The world’s giant companies have been seeking flexible working models for a long time in order to reduce the increasing office costs, to eliminate the tiring hours spent in traffic, to make the time spent chatting in the business environment more productive. We were constantly hearing and reading about ways of working that sounded very strange to our ears at that time, such as working remotely and working from home, which are among them.
While people in our country did not even think of working like this, there was actually a similar practice, albeit in a very limited framework. Most people do not know, but for a long time we have been implementing a similar system for some personnel due to their special circumstances. We do not have a legal basis and legal basis for some of the employees who want not to leave their jobs after pregnancy, to live their motherhood and to take care of their children closely, and for a small number of personnel who cannot come to work physically due to illness or disability, in some large companies with foreign capital that we consult. Despite this, we were preparing work-from-home/remote-work contracts for a maximum of one or two years, comparing to part-time employment contracts.
However, the concept of working from home suddenly spread when the obligation of employees to work remotely due to the pandemic environment and forced closures. “Working from home”, one of the new normals that the new type of corona virus (Covid-19) pandemic has added to economic life, has begun to be adopted by more and more companies, and the obligation to make a legal regulation on this issue has now become inevitable.
For these reasons, with the Remote Working Regulation published in the Official Gazette dated 10.03.2021 and numbered 31419, remote working has now gained a legal status and the framework of this type of work has been determined with the regulation. With the regulation, the procedures and conditions for remote working are determined, as well as the supply of materials and work tools, the implementation of business rules regarding communication, data protection and sharing, and even jobs that cannot be done remotely.
From a legal point of view, of course, it is not possible to mention that this regulation is sufficient, it is certain that there is a need for more extensive and detailed regulations. However, these are baby steps and rapid regulations that have not been overly thought about due to the pandemic period and the current conditions that are thought to continue for a while.
The principles determined in the aforementioned current regulation are as follows;
- Employment agreements regarding remote work must be made in writing. The employment contract signed with the personnel may be signed on the basis of direct remote work. Or, the employment contract and working conditions of a personnel working with an indefinite-term employment contract can be changed to work remotely. In this case, if the request for remote working comes from the personnel, this request must be sent to the employer in writing. Within 30 days from the date of this request to the employer, it is necessary to give a positive or negative response to the personnel in writing. If the request of the personnel is accepted, it is necessary to sign a remote working contract with him.
- Personnel working on the basis of remote working can also apply to the employer in writing and inform that they want to return to their old working style. This request of the personnel should be evaluated and examined as we have stated above.
- In the event that teleworking will be implemented in the whole or part of the workplace due to compelling reasons specified in the legislation, the request or approval of the worker is not sought for the transition to remote working.
- It is essential that the materials and work tools required for the production of goods and services for the remote worker are provided by the employer, unless otherwise agreed in the employment contract. The principles of use of these materials and work tools, as well as the maintenance and repair conditions, will be communicated to the remote employee in a clear and understandable manner. In case the work tools are provided by the employer, the list of work tools indicating their prices on the date of delivery to the employee will be delivered to the employee in writing by the employer. A copy of the document delivered to the worker, signed by the worker, will be kept in the employee’s personnel file by the employer.
- The time interval and duration of remote work will be specified in the employment contract. Working hours can be changed by the parties, provided that the limitations stipulated in the legislation are adhered to. Overtime will be done upon the employer’s written request, with the employee’s acceptance, in accordance with the provisions of the legislation.
- In teleworking, the method and time interval of communication will be determined by the remote worker and the employer.
- Employer; will inform the remote employee about the business rules and relevant legislation regarding the protection and sharing of data regarding the workplace and his/her work, and will take the necessary measures to protect this data. The employer will also determine the definition and scope of the data to be protected in the contract. In order to protect the data, it is obligatory for the remote employee to comply with the business rules determined by the employer.
- The employer is obliged to inform the employee about occupational health and safety measures, to provide the necessary training, to provide health surveillance and to take the necessary occupational safety measures regarding the equipment provided, taking into account the nature of the work performed by the remote worker.
- In the regulation, jobs that cannot be done remotely are also determined, and it is prohibited to work remotely in jobs that involve working with hazardous chemicals and radioactive materials, processing these substances or working with the wastes of these substances, working with the risk of exposure to biological factors.
As you can see, we are faced with a very limited regulation. A larger and more detailed study on the subject will probably be done in the future.
The issue is seriously discussed in the business world, in the field of economy and law, in the employers’ sector, almost everywhere. Some people oppose this type of work and claim that it will cause serious problems in the future, and say that it is not possible to get efficiency by working from home, business seriousness, dialogue and creativity die. He says that he saves money in a way and that employees have a better balance between work and family. This segment says that the emerging obligation to “work from home” has now become the “new normal” in working life.
There are companies in our country that adopt this type of work. For example, Koç Holding announced that 35 thousand office workers among its approximately 100 thousand employees will work completely from home from now on. Immediately after, it became Turkey’s 5th largest subsidiary of the Sabancı Group. Akbank, its private bank, announced that it will make working from home permanent under certain conditions.
On the other hand, experts warn that not everyone’s home may be suitable for this type of work, there may be problems with internet connection, working from home may not be efficient for families with children, and people’s inability to socialize and stay at home all the time can be psychologically exhausting.
While these discussions continue, many world giant companies have already switched to flexible working models. However, what is remarkable is that some world giants such as Amazon and Google, which worked fully flexible for a period and whose employees did not come to the office unless it was compulsory, are currently giving the signal to return to the offices. For example, Google announced that as part of flexible working hours, it will allow its employees to work from home 2 days a week from September 2021.
It is possible to draw conclusions from these experiences. In order not to re-discover the light bulb, we wanted to find a middle point, based on these experiences, observing that the continuous working from home system is not very suitable for our structure, and as K&P Legal, we have started this practice for certain departments as working from home on certain days or days of the week for now. For now, everyone seems to be satisfied, as productivity has increased and the office and home balance is well maintained.
But each organization’s experience will be different. Each company will decide for itself whether it is efficient and healthy to work from home permanently or partially. What is very productive for one company may not be for another. Manager and employee profile, in short, the human factor is very important. In time, everyone will have a clear idea about this.
Technological advances are amazing and already allow for remote work. Now, we hold almost all our meetings through Teams or Zoom programs, tell our problems by phone and e-mail, get answers, make reports, do business with full technology, we can work. So now anything is possible. Since legal regulations also shed light on remote working, it will be behind for those who adopt this model.
As a final word, let me say this; The pandemic and the necessities of working from home, and the teleworking regulation that followed, paved the way for legal regulations, and new ways of doing business emerged with technology. So no matter where you work from home, from a summer residence, from a caravan, from a boat or remotely, as long as you work correctly, efficiently and well, believe me, your company and your country need this the most.
Lawyer / K&P LEGAL LAW OFFICE