Companies looking to save money by having their staff work at home in future have been dealt a setback by a Swiss court ruling ordering an employer to pay part of a worker’s rent.
The undisclosed business was ordered to pay 150 Swiss francs (£127) for each month that a former employee used their home office to work for the company, according to a ruling upheld by the country’s federal court last year that emerged in local reports over the weekend.
It comes as major tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter have committed to a significant portion of their staff working remotely after the coronavirus pandemic created a worldwide retreat from the office.
The company had argued that the employer, who worked from a home office, would have paid the rent anyway, did not rent the property with a view from working from home, and no compensation for a home office had been agreed.
However, the court ruled that they were “expenses which would also benefit the employer indirectly” and compared the situation to the use of a private car for business trips.
As part of a broader dispute over unpaid wages, it was ordered to pay 1,425 Swiss francs “for using his private room as an office”. The worker was not offered a desk at an office.
Swiss law requires employers to reimburse employees for costs incurred in carrying out work, including lodging at an external work site.
The ruling, which emerged in Swiss press at the weekend, predates the lockdown but could open the door to a wave of demands for employers to contribute to the costs of working from home. Some companies have given staff laptops and reimbursed the cost of office equipment as they work from home.