The Federation of Belgian Enterprise (FEB), the group that represents business owners, has said it is in favour of as much teleworking as possible, but is opposed to making it mandatory.
The statement was made by Kris De Meester, an expert in safety on the work floor for FEB, on the VRT radio consumer affairs programme De inspecteur. The issue of the day was employees being forced to come to work when the situation was not perfectly safe, and when working from home was a feasible option.
Members of the public called in with horror stories of employers who insisted people come to work at the office when it was clear that even the most basic protective measures such as mask wearing and social distancing were not being observed.
“We do not approve of these situations ourselves,” said De Meester.
“Our message is clear: make maximum use of telework. We advise employers to look closely at the possibilities. Check for each position whether a given job or part of the job can be done from home.”
The more people who work from home, the safer conditions will be for those who cannot avoid coming in to work.
“Telework means life is safer on the work floor,” he said.
But the organisation would be against any order to make teleworking obligatory – other in those cases where it is impossible – as was the case during the first lockdown in March.
“There are many people who do not like to work from home full time,” De Meester said.
“They may miss the workplace or colleagues, or they have to put up with children at home while they’re working. Or simply because their home is not suitable for teleworking. We have to make sure it is still possible for those people to come to the office.”
Even without a legal obligation, he said, most companies are doing their best.
“The figures we have available show that there is a lot of focus on teleworking. The percentage of people who work from home is about the same now as during the lockdown in March. That shows that companies are doing their best.”