Teleworking outside the country of employment during the health crisis

Teleworking outside the country of employment

during the health crisis

Following the order of 13 April issued by the President of the Tribunal, confirming the validity of our legal analysis, R&D is making available to colleagues a model application for authorisation as well as the assistance of its specialised lawyers

Model request

Many of you thanked us for our flyer ( link ) and for our efforts to get the Commission, like other institutions, to soften the current rules on teleworking outside the country of employment during the health crisis.

We sincerely thank you for your support!

You have appreciated that throughout the discussions with our administration we have constantly recalled that the interests of the service must be balanced against the interests and personal situations of colleagues.

In this respect, we have always recalled the DUTY OF CARE which is imposed on our institution, confirming that article 20 of the Staff Regulations in no way prevents this balancing.

We also indicated that this balancing obligation was all the more necessary when the request of colleagues was motivated by imperative personal situations such as the need to be with their children, their spouse, their elderly or ailing parents or other important difficulties concerning family life. In order to assess the seriousness of these difficulties, we have also referred to the testimonies of the “ TWA ” group colleagues on 12 April to Commissioner Hahn.

And finally, we pointed out that DG HR’s position was even less understandable since it is now proposing a much more flexible approach to telework outside the country of employment under the “New Normal” than it was during the health crisis, which is simply an insult to colleagues who had their requests refused in the midst of the pandemic. 

Indeed, the latest proposal from DG HR states “…In exceptional circumstances, such as duly documented imperative family reasons, authorisation to telework abroad for a longer period may be granted by DG HR for one month, renewable under the same conditions. You may also be authorised to telework abroad if your annual leave has to be interrupted for emergency work “.

The order of 13 April 2021 of the President of the Court of First Instance recognising the validity of our legal analyses ( link )

We were pleased to note the Order of the President of the Court of First Instance of 13 April confirming our analyses and having finally dispelled the legal doubts that had been raised by DG HR.

In particular, the President of the Tribunal stated:

“ Although institutions have broad discretion in organising their services and adjusting staff working conditions to the constraints of the health situation, this discretion must be exercised with due regard for the duty of care “

In view of the above, it is now up to DG HR to ensure that the legal principles identified by the President of the Court of First Instance in his order are taken into account, and that they are necessary and urgent in the management of requests for authorisation to telework outside the country of employment during the health crisis.

DG HR must also ensure a fair and homogeneous application of these rules across all services, which is far from being the case at present, and put an end to the unreasonable and unnecessarily bureaucratic management of these requests, obliging colleagues to undergo a veritable obstacle course of collecting a whole series of visas/signatures!

As the President of the Court of First Instance recalled in his Order:

“ (…)when deciding on the situation of a staff member, the Authority shall take into consideration all the factors likely to determine its decision and, in so doing, shall take into account not only the interests of the service but also, in particular, those of the staff member concerned , This is all the more true in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic, which calls for the adoption of greater measures of care and support in response to personal situations which make the performance of duties particularly difficult ”

It is absolutely essential to avoid a situation in which, because the DG HR does not adopt the “accompanying measures” requested by the order, colleagues faced with an obvious lack of duty of care, with divergent interpretations within the services, with a multitude of bureaucratic passages…, in desperation to find a solution to the serious personal and family difficulties they face…are led to resort to “informal” solutions to “tacit agreements”…thus exposing themselves to consequences which can be very serious. 

R&D provides colleagues with a template for requesting permission to telework outside the place of employment …

In this context, true to its commitment to always accompany its political positions with unfailing individual assistance to colleagues, R&D is making available to staff a model request for authorisation to telework outside the place of employment, which should be sent to the line manager by each colleague wishing to use this possibility.

Similarly, R&D also provides interested colleagues with the assistance of its specialised lawyers to help them formulate their requests

Would you like an appointment online? Do not hesitate, contact us by email: : OSP-RD@ec.europa.eu

Throughout this terrible pandemic, the staff has shown exemplary dedication in enabling our institution to continue to carry out its missions.

Now it is simply a matter of demonstrating that our institution is capable of recognising these efforts by showing the care and confidence that our staff more than deserve.

Cristiano Sebastiani,
President

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