Senate votes down working from home law, fearing red tape

A mother working from home on her laptop with her young child sitting on the table beside her.
Photo: Depositphotos

Legislation that would have made it easier for employees to discuss working at home with their bosses has been voted down by the senate.

It had looked as if there was majority backing for the plan after last week’s debate but now senators have decided there are too many problems with the draft law. In particular, senators had doubts about whether the legislation was really necessary and about the extra red tape for employers.

The outgoing coalition is well short of a majority in the upper house of parliament and the pro-farmers BBB, which emerged as the biggest after the election, had said it would vote against the plan.

It was joined by other parties on the right and far right, as well as the fundamentalist Protestant SGP in voting no. If the legislation had passed, it would have prevented employers refusing to allow staff to work from home without a good reason.

A recent study by the infrastructure ministry found evidence that home working had been built in to many employees’ routines, with people working from home for an average of 1.1 days a week.

Statistics from Dutch rail firm NS suggest commuters are less likely to travel to work five days a week than before the pandemic. On Tuesdays, for example, the number of check-ins was down by 31% between 8am and 9am and 26% lower between 5pm and 6pm.

The government has also introduced a tax-free home working allowance of €2.13 per day to cover the cost of running a home office. This is a voluntary benefit and employers are not required to pay it.

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