work, social distancing’s rules among which the 1,5m-distance golden rule, as well as all the health & security prescriptions must be strictly observed. The ministerial decree still refers to the generic guide to prevent the dissemination of COVID-19 at work in NL/FR: “Generieke gids om de verspreiding van COVID-19 op het werk tegen te gaan” / “Guide générique pour lutter contre la propagation du COVID-19 au travail”, updated October 30th, 2020.
Practically, all undertakings must adopt appropriated prevention measures (material, technical and/or organizational) ensuring the highest level of protection: the use of hydro alcoholic gel, 1,5m distance between people, wearing of the mask in the common areas, good & regular office ventilation, use of paper handkerchiefs, cleaning of all screens (laptops, printers, phone, etc.), one way direction, 1 person in the lift,…
The ministerial decree remembers that social dialogue remains the key for success. In other words, the prevention measures must be discussed and adopted in concertation with the competent social bodies where applicable.
Moreover, the employer must continue to inform and train workers respecting health & security measures and, third persons within the company being duly informed about the applicable rules.
Finally, note that the social “welfare” inspection of the Ministry of Labour has been appointed by the Decree to enforce its application.
Given the current state of the pandemic, it is a safe bet that the social inspectors will make the enforcement of this telecommuting mandate one of its priorities.