Are you working from home? These are your rights to a physical work environment
Headaches, back pain, or stiffness in the neck and shoulders can occur just as easily at home as in the office. Your physical work environment profoundly impacts how you feel when you are working as well as your overall productivity.
It can be a considerable expense to invest in a proper home office setup. In addition, working from home under the current circumstances is not an entirely voluntary act for most. Consequently, few employees have had the opportunity to acquire a comfortable, ergonomic office chair and desk for their dedicated work space at home.
However, as an employee, you are not solely responsible for your physical work environment at home. When working remotely for more than 7.4 hours a week, you are covered by the same Working Environment Act rules, as were you working from your company's office. This means that the responsibility is also with your employer in terms of ensuring that you have a well-functioning physical work environment at home.
In this article, you will learn:
- How you are covered by the rules in the Working Environment Act, when working remotely.
- The relevant rules in the Working Environment Act for employees, working from home.
- What your employer must make available to you, so that you can furnish your home office ergonomically.
When am I entitled to an ergonomic home office?
As an employee, you are entitled to a suitable work environment – even if you are not physically at the company office.
There are two things that must be in place before your employer is required to insure that your home office satisfies the same requirements as your workstation at the office:
- Your work must consist of regular screen work (work in front of a computer or screen).
- Your working hours must be at least one work day per week (7.4 hours) or approximately 2 hours (give and take) of screen time every working day.
If this is not the case, your employer is free to allow you to work from your couch, let you experiment with your ironing board as an adjustable desk, or any other creative and non-ideal solutions you can come up with!
Read more about the rules for home offices here.
Ergonomic workspaces: rules and laws.
If you often work from home, while sitting in front of a screen, your employer must make sure that you have a safe physical work environment. While you are working, it is vital that you do not run the risk of sustaining any injuries or ailments.
Even though your employer is ultimately responsible for your working conditions, you must be aware that you are obligated to contribute to setting up an ergonomic office. Your employer doesn’t have access to your home and for this simple reason, your cooperation is required when furnishing an ergonomic workplace in your home.
The Working Environment Act dictates that you must work in a safe and healthy work environment, also when working from home or remote. You must have access to office furniture – for example a proper desk, chair, and lighting – that allows you to carry out your work. This furniture must also satisfy any other working requirements you might have.
The most important rules are as follows:
- Your desk and chair must fit your height. Even though an adjustable desk is the best choice, ergonomically speaking, your employer is not required to supply an electrical elevation desk – as long as they can provide a well-functioning desk. That said, it is integral that you are able to change your working position throughout the day, which makes an elevation desk, electric or mechanical, a safe bet.
- Your desk must be deep enough for you to place your monitor at a proper viewing distance. In addition to this, there must also be enough room for other peripherals and for you to be able to rest your arms on the desk.
- The seating height and angle of your chair must be adjustable, and it needs to be a chair that you can sit comfortably in for hours if this is required to complete your work.
Keyboard, monitor, mouse:
- The screen must be separate from the keyboard.
- The characters on your screen must be sufficiently large and easily discernible.
- The keyboard must be tiltable.
If you are interested in a detailed outline of the rules in question, you can find them on the Danish Working Environment Authority’s homepage.
Furnishing your home office: who pays?
Your employer is required to cover the costs of furniture, when you are working regularly from home (more than 7.4 hours per week).
This, however, does not mean that you have full control over the budget and can spend any amount at your favorite office furniture store.. Since most low-cost office furniture suppliers offer limited choices and in non-ideal designs, suited for a home, you could alternatively, choose to rent nicer furniture from a service like OMNI, where comfortability, design, and convenience are top priorities.
If you already possess the necessary furniture, you can agree with your employer to work under your present conditions, provided that you are financially compensated.
You can also explore the option to rent furniture through a gross salary scheme. Read more here.