On 15 February 2021, the Slovakian National Labour Inspectorate published new guidance on occupational health and safety (“OHS”) regarding working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why is it important? The area of OHS during working from home was not regulated until this guidance was issued. This meant Slovak employers had to rely solely on best practices, sound judgment and often accept the risks connected with strict “non-pandemic” OHS regulations.

From a practical point of view, the guidance has resolved several controversial issues regarding employers’ responsibilities. More details are set out below:

Home office and workplace

The guidance states that the employer is not responsible for the condition of the employee's workplace when working from home. This also applies to the condition and revision of the electrical installation, heating equipment, and other energy equipment.

In addition, the employer is not responsible for meeting the ergonomic requirements of the home workplace (e.g., a chair or a desk).

Work equipment

On the other hand, the employer should provide the employee with suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working, if not agreed otherwise. This work equipment must meet the OHS requirements. It means, for example, that if the employee works with an electrical appliance such as a computer, it is necessary that it meets the safety requirements and is inspected/revised at the regular intervals imposed by law/technical standards.

If the employee uses computer technology, the employer must:

  • provide him/her with an external monitor, as the screen must be separated from the keyboard (i.e. a laptop is not enough);
  • provide him/her with an ergonomic keyboard and mouse;
  • ensure, that s/he regularly interrupts work with the visual display unit (e.g. a monitor), at least every four hours of continuous work;
  • take into account the aspect of security in connection with the protection of company data and the principles of personal data protection.

Employers are furthermore obliged to ensure that employees completed OHS training aimed to work with computer technology. In addition, employers must respect the right of employees to disconnect after working hours.

Last but not least, the guideline emphasizes the necessity to maintain a work-life balance, psychohygiene, ensure regular communication with employees, or prevent remote employee isolation.

The full wording of the guideline is available here, in Slovak.