The Dutch House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) recently adopted the legislative proposal 'Work where you want’.
Under this Act, Dutch employers may no longer simply reject an employee's request for adjustment of the workplace; they must assess whether, in the light of the circumstances of the case, the employer's interests outweighs the employee's interests according to the criteria of reasonableness and fairness. The legislative proposal still has to go through the Dutch Senate (Eerste Kamer). Would you like to know more about (the amendments to) the Act? Read it in this post.
Version one of the Act
On 19 November 2020 the legislative proposal for the ‘Work where you want’ Act was submitted. The Act amends the Flexible Working Act (Wet flexibel werken). Due to the COVID-19 crisis working from home became the norm. The proposed legislation will facilitate working from home after the crisis. The Work where you want Act does not create an unequivocal right to work from home, but aims to give employees more freedom in how they wish to organise the balance between working at a work location and another location, such as home. The employer may only reject a request for a change of workplace insofar as compelling business or service interests oppose this change.
Criticism on the Act
There was a lot of criticism on the Act. For example, the Social and Economic Council (SEC) advised to amend the Act so that the interests of employer and employee would be better balanced. The Advisory Committee on the Assessment of Regulatory Pressure (Adviescollege Toetsing Regeldruk) even advised the House of Representatives not to continue the parliamentary debate at all because it did not see the usefulness and necessity of the Act.
Amendment of the proposed legislation
As a result of the SER advice in particular, the initiators changed the proposed legislation on 9 June 2022. The original assessment of whether there are compelling business or service interests that oppose the change of workplace is no longer valid. Instead, the assessment that should be made is if, in view of the circumstances of the case, the interests of the employer must give way to the interests of the employee according to the standards of reasonableness and fairness.
With this, the employer must carefully weigh all the different employer and employee interests per specific case. At the same time, the employee must provide ‘a solid justification’ in his request. As a result, not only the interests of the employer play a role in the decision. This way, the dialogue between employer and employee is also promoted.
Voting The Dutch House of Representatives
Recently, on 5 July 2022, the Dutch House of Representatives voted on the amended Act. Despite the criticism, the negative opinions and many parliamentary questions, the proposal received support in the House of Representatives: 125 of the 150 members voted in favour.
It is up to the Senate
Before the Work where you want Act is actually introduced, it is first up to the Senate. Given the support in the House of Representatives, there is a good chance that the Senate will also agree. This will make the Netherlands the first country in the world with such legislation.
Do you already have – in anticipation of the (possible) new legislation – questions about changing the employee’s workplace, whether or not to his/her home location? Then you know where to find us; L&A advocaten has extensive experience with advising and litigation about working from home and hybrid working.