Teleworking from abroad before the Easter break

You asked, we listened! Many of you have contacted us recently to enquire about the possibility to telework from abroad before the Easter break [1], as was the case in summer 2020 and before Christmas ( setting a precedent).

We at Generation 2004 reacted promptly to your requests by asking DG HR to allow this flexibility again. It was our previous requests on your behalf that resulted in the possibility to telework from abroad for 2 weeks in the summer and before the Christmas break: these requests were accepted and led to a well-deserved and very-much-appreciated flexibility for staff, after months of isolation and restrictions due to the measures taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When we tabled this request at the Coronavirus information meeting held by DG HR on 12 January 2021, the issue of travelling from Belgium not being possible until 1 April was raised as a reason for not allowing teleworking abroad before Easter for anyone [2] (even the 35% of staff working outside Brussels). However, the press reports that this travel ban could be lifted earlier. Additionally, travel from Belgium is still possible in a number of cases as set out by the authorities. Importantly, travel is still possible (e.g. with a negative PCR test) to/from Luxembourg and to/from several other Commission sites. These two weeks of teleworking might again help cover mandatory quarantine periods.

Therefore, we sent a note to DG HR reiterating our request and listing the additional motivations above. We hope that the administration will show that it cares deeply for the well-being and mental health of staff and agree to apply a level of flexibility already enjoyed by colleagues in other EU institutions.

For those of you who would like to use the two Easter public holidays at another time, Thursday 1 April and Friday 2 April are flexibility days (public holidays you can choose to work [3] in order to have a day of annual leave in exchange (credited in July of the same year)). Check them out in sysper.

We will update you as soon as we receive the reply to this important and urgent request.

As usual, please contact us if you have any questions or comments.

[1] Update 16.3.2021: ‘In order to allow you to comply with the quarantine rules when going home or traveling during your annual leave, we are proposing that you could use a
maximum of 2 weeks of teleworking from abroad. This will be possible until the end
of the year. This should of course be done in agreement with your line managers and
taking into account the latest limitations or bans of your host country and the country of
destination.’

Update: at 24.3.2021 XXI information meeting on coronavirus this issue was clarified as being a ‘pot’ of 10 days which  must be used in combination with at least 5 days of annual leave (AL) each time, (e.g. 1 day telework + 5 AL days or 3 days of telework + 6 AL days). HR does not anticipate adding to this pot e.g. for Christmas 2021.  In a response (24.3.2021)  to a note on teleworking from abroad, HR explains the how these 10 teleworking-from-abroad days can be used.

Teleworking guidelines (updated 18 March 2021).

[2] Re-open EU Belgium: ‘From 27 January until 1 March, all non-essential travel to and from Belgium is prohibited.’ [Bold is not present in original]

[3] HR, 2018, Frequently asked questions on working time and time management, p. 9 Flexibility. Note that in 2020 we were encouraged by hierarchy to take these days in order to rest.

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