Dutch Senate rejects Work from Home bill by a single vote
The Work from Home bill was rejected by one vote on Tuesday in the Eerste Kamer, the upper house of the Dutch parliament. The bill would have made it easier for employees to make agreements with their employers about working from home.
The “Work where you want” (“Wet werken waar je wilt”) bill would have meant that employers could not simply reject a request to work from another location, except for reasons grounded in “reasonableness and fairness.” Employers would have had to evaluate requests about working from home and other sites with the same consideration as when an employee requests to work more or fewer hours.
The proposal was rejected on Tuesday with 38 against and 37 in favor. Senators from the political party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the VVD, had not indicated ahead of time which way they were planning to vote. Their ten members of the Eerste Kamer shot down the bill on Tuesday.
They were joined by the biggest party in the Eerste Kamer, the BBB, which holds 16 seats. The other parties voting against include PVV (4 seats), Ja21 (3), FVD (2), SGP (2), and 50Plus (1).
The 14 members of the second-largest party, GroenLinks-PvdA, voted in favor of the bill. They were joined by CDA (6 seats), D66 (5), SP (3), Christen Unie (3), PvdD (3), Volt (2) and OPNL (1)
The proposal from GroenLinks and D66 was accepted by a large majority of the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, on July 5. Only the PVV, Forum voor Democratie, and Van Haga group voted against it.
Most factions seemed to accept the proposal during the debate in the Eerste Kamer on September 12. However, the spokespersons for some parties questioned its usefulness and necessity. Others wondered if the law would create too much regulatory pressure for employers.
There were also concerns about employees in border regions for whom arrangements made during the Covid-19 period would no longer apply.
Trade union FNV was not happy with the outcome of the vote. Vice President Kitty Jong told ANP that it was "cynical, detached from reality, and a missed opportunity" that the Senate "torpedoed" a proposal that had broad support in the country. "The House missed an opportunity here for party political reasons that would have been a necessary improvement in working conditions for many employees."