REMOTE WORK IN THE REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS
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Our Labor & Employement Practice Area Group shared their insights and experiences on topic of “workaction”, i.e work-from-anywhere in the different jurisdictions outlining the main issues that an employer should take into consideration. We have created a seven part series on this topic.
Part I of VII explains the position on this topic from the Republic of Cyprus.
One of the results of the Covid – 19 pandemic and the subsequent measures taken by Governments around the globe is a vast shift of the perception of working within the allocated premises of the Employer. As it is known, the working structure of companies had to evolve in order, first, to comply with the various health measures imposed by Governments during the pandemic, and secondly, with simultaneously maintaining their business’ going concern.
However, what began as a necessity quickly shifted the landscape of the traditional Employment structure and in addition it has remained as an Employment option. In the core of this shift are the technological breakthroughs that we have experiencing the last twenty years such as the global use of fast internet connectivity, the usage of certain applications like Teams, Zoom and others and the evolution of smart appliances.
It needs to be said that that this shift in the traditional Employment structure is not absolute and cannot be used in all jobs. The reader will definitely understand that many jobs require physical presence of the Employee at the work-space. However, in recent years newly created jobs, due to their nature, do not have this requirement.
As the abovementioned are very new to the Employment culture, and due to the emergency nature of the pandemic the legal position regarding Employment did not have the opportunity to shift or to handle the issues rising from the new status.
Legal Position in the Republic of Cyprus
The legal position regarding Employment in Cyprus is straight forward. The Employer and the Employee agree between them the core clauses regarding the Employment. One of the clauses handles the place of work. The Employment Agreements contains a clause specifying the place of work, however, this clause usually is followed by a subsection which further specifies that the Employer might or has the right to demand from the Employee to work from a different place.
Additionally, in cases where an Employment Agreement does not exist (which is a practice almost extinct) the Courts have determined that Employment will be determined by applying a factual Employment Test. The questions raised are based on what the Employer provides to the “Employee”
- Working space,
- All necessary equipment to carry out his work,
- Social Insurance,
- Other benefits.
Since the pandemic and the gradual introduction of remote working policies from Employers the legislature has not intervene in order to regulate the subject. As per the status quo, the issue is left to the Employer and the Employee to resolve. This has certain advantages and disadvantages.
Difficulties – Disadvantages – Advantages
A possible difficulty the Courts will potentially have, is applying the aforementioned test to determine if a person is an Employee or not where that person is working remotely.
Another disadvantage is that some Employers are hesitant to apply remote work for their Employees in fear of either losing control, or creating an unequal working environment within the Company (those that can work remotely and those that cant) hence losing the Company’s cohesion.
Additionally, from our experience Employers are reluctant to agree to remote working where the Employee wishes to work remotely from another Country. This reluctancy is due to the complications in such situations relating to Social Insurance payments, Taxation and placing a forum for dispute resolution.
On the other hand, many Employers use (again) where it can be applied remote working opportunities, either, to help their Employees in a difficult situation (i.e. in a personal health matter) or to minimise Company costs (Office rent and office equipment). Additionally, it seems that also the new generation of Employees are also keen in remote working, because they find it advantageous not to have to commute on a daily basis and that they spend more time with their family while at the same time they do not sacrifice their careers.
Remote working accelerated due to circumstances and is definitely here to stay. At the moment the legislature (in Cyprus) has not taken any steps to regulate it. It is often noted that, since the Employee – Employer relationship is often times self-regulated on these matters, that there is no need to intervene. We tend to agree. However, professional bodies, unions and the Ministry of Labour should closely monitor the situation and should intervene if needed.