The requirements of the manual for remote work will be brought into legislation, occupational health service becomes complete

02.06.2022 | 12:18

The government approved and sent for discussion to the Riigikogu, amendments to legislation that make the service of occupational health complete, covering in the future, in addition to health check-ups of employees, preventive activities as well as the assessment of the working environment. The fulfilment of rules on occupational health and safety will also become clearer for remote work, as the current requirements of the remote work manual will be stipulated in legislation.
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The government approved and sent for discussion to the Riigikogu, amendments to legislation that make the service of occupational health complete, covering in the future, in addition to health check-ups of employees, preventive activities as well as the assessment of the working environment. The fulfilment of rules on occupational health and safety will also become clearer for remote work, as the current requirements of the remote work manual will be stipulated in legislation.

According to the amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the occupational health doctor must, in the future, analyse the occupational health situation of the company as a whole. "This means that the occupational health doctor, together with their team, in addition to executing health check-ups of employees, must also evaluate the general occupational health situation of the company. This may include visits to the work environment of the company to make proposals for its improvement. This will increase the cooperation with employers in improving the working environment and promoting the health of its employees", said Tanel Kiik, Minister of Health and Labour.

A study on occupational health services(PDF), made two years ago shows that only 27% of employers have considered the results of the risk analysis when organising health check-ups for their employees, while only 31% of employers highlighted that the occupational health doctor had visited their work environment. This means that the cooperation between the employer and occupational health care doctor is limited in improving the working environment and promoting the health of employees, often being limited only to executing the health check-ups of employees. The aim of these amendments is to improve the organisation and quality of occupational health services, including the cooperation of employers and occupational health doctors, to support the protection of the health of employees, as well as prevent and detect occupational health problems at an early stage.

Another important amendment to the legislation is the stipulation of the obligations of the employer in ensuring a safe working environment in the case of remote work, as well as specifying the rights and obligations of employees. "The amendments take into consideration the limited possibilities of the employer in ensuring a safe work environment in the case of remote work, as the employee executes work outside of the premises of the employer, for example in a library or at home. For the employer to ensure a safe working environment, they must ensure the risk evaluation of the work environment and the guidance of the employee, among others, on how the employee can mitigate the risks of the working environment and create a safe working environment for themselves, the organisation of health check-ups for the employee, as well as the investigation of accidents at work and occupational diseases. The obligation will be added to employees to ensure the safety of one’s own work environment, approached from the guidelines given by the employer", stated Minister Kiik.

According to the data of Statistics Estonia from 2021, there were 582 600 employees in Estonia. The data of the Estonian labour force study indicates that in 2021, 180 800 employees worked remotely. This represents 27.8% of all employed persons.

 

Irina Kuzina

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