The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on labour relations and the organization of work across sectors. In many instances, employers have introduced remote working – or teleworking – in order to reduce the risk of infections at the workplace. While “remote working” and “teleworking” are often used interchangeably, the latter is highly dependent on the use of digital information and communication technologies.
Even before the start of the pandemic, the modernisation of teleworking policies has been a topic for Montenegro. As an EU accession candidate, the country is supposed to implement the EU framework agreement on telework agreed on by key social partners from EU. This framework agreement defines telework as voluntary, carried out under the same employment conditions as in employers’ premises with proper health and safety protection. It also ensures data protection, privacy rights and collective rights safeguarded."This framework agreement defines telework as voluntary, carried out under the same employment conditions as in employers’ premises with proper health and safety protection. It also ensures data protection, privacy rights and collective rights safeguarded."
The Covid-19 pandemic created the need to fast track the adoption of new teleworking rules. In order to better understand the needs and challenges faced in Montenegro, the ILO conducted in-depth interviews with representatives of the Employers’ Association, Trade Unions including the teachers’ union, and the Ministry of Economic Development in charge of labour. The ILO looked at the existing legal framework and listed the necessary updates and amendments. Because of teachers’ peculiar position during the pandemic, a special section describes the key challenges in education.
ILO recommendations for discussion include:
- The definition of teleworking in the Labour Code and the Responsibilities of Employers
- The working conditions for teleworkers/remote workers
- The rights of teleworkers (privacy rights, data protection, right to disconnect)
- Oversight and performance appraisal of teleworkers
- Provisions in the General Collective Agreement, and
- Specific recommendations for Employers on teleworking practices and the implementation of the Framework Agreement on Teleworking at the workplace.