COVID-19: Adopting Remote Working Measures

Introduction

COVID-19 (the coro­n­avirus) con­tin­ues to impact the glob­al and local com­mu­ni­ty, all the staff of Dr Wern­er and Part­ner have been mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion of the COVID-19 and imple­ment­ing dif­fer­ent mea­sures to make sure that we are all stay­ing safe.

As a Com­pa­ny, the main goal is to pro­tect your own peo­ple and to con­tin­ue busi­ness as usu­al with no seri­ous dis­rup­tions to client ser­vice lev­els. To this effect the Busi­ness Con­ti­nu­ity Plan (BCP) is a very impor­tant doc­u­ment.

The BCP is not to be seen as oth­er Poli­cies and Pro­ce­dures. It is aimed at ensur­ing, in the case of an inter­rup­tion to its sys­tems and pro­ce­dures, the preser­va­tion of essen­tial data and func­tions, and, where that is not pos­si­ble, the time­ly recov­ery of such data and func­tions.

Remote Work­ing mea­sures shall ensure the smooth run­ning of the day-to-day oper­a­tional activ­i­ties whilst con­tin­u­ing to pro­vide esteemed clients busi­ness as usu­al with min­i­mal dis­rup­tion. In the cur­rent envi­ron­ment, the health and safe­ty of every­one is a shared respon­si­bil­i­ty and one that us to be tak­en very seri­ous­ly.

Remote Working Policies

Cer­tain con­tin­gen­cies must be in place to ensure con­ti­nu­ity of work.

TIP: We sug­gest that togeth­er with the Busi­ness Con­ti­nu­ity Plan, your Com­pa­ny also imple­ments a Remote Work­ing Pol­i­cy.

An Employ­ee Remote Work­ing pol­i­cy should out­line a Company’s guide­lines for employ­ees who work from a loca­tion oth­er than their offices.

To ensure that employ­ee per­for­mance will not suf­fer in remote work arrange­ments, remote employ­ees are advised to:

  • Choose a qui­et and dis­trac­tion-free work­ing space;
  • Have an inter­net con­nec­tion that’s ade­quate for their job;
  • Ded­i­cate their full atten­tion to their job duties dur­ing work­ing hours;
  • Team mem­bers and man­agers should deter­mine long-term and short-term goals;
  • There should be fre­quent online meet­ings to dis­cuss progress and results.

Tips for remote workers

Occupational Health and Safety

The employ­er is respon­si­ble for the pro­tec­tion of occu­pa­tion­al health and safe­ty of the remote work­ers in accor­dance with Coun­cil Direc­tive about ‘the intro­duc­tion of mea­sures to encour­age improve­ment in the health and safe­ty of work­ers at work’ (Direc­tive 89/391/EC) and rel­e­vant direc­tives, nation­al leg­is­la­tion, name­ly the Occu­pa­tion­al Health and Safe­ty Author­i­ty Act, and col­lec­tive agree­ments.

Giv­en the very lim­it­ed con­trol over the remote worker’s phys­i­cal move­ment and activ­i­ty whilst engaged in remote work­ing, the employer’s health and safe­ty respon­si­bil­i­ty in respect of the remote work­er is lim­it­ed only to the spe­cif­ic place where­in the Employ­ee will be work­ing from.

Remote Working in line with the GDPR

Com­pa­nies should abide by the GDPR to pre­vent data breach­es and enhance data secu­ri­ty. The main pur­pose of the GDPR is to pro­tect per­son­al infor­ma­tion and reduce the num­ber of data breach­es by allow­ing more con­trol over per­son­al and sen­si­tive data. Putting a remote working pol­i­cy in place is essen­tial for man­ag­ing a remote team and keep­ing the data secure.

Remote work­ing may impose huge risks for a Com­pa­ny if data is lost or dam­aged. Remote work­ing is a very prac­ti­cal exam­ple of how easy it is to breach the GDPR. In order to min­i­mize such risks, Com­pa­nies are to adopt remote work­ing poli­cies as part of their busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity mea­sures so as to ensure that busi­ness is done as usu­al and data is safe­guard­ed accord­ing­ly.

For this rea­son, as a remote work­er it is impor­tant to keep the equip­ment pass­word pro­tect­ed. Remote work­ing does not mean that you can work from whichev­er loca­tion you choose. It is impor­tant to have a ded­i­cat­ed work­space where­by the data on your equip­ment can be pro­tect­ed, the same way it is pro­tect­ed when you are at the office, or even bet­ter.  In this regard it is also impor­tant to fol­low all data encryp­tion, pro­tec­tion stan­dards and set­tings, and refrain from down­load­ing sus­pi­cious, unau­tho­rized or ille­gal soft­ware.

When adopt­ing remote work­ing poli­cies, Com­pa­nies are to make sure that remote employ­ees are pro­hib­it­ed from using pub­lic Wi-Fi. Why?

It is NOT com­plete­ly safe to con­nect to a pub­lic Wi-Fi, espe­cial­ly when using office equip­ment and soft­ware which con­tain impor­tant data and infor­ma­tion.  Hack­ers can eas­i­ly fetch per­son­al data by doing a Man in the mid­dle Attack (MITM). In a MITM attack the hack­ers access pack­ets of data which will be trans­mit­ting between a device and the pub­lic hotspot.

For every pro­cess­ing of per­son­al data there needs to be a com­pli­ance process which com­plies with the GDPR. If you are inter­est­ed to know more, con­tact us on gdprcompliance@drwerner.com.

Conclusion

The most impor­tant thing is that you Stay Safe and that you make sure to pro­tect your own peo­ple and to con­tin­ue busi­ness as usu­al with no seri­ous dis­rup­tions to client ser­vice lev­els.

In Mal­ta, we might see force majeure as being far­fetched how­ev­er, COVID-19 is a con­cern for many peo­ple around the world, and not only because of its med­ical impli­ca­tions but also of the legal impli­ca­tions there­of. At Dr Wern­er and Part­ner, we adopt­ed remote work­ing mea­sures and thus we are putting our Busi­ness Con­ti­nu­ity Plan into prac­tice. Should you need any fur­ther infor­ma­tion or guide­lines on how to draft and imple­ment effec­tive Poli­cies and Pro­ce­dures, con­tact us on info@drwerner.com.

About Dr. Rebecca Mifsud

Dr Rebec­ca Mif­sud, born 6th May 1994, attend­ed the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mal­ta and is an LLB Hon­ours grad­u­ate. She also grad­u­at­ed in the Mas­ters in Advo­ca­cy and will be sit­ting for her Mal­ta War­rant Exam in 2019. She suc­cess­ful­ly defend­ed her dis­ser­ta­tion enti­tled: ‘Imput­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty for foot­ball injuries inflict­ed by minors in the Mal­tese sce­nario,’ in 2017.

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