Friday | 27 March | 2020
The foundation of an employment relationship is based on a trust relationship and the rights of the parties in this relationship. Employees and employers have specific rights in terms of Common Law and Labour Law. To balance these rights, it is crucial to ensure a fair and successful service relationship. It is important to keep in mind that for each right a specific responsibility arises with the other party.
It is generally accepted that the employer is responsible for providing its employees with the resources and equipment necessary to perform daily duties. Where these equipment and resources are not provided, but are necessary to perform certain tasks, employees cannot be held liable if their duties are not performed.
The aspect of working from home comes up regularly during this period with the reality of the coronavirus. It goes without saying that conditions of service between the employer and his employees will change during this time, since employees temporarily need to work from home. Regarding this aspect, we must distinguish between two separate situations:
The employee requests to work from home:
It is important to keep in mind that the employer will still have the discretion to allow or deny these requests.
Should the employee request to work from home, the employee’s conditions of service will also change temporarily depending on the interim agreement between the employer and each individual employee. The employer is not obliged to provide employees with the necessary equipment since the employee made the request. The parties can still accommodate each other as far as possible. However, it is important to understand that there is no obligation towards the employer to provide any equipment or resources during this time.
The employer forces its employees to work from home:
The employee is still under management and instruction of the employer and will have to carry out all the legal and reasonable tasks of the employer. Should the employer force its employees to work from home, the employee’s conditions of service will change temporarily depending on the interim agreement between the employer and each individual employee. The employer is still obliged to provide the employee with the necessary equipment and resources so that he or she can complete their daily tasks.
In the case where the employer cannot provide you with the necessary equipment and resources, the first question would be whether you can complete your tasks without the equipment and resources. In this case, the employer can still expect its employees to complete their tasks.
If the employer cannot provide the employee with the necessary equipment or resources, they can consider the cost implication that the employee will have to endure to procure the equipment and resources himself. The employer and employee can consult regarding the additional expenses and even outweigh it with savings of the employees that are working from home. The employer and employee must consider reaching a fair and just agreement.
Everyday expenses that employees are responsible for monthly will remain the responsibility of the employee.
Therefore, these cases must be approached with caution and on a case to case basis, measured by its own merits and based on the core principle of fairness and justness.
* All information was correct at the time of publication.