The Dutch parliament passed legislation that helps establish the work-from-home (WFH) model as a legal right for its citizens. This sets up the Netherlands among the European countries to legislate flexibility in the workplace.
Under current Dutch law, employers may reject a worker’s WFH request without providing any reason. The new legislation revises this stipulation and forces employers to seriously consider such requests and give an applicable reason for denying them.
Additionally, the bill is also an amendment to the Netherlands’ Flexible Working Act of 2015, which allowed employees to request changes in the number of hours they work, their working schedule, and their place of work.
This is timely for every Dutch professional who is always fond of remote working even pre-pandemic. According to the European Union’s (EU) statistical agency Eurostat, 14% of Dutch employees worked remotely in 2018 — the highest rate in the region.
The country also ranked No.1 in a 2019 survey by British broadband provider Plusnet of the best European countries for digital nomads due to its Internet quality, cost of living, and volume of co-working spaces.
The bill’s co-author and GroenLinks party member Senna Maatoug called the approval an “important step” for workers, giving them a chance to find a better work-life balance and reduced commuting time.
Steven van Weyenberg, a member of the D66 party and another co-author of the bill, added that employers could also benefit from this legislation as a “happy employee is a happy employer.”
Some Dutch businesses said continuing to allow remote working would facilitate productivity and worker satisfaction.
EU’s remote work movement
The Netherlands is just the latest among several EU countries that are now legislating remote work. In Spain, protection is offered to those who wish to work from home. Spanish firms are prohibited from promoting office-based employees over remote workers.
Meanwhile, in Portugal, a law was passed last year that bars employers from contacting employees outside of working hours.
In contrast, companies in the United States are grappling with how to get white-collar employees back to the office despite the majority’s wish to stay at home or implement hybrid work.