Mobile working regulations in Croatia

1. Is there any legislation relating to working from home in your country?

Yes. In Croatia, work from home is governed by the Employment Act (Official Gazette No. 93/2014, 127/2017, 98/2019), the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Official Gazette No. 71/2014, 118/2014, 154/2014, 94/2018, 96/2018) and accompanying bylaws.

2. How can working from home be implemented in a company, e.g. through collective bargaining agreements, unilateral decision, or employment contracts?

Work from home must be implemented by an employment contract or an amendment to it. Namely, the Employment Act explicitly prescribes the obligation for employers to expressly include terms regarding remote work in the employment contract (e.g. working time, necessary tools and equipment, reimbursement of costs, employee training, etc.). It is possible (and quite common) to regulate work from home through an employer’s policy, which is a practical approach, but does not exclude the obligation to regulate the matter in the employment contract.

3. Can an employer force an employee to work from home?

No, the employer cannot implement work from home unilaterally since this is subject to an agreement of both parties and must be regulated by the employment contract.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, recommendations by the Croatian government and the Civil Protection Directorate have been issued to promote remote work as much as possible and companies have widely utilised this option. Nevertheless, in order to ensure full compliance with the relevant provisions of the Employment Act, remote work should be regulated by mutual consent in the employment contract.

4. Can an employee force an employer to allow him to work remotely?

No, the employee cannot force the employer to allow remote work.

5. Does an employer have to provide the employee with office equipment and supplies for remote working?

Yes, the Employment Act requires the employer to provide the employee with the machines, tools and equipment necessary for remote work.

If the employee uses his own machines, tools and equipment for work, the matter of reimbursement of associated costs should be regulated in the employment contract.

6. Does a company have to reimburse an employee for expenses while working from home?

Yes, a company should reimburse an employee for expenses while working from home. However, there is no legal framework or published court practice, which would quantify work from home expenses or the manner of determining these costs (e.g. internet costs, electricity, other utilities, etc.). Hence, parties are advised to specify the reimbursement costs in the employment contract.

7. Does an employer have to grant an employee a specific work-from-home allowance? If so, under what conditions can an employer not pay such an allowance?

No, under the Employment Act there are no special allowances granted for work from home.

In general, the employer is obliged to pay the same wages for employees working from home as they would for employees performing work at the employer’s business premises.

8. Is an employer responsible for ensuring proper working conditions from a health and safety perspective for employees who are working remotely?

Yes, the employer must comply with the relevant health and safety measures prescribed under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to ensure a safe working environment, which does not endanger employee health, even in cases of remote work. Employees must also comply with the health and safety instructions of the employer and the relevant health and safety rules.

However, employers who implement remote work on an occasional basis (i.e. work of an administrative or similar nature that is deemed low risk) do not have to complete health and safety risk assessments of the homes of employees who are working remotely. This exemption applies solely for specific types of work, which are usually performed at an employer's premises and remotely only occasionally and which has previously been assessed and documented as low risk.

9. Are there any other specific obligations for the employer?

The employer must properly monitor and keep records of working hours for remote workers. In principle, provisions on work schedules, overtime work, night work, distribution of working hours, etc. apply to the remote worker also, insofar as these provisions are not regulated differently in the applicable labour-law sources (e.g. employment contracts, agreements with works council, collective bargaining agreements, etc.).

10. Does an employee need to be insured to work from home?

Under Croatian law, an employer is not obligated to insure employees.

Notwithstanding the above, the obligation to insure employees may be envisaged in CBAs, bylaws, agreements with the works council or other internal acts of the employer.

In practice, most employers insure their employees for work-related injuries regardless of their place of work.

Yes, the employee is protected for work-related accidents and illnesses in the same manner as employees working at the business premises of the employer.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act determines that a work-related injury includes both injuries that occur at the employer's business premises and other premises where employees perform work duties.

12. Is the employer permitted to charge employee claims for “working-from-home cost reimbursements” against his/her saved expenses (saved expenses could include the employee’s reduced costs for transportation, gasoline, lunches in restaurants and dry-cleaning charge)?

No.

13. Are there any other specific obligations on the employee?

N/A

14. Any other comments?

The Croatian legislator recognises that both employers and employees should be given more freedom and flexibility when agreeing on remote work, and as a result amendments to the provisions of the Employment Act regulating remote work have been announced. Discussions on these amendments are ongoing, but the timeline for their adoption is still unclear.