Labour laws after the Pandemic

Every year various NGOs and Public organizations around the world remind us about the problem of pollution and global warming. Enormous amount of money of taxpayers have been spent to battle this problem and to build more sustainable economy. However, the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic has revealed that better labour conditions will actually help in this battle for cleaner air. Drastically reduced numbers of vehicles on the roads indicated an improvement. At the same time many companies came to realize that some employees are more productive outside of the office and deliver better results. Would working remotely on a large scale solve the problem of pollution? Might be, however the current worldwide lockdown points out on other aspects of labour conditions.  

The COVID-19 Pandemic has once again stressed that the existing Labour Codes around the world should be revised to accommodate the challenges and needs of the growing number of white collar employees. Working remotely in such a large scale has revealed that productivity of an office employee does not come from the hours spent, but from the environment that he/she is in.

Living in the age of digital economy shows how illiterate the population of the world is when it comes down to cyber security and protection of personal digital data. We seem to give away too much for the sake of a comfort. The same situation is present in terms of the labour laws. It appears that in most of the western countries these laws do not grant enough protection in terms of remote working. Various applications on the phone and laptops are able to track & trace your movements also off working hours. Given the situation that employers have a substantial amount of control over employees, we need to consider more in depth the idea that employment shall be based on productivity and targets, rather than 40 hours of working week. The length of a working week became shorter in comparison to the 20th century, technology around us evolved substantially, while methods of evaluation of performed tasks has remained the same.

The ongoing Pandemic has shown that these methods shall be revised. It has also indicated that laws shall grant different terms of protection for office and non-office employees, because primarily the type of performed work is different and employees should receive an adequate level of protection in case of economic hardships. Nevertheless, one may want to be careful in differentiating these two groups of employees. Otherwise this may lead to inequality and social injustice, which was unfortunately apparent in almost all affected countries.

Finally, governments and employers shall acknowledge that post-COVID19 world will be different than before and it will bring positive changes as well. Questions such as: shall a commuting time be considered as the part of the working day? Or shall we oblige employees to come to the office every day?

Eventually, these long weeks of lockdown indicated the employers should consider some sort of a liberty for employees and evaluate their job based on the productivity, not the single fact that someone spent endless hours at the office without any added value.

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