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Remote Work Legislation - Cyprus

The Regulation of the Organizational Framework of Telecommuting Law of 2023


1. Introduction

In a recent development, the Cyprus Parliament unanimously enacted a new law delineating the rights and responsibilities of both remote employees and their employers. The Regulation of the Organizational Framework of Telecommuting Law of 2023 (the “Law”) was published in the Official Gazette on December 1, 2023, and applies to employees of the private sector and to those of semi-governmental organisations. The Law comprehensively outlines the parameters for remote work but, notably, will not apply to the public sector, for which there will be other regulations, which are expected by the end of 2024.

2. Agreements for Optional Remote Work

The law emphasises that a formal agreement between the employee and employer is mandatory for optional remote work at a designated workplace. This implies that the agreement must occur:

(a) once the employment commences (i.e. during the recruitment process);

(b) during employment through an amendment of the employment agreement; or

(c) via a collective agreement.

3. Health Risk Crises

Clear guidelines are now in place for remote work during exceptional situations, such as public health crises, ensuring clarity and consistency. Employers can now impose remote work in public health crises, as issued by the Minister of Health, as employees can now request to work remotely for as long as necessary in the event of documented health risks which cannot be avoided by working on the premises of their employment.

4. Financial Support and Technical Assistance

Employers are now obligated to cover expenses incurred by remote employees working from home and provide necessary technical support for remote work. This includes providing necessary equipment to the employee, as well as any maintenance and repair costs associated with said equipment and the employee’s workplace. Means of telecommunications must also be provided.

5. Contract Information

In line with relevant laws, employers are also mandated to electronically communicate the terms of employment contracts to remote employees within eight days of the commencement of remote work. This information should include how the working conditions differ as a result of telecommuting and should include at least the following information:

(a) the right to disconnect;

(b) the analysis of the costs with which the remote employee is periodically burdened by telecommuting, including the cost of telecommunications, equipment and its maintenance, and the ways of covering said costs by the employer;

(c) the equipment necessary for the provision of remote work, which the remote employee has for the benefit of the employer or the employer provides to the employee and the procedures for technical support, maintenance and repair of damage to this equipment;

(d) any restriction on the use of the equipment or IT tools, including the internet, and any penalties in case of violation of such restriction;

(e) the agreement on telecommuting, its time limits and the response deadlines of the remote employee, in compliance with the provisions of the Law on the Organization of Working Time;

(f) the risks and protection and prevention measures during telecommuting based on the written risk assessment;

(f) the obligation to protect and secure the professional data and personal data of the telecommuting employee and the actions and procedures followed to fulfil this obligation; and

(g) the supervisor from whom the remote employee will receive instructions.

6. Protection Against Discrimination

The Law safeguards remote employees' labour rights and prohibits discrimination against those who choose not to work remotely. Moreover, the Law grants remote employees the same rights as those working at the establishments of the Employer as regards their workload, their assessment criteria and procedures, their evaluations and promotions, their access to employer-related information, their training and career development, their union activity and their unhindered and confidential communication with their union representatives.

7. Performance Evaluation and Privacy Protection

Employers must evaluate performance while respecting privacy and ensuring data protection for remote employees. Employers are obligated to carry out an impact assessment regarding personnel data protection after having previously consulted with the Commissioner for the Protection of Personal Data. This obligation arises prior to the implementation of any systems or tools for the monitoring of employees. Notably, an express prohibition exists for employers not to monitor employees continuously via means of cameras or analogous intrusive applications for the purposes of monitoring employee performance.

8. Risk Assessment for Health and Safety

Employers must conduct written risk assessments for remote work to ensure health and safety conditions for remote employees. In compliance with the provisions of the Safety and Health at Work Law and the Regulations issued pursuant to it, the employer must, among other things, -

(a) have at his disposal an appropriate and sufficient written assessment of the risks existing during telecommuting;

(b) determine the preventive and protective measures to be taken via a written risk assessment; and

(c) provide such information, instructions and training to ensure the safety and health of its employees.

9. Right to Disconnect

Remote employees have the right to disconnect from work-related electronic equipment outside of contracted hours as, under the Law, it is explicitly prohibited to discriminate against a remote employee exercising the right to divorce.

10. Medical Examination in Disputed Cases

Provisions are established for resolving disputes between employers and employees regarding health-related risks associated with remote work. In cases of disagreement between the employer and the employee’s right to work remotely due to health-related risks, employees will undergo medical examinations conducted by specialists.

11. Inspection and Enforcement

Inspectors will evaluate adherence to these stipulations, ensuring complete and effective implementation of the Law. Inspectors are authorised, pursuant to the Law, to enter workplaces by presenting their identity. Residences are excluded from unannounced inspections, as they require the owner’s consent for entry. Inspectors may furthermore request public services or other authority assistance, demand cooperation from both employees and employers and demand access to the facility. Notably, inspectors are granted the right to conduct checks, investigations, and interrogations to ensure compliance with this Law.

13. Penalties for Non-compliance

Non-compliance with the law carries a fine of up to €10,000, and obstruction of the inspectors' work is punishable by a prison sentence of up to six months and a fine of up to €10,000 or both. Notably, if a criminal offence is committed by a legal entity or organisation, individuals in advisory, chairmanship, directorial, secretarial or similar roles at the time of the offence are presumed guilty and subject to the penalties prescribed for such offence unless it is proved that such offences were committed without their consent or complicity or negligence.

14. Conclusion

The enactment of the Law marks a crucial step toward a fair, transparent, and inclusive work environment for private sector and semi-governmental employees. With the Law’s official publication, explicit provisions against discrimination, robust privacy safeguards, and measures for persons with disabilities signal a proactive and adaptable approach to the evolving nature of work. In light of the Law, we urge employers to ensure that:

(a) Their employment agreements for remote working employees are in line with the new Law;

(b) Review their privacy policies and practices, especially in regard to monitoring remote working employees;

(c) Review their evaluation procedures;

(d) Adequate financial support and technical assistance are given to remote employees, with such preparations clarified with their employees via contractual means.

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The content of this article is valid as of the date of its first publication. It is only intended to provide a brief introduction to the particular subject matter. Detailed specialist advice should be taken prior to taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the information contained in this article.


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