Due to Covid-19, which is experienced all over the world and in our country, many companies have switched to remote / home working system. Employers are responsible for Occupational Health and Safety (IISG) wherever they are legally employed. Because, as per the Labor Law, wherever the worker worked, the definition of the workplace should be taken as a legal basis, not the definition of the workplace sociologically. This is the simplest expression where work is done. Occupational Health and Safety cannot be eliminated by the employer in the places where the work is done, other than the location of the employer or the locations indicated by him, since this location will be considered to be included in the Employer’s business organization, whether it is at home or elsewhere. Therefore, the Employer’s OHS responsibility for these workers continues. For example, if a worker working remotely / from home during work hours has an accident at home, the employer’s responsibility can also be mentioned. Workers who start working remotely/from home must be informed by the employer about the issues described separately below. Making this educational information will prevent future problems.
The Employer has an obligation to take all necessary measures and to provide Training-Information.
Since the employer is obliged to take all the occupational health and safety measures that can be expected to be equitable in accordance with the paragraph 1 of the 1st paragraph of the 4th article of the Occupational Health and Safety Law No. 6331, it will not discriminate against the workers working remotely in this regard. For this reason, the basic occupational health and safety obligations stipulated by Law No. 6331 will also be applied to remote workers. However, it is clear that the realization of the relevant obligations and inspections for these workers, who are not actually under the supervision and supervision of the employer, cannot be drawn as sharply as in a fixed workplace designated as the workplace.
Therefore, all necessary measures will be determined on the basis of equity. While the worker has the freedom to do the work at his chosen place, the employer will not be expected to go to these places one by one, which can be public restaurants, cafes, libraries, and take measures to prevent the worker from any work accident. However, in line with other obligations, the employer will also fulfill this obligation. The employer may not have the chance to observe whether the worker has occupational discomfort or whether he / she is using stimulants due to the fact that the worker is away from himself and his supervision. It is also important to follow up if the worker develops a preventable occupational disease. However, the distance of the worker will be challenging for the employer to follow. In this context, it is possible for the employer to request regular health reports from the workers. The employer may ask the worker to have a general health screening at intervals determined by the contract and to present the results to him.
In our concrete case in all over the World, it is required to send a mail to the workers who start working from home and to notify the matters that need attention, and notify the measures taken by the Employer.
- Comprehensive training-informative texts should be sent to all distance / home workers. It should be reported to employees who work from home that the main purpose of not working in the office is an attempt to protect the health of the worker.
- The World Health Organization and Ministry of Health, It should be ensured that the recommendations of the Ministry of Health are followed, that various informations are regularly made by HR and that these employees also follow all the information.
- Employees should be warned about paying attention to the provision of ergonomic spaces in the environment they work at home and respecting the rest during the day.
- During working from home, depending on the prolongation of the period, periodical health screenings should be provided and the employer should be asked to request a health report.
- A warning should be given to ensure that the employees pay attention to the provision of ergonomic spaces in the environment they work at home and to rest during the day.
- During the work from home, depending on the prolongation of the period, periodical health screenings should be provided and the employer should be asked to request a health report.
- Necessary information should be given to employees to pay attention to hygiene rules during their working from a distance / home.
- For people with breathing difficulties, an isolated place with air circulation should be determined and people should be kept until state authorities arrive.
- A safe distance of 2 meters should be provided when sitting at tables / closed areas.
- During working from home, use of air conditioning should be reduced. Ventilation should be done by opening the windows.
Labor laws are basically laws designed to protect the rights of the worker. Accordingly, basic health and safety provisions should be implemented for workers working remotely or from home. It is also possible that the worker working outside the main workplace has an accident or an occupational disease. A regulation in which health and safety obligations for remote work have not been put into force yet. In this regard, an assessment can only be made according to the Labor Law.
For this reason, the obligation to provide training in terms of occupational health and safety awareness, the obligation to carry out risk assessment, the obligation to carry out health surveillance and the supervision of the private life without violating the confidentiality of private life should be fulfilled. It will not be easy to draw the employer’s role in the fulfillment of these obligations within reasonable limits. Employer’s costs are reduced by working remotely, and control and supervision are also difficult in the same direction. Because if the obligations focused only on protecting the worker are handled very broadly, the employer may be in a difficult situation compared to the economic expectation that he will achieve by working remotely. For this reason, the relevant occupational health and safety obligations should be determined and applied to the extent that they can be expected both for the employer and for the worker.
Reference: Olgu ÖZDEMİR | Antalya Bilim University Faculty of Law Journal | Issue: 8 – December 2016