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Work from home shouldn’t affect employees’ pay, work-life balance: Ministry


The Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs has issued guidelines of companies to follow on temporary telework (work from home) arrangements in response to COVID-19 crisis.

On March 18, the Council of Ministers decided to reduce the total number of private and public sector employees present at the workplace to 20 percent, while requesting the other 80 percent to telework or work from home. There are some exceptions for enterprises providing vital services.



According to the guideline, teleworking conditions of employment should remain the same as before. 

The employee's wage and benefits, including the provision of food and accommodation or the payment of allowances, should not change as a result of teleworking 


Working hours

Employers and teleworkers need to discuss and agree on teleworking hours and times during which they can be contacted. The number of teleworking hours should not exceed the average that was previously applied at the workplace. Note: For most sectors, the working hours were reduced from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm (6 hours per day) during the crisis


Overtime

In sectors where working hours have been reduced to 6 hours per day: workers can agree to work a maximum of 2 hours of overtime per day if mutually agreed with the employer.

In sectors that are operating on normal working hours and were excluded from the Decision on reduced working hours: workers should continue to work 8 hours per day, and a maximum of 2 hours of overtime per day if mutually agreed with the employer, as per the Labour Law.

Management support 

The effective management of teleworking requires a result-based management approach. This involves identifying work objectives and tasks, and then monitoring and discussing progress. It is necessary to factor some adjustments in the work plan and work targets, in accordance with the challenges and changes engendered by the crisis.


Equipment and supplies

To the extent possible, the employer provides the necessary equipment and supplies that are needed to ensure the employees' performance of their job duties. This includes electronic equipment. In this framework, we encourage managers to share online tutorials on how to use and access the company intranet, to access emails remotely, and to install security protocols and handle sensitive files remotely.


Safety and health 

The employee's home workspace, when used for teleworking, is an extension of the workspace. Isolation at home can have a significant impact on the mental health of workers. Officials and supervisors should develop strategies to address safety and health of teleworkers,. This can for example include organizing virtual weekly team meetings and daily check-in calls.


Guidelines for teleworkers 

Working hours and rest 

Teleworkers should be contactable during the working hours agreed upon with the supervisor. Teleworkers are expected to maintain the same level of competence, productivity and quality of work as before the crisis. 

While teleworking, workers should not perform other personal activities during work hours. If at any time an employee is not performing official duties, the employee must take leave as appropriate. 


Leave 

Teleworking should not be used in place of annual, sick, or any other type of leave. Requests to use leave must be submitted, discussed and approved by the supervisor following the usual policy.


Equipment 

The teleworker should request guidance from their supervisor regarding the possibility to receive equipment, supplies and training that are needed to perform job duties from home. The employee shall return all enterprise-owned equipment, software and data files at the end of the teleworking period, while it is necessary to maintain the confidentiality and security of the information.  


Work-life balance 

Teleworkers should maintain a boundary between work and personal life by identifying a dedicated workspace and learning to disconnect from work at specified times reserved for rest and personal life.


Source: Qatar Tribune

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