© Reuters. A girl works in a home amid the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) outbreak in Sassenheim


By Toby Sterling

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Because the world convulses in disaster, and tens of tens of millions of us dig in for the lengthy haul of working from house, one query looms massive: who pays for the tea and bathroom paper?

The reply, based on the Dutch, is your bosses.

And the way a lot? About two euros ($2.40) per working day, on common.

That is meant to cowl not solely espresso, tea and bathroom paper utilized in work hours, but in addition the additional fuel, electrical energy and water, plus the depreciation prices of a desk and a chair – all necessities that you simply’d by no means dream of paying for within the workplace.

“Now we have actually calculated all the way down to what number of teaspoons there are in a median family, so from there it isn’t that tough to determine the prices,” mentioned Gabrielle Bettonville of household funds establishment NIBUD, which is principally funded by the federal government and researched the additional prices of distant working.

Such accounting could appear considerably trivial at a time when the world is overwhelmed by a once-in-a-century pandemic, but they’re related as consultants predict a deep decline in office-based work may very well be a everlasting legacy of the disaster.

Dutch authorities have already began making use of NIBUD’s analysis, citing it to supply bureaucrats working from house a 363 euro COVID-19 “bonus” this yr, beginning in March when the nation went into lockdown.

After all, the two euros a day is for a median employee with common prices, however could be tweaked relying on measures reminiscent of house heating and water prices, or the standard of insulation.

It doesn’t cowl new furnishings, computer systems, telephones, or different gear which NIBUD says staff ought to obtain from their employers if essential for his or her work.


Different international locations are additionally shifting to regulate to the brand new work-from-home actuality, conscious that many staff have little urge for food to return to the workplace full-time even as soon as the pandemic has handed.

Spain has obliged employers to pay for house workplace upkeep and gear; Germany is debating a invoice enshrining distant staff’ rights; France has handed a legislation shielding them from after-hours e-mail; whereas Britain has hinted that it might loosen up the principles on tax deductions for work-related gear bought throughout the pandemic.

However few nations have delved into the element as deeply because the Dutch.

“The federal government has set a very good instance right here,” mentioned Jose Kager of FNV, the nation’s largest labour union, which needs all home-workers to obtain compensation alongside the strains laid out by NIBUD.

“We’re speaking about structural, ongoing prices of working from house,” she added.

Lots of FNV’s members nonetheless need to bodily present up for work, reminiscent of these at paint-maker AkzoNobel’s factories and Heineken (OTC:)’s breweries. However most financial institution staff, insurance coverage firm staff, name centre staffers and plenty of others have been working from house since March. Round 80% of Dutch staff are lined by collective labour agreements.

Financial institution ABN Amro pays for staff to outfit their house places of work, however routine bills stay an open query. Spokesman Jarco de Swart mentioned the financial institution didn’t consider staff would ever work from the workplace greater than three days per week.


Nonetheless, as ever, there’s two sides to the story. And executives argue additional funds make little sense at a time when the coronavirus disaster has floored the economic system.

Dutch employers’ affiliation AWVN spokesman Jannes van der Velde mentioned the NIBUD calculations didn’t mirror all the advantages house staff had been having fun with.

“This name from unions for everyone to get compensation as a result of folks are actually making their very own espresso at house – one would possibly observe that staff are additionally getting quite a lot of free time in alternate,” he mentioned, citing common time financial savings of 1 hour on every day commutes.

Whereas staff must be compensated for house workplace prices, that will probably be offset by cuts to their compensation for lease vehicles and different journey advantages, he added.

“It will not be the case that folks, just about wherever, are going to get an additional “bonus” on high of their wage – undoubtedly not throughout an financial recession.”

And, in fact, there are limits.

Absolutely it makes good sense for a boss to cough up for a productivity-enhancing cappuccino machine?

Apparently not, based on Jeroen van Velzen of the Dutch inside ministry, which is masking extra prices on a case-by-case foundation.

“No, in fact that is restricted to the issues which might be wanted to have the ability to carry out your work,” he mentioned.

($1 = 0.8490 euros)