Germany initiates the law on home office

Germany initiates the law on home office
Germany initiates the law on home office

According to a new draft law by the Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) there, employees in Germany should be able to work more easily from a location of their choice. They should be given the right to discuss a wish for regular mobile work with their employer. The draft for the “Mobile Work Act” went to the vote within the government on Monday, according to coalition circles. Employers should have to specifically address the desired design of mobile work. If you reject the application, you should have to give reasons in writing after two months at the latest.

With the departmental vote, Heil opened the legal procedure with the aim of a resolution in the Federal Cabinet and deliberations by the Bundestag and Bundesrat. Heil had already presented a draft at the beginning of October, but the Federal Chancellery had not approved it for departmental coordination. Originally, Heil wanted employees to be able to work mobile or in the home office 24 days a year if there were no operational reasons against it.

According to the draft submitted by the dpa, this is no longer planned. Employees who want to work mobile on a regular basis should notify the employer of the start, duration, scope and distribution of mobile work at least three months in advance. The work should therefore be able to be done at a location of choice or at locations agreed with the employer. If the employer does not comply with his obligation to explain or discuss, mobile work should be considered fixed for a maximum of six months. The “Handelsblatt” also reported on the ministerial coordination that had started.

“The federal government and the states are currently calling for employees to work from home wherever possible,” said Heil of the dpa. “Now is the time to create a sensible and modern regulatory framework for this.” The Union and SPD had already promised to promote mobile work in the coalition agreement. The coalition had announced a legal framework, which should include a right of employees to information about the reasons for a refusal.

Insurance coverage gaps

There are also gaps in insurance coverage, said Heil. “If you drive to work today, bring your child to the daycare center and drive on from the daycare center to work, you are insured against accidents because it is a commute,” he explained. Anyone who takes the child to daycare and then drives to the home office officially has no way to work. Heil: “That’s not okay.”

The draft law states: “In the future, employees, insofar as they work from home or at another location outside the company premises, will enjoy the same level of insurance protection as when they work in the company premises.” The journey to and from childcare facilities should also be recorded when working in the same household.

In addition, according to the draft, there should also be occupational safety in the home office. The parties to the collective bargaining agreement and the company should also be able to make their own regulations on mobile work. And for employees with regular mobile work, the entire working time should be recorded in full every day. Heil said that home office should not lead to the delimitation of work into private life. “Even in the home office, work has to be done and a minimum level of occupational safety must apply.”

Heil called on the Union to give its consent, even if there was no majority in the coalition for a legal right to work from home: “Let’s not get stuck here, but let’s do the things that are a majority and now also necessary.”

Tax flat rate is advocated

Heil commented positively on a possible tax lump sum for the home office. “We need to talk about tax deductibility,” he said. “At the moment it is the case that the tax sales opportunities for the home office relate to a permanent office. But who has that? Very few are.” Heil said: “A lump sum is an uncomplicated and good possible way.”

Heil pointed out the limits of mobile working. “If you work in the steelworks or bake bread, you can’t do that from home, of course.” In other professions, however, people could also work from home for a few days after the pandemic. “That saves stress in traffic jams and allows more time with the family.” However, many employees also wanted to work physically with their colleagues. “People shouldn’t be sent to the home office unintentionally.” Heil: “Only where it is operationally possible and where it is wanted, this possibility should be created.” (dpa)

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