Should employees get paid for electricity bills? workers must act now, says experts - The EE

Should employees get paid for electricity bills? workers must act now, says experts

Diana Blazaitiene of Soprana Personnel International

30 November 2022 – Soaring energy bills all over Europe have many remote employees rethinking their arrangements with their employers compensation-wise. As many recently received much higher bills for electricity, working from home is becoming more expensive than commuting to the office. The increased cost of living and the continuing fight for talents across industries make now the best time for workers to act on boosting their compensation packages or asking for a salary raise.

A Lithuanian branch of a Scandinavian Danske Bank has taken matters into its hands to compensate inflation-related higher bills for all bank’s workers whether remote or on-site while another bank, SEB, will be reportedly implementing a similar practice in the country.

Other companies all over the world are already providing work-from-home stipends that cover the costs of a home office, like furniture, computers, faster Internet connection, or even coffee and food. The benefits package is gradually expanding in some countries as well. For instance, Portugal passed a new law entitling remote workers to demand compensation for electricity and Internet bills.

Adjusted compensation packages beneficial to both sides

When an employer is motivated to retain talents and create desirable working conditions for their employees, they might be especially open to negotiating electricity or other utilities’ bill compensation or increasing the salary, Ms. Diana Blazaitiene, a remote work expert and founder of Soprana Personnel International, a recruitment and remote teams outsourcing solutions agency, says.

“Remote workers actually belong to a group of the most financially fragile people at the moment, and high bills are one of the requests remote employees have been having lately,” she adds. “Therefore, they should play the current qualified employee shortage to their advantage and negotiate compensation for the utilities they use while working at home.”

If the employer cannot foot the utilities bill, Ms. Blazaitiene says remote workers are justified in asking for a salary raise instead. While home office expenses may be more relevant to remoters, on-site workers are also fully entitled to get financial allowances due to inflation-related higher bills.

“Increased electricity and energy bills are also a valid reason to ask for a bigger salary or at least a bonus during the cold season. It is much more detrimental to the employer to lose an employee and incur additional expenses of replacing them than increasing the salary. So this might be a satisfactory compromise to both sides,” the expert maintained.

The benefit of compensating the workers’ energy bills is also twofold not only do the employees feel their working environment requirements are met, but it also gives companies a competitive edge when fighting for new talents.

“A new hire who is not a good fit for the company can cost up to 30K per year, and replacing them takes hours of research and preparation. Therefore, it makes sense to retain current qualified employees, and covering certain bills like electricity or energy helps businesses to do that. They are actually saving money by including the compensation in the benefits package,” the expert says.

Ms. Blazaitiene also notes that in many countries, employers are still not legally obligated to cover remote employees’ expenses. Therefore it might take some maneuvering on the employee’s part to create the home office conditions they need.

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