The Hungarian association “Employers’ Forum for Equal Opportunities” (Munkáltatók Esélyegyenlőségi Fóruma – MEF) organised a conference on 21st October 2015 entitled “Teleworking – One more opportunity for employment”. Representatives of numerous well-known companies and organisations participated in the discussions about best practices on atypical forms of employment in general and on teleworking in specific. Petra Bölöni and Csilla Szentiványi from Andrássy University Budapest participated in the event in the frame of the research project ExpAct.
The topic of the conference is particularly relevant in the Hungarian and European context because flexible forms of employment are considered as a possible solution for dealing with demographic change and the related shortage of skilled workers. As an example, the introduction of teleworking may enable persons with reduced working capacity to enter the labour market more easily, leading to an increase in employment rates. Also, employee satisfaction may be significantly raised, thus making a contribution to the fight against brain drain.
The conference served as a forum for discussing the topic of teleworking from different angles. Not only the current legal and regulatory frameworks were outlined, but also current and future trends were discussed. The Hungarian occupational health and safety regulations in place were cited as the most important barrier to the take-up of teleworking in Hungary, deterring many employers from making use of this opportunity. Therefore, the employers’ forum proposes, on the basis of ILO Convention 177 on Home Work, to modify the relevant passages of the Hungarian Labour Code and to adapt them to current requirements. By redefining the term “workplace” and by distributing responsibilities concerning occupational safety more equally between employers and employees, an important precondition could be created for a wider implementation of teleworking.
In the afternoon a panel discussion with representatives of Magyar Telekom Nyrt., MOL Nyrt., E.ON Hungária Zrt. and BP Magyarország Kft. was organized on best practices concerning teleworking in these companies. Participants highlighted the positive effect of teleworking on employee satisfaction and reported a significant decline in employee fluctuation, whereas the previous concerns of some managers regarding a feared decrease in labour productivity have not found any confirmation.
Within the frame of ExpAct project, the wider introduction of atypical forms of employment is considered as an important step towards facilitating the access of older adults who wish to remain active to professional or voluntary fields of activity. Thanks to the informal atmosphere of the conference, new contacts with several companies could be established, with whom possibilities of cooperation linked to the Hungarian pilot will be explored.