Home office: Hubertus Heil demands the right to mobile working

Even after the pandemic
Labor Minister Heil wants to introduce the right to work from home – criticism from employers

Full offices could be a thing of the past even after Corona. Labor Minister Heil is pushing for a legal basis for the home office.

© Britta Pedersen / DPA

Working from home could remain the norm even after the pandemic. Labor Minister Hubertus Heil wants to promote a legal basis that allows employees to work permanently on the move.

Working from home has become normal for many people in the corona pandemic. It could stay that way. Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil wants to establish the home office permanently in everyday German work – even after the pandemic.

Labor Minister Heil wants to create the legal basis for home office

“I am in favor of the fact that we draw fundamental consequences for the world of work from the corona-related, unplanned large-scale attempt to work from home,” Heil told the German Press Agency on Wednesday. According to the minister, the Ampel-Coalition will create “modern rules for mobile working in Germany” and a legal right to work from home: “A modern regulatory framework for mobile working is coming.”

Heil’s plans provide that employers must enable their employees to work from home in the future. “If they want to reject this, there must be operational reasons against it – for example because you work on the blast furnace in the steelworks and of course you can’t work from home,” said Heil.

“But if the employer cannot give any operational reasons, then the legal right to be able to use home office applies. This finally gives many people the opportunity to work from home even after the pandemic. This is how we create a better family balance and profession. ” For many people, mobile working means “a new freedom,” stressed Heil.

Heil also warns of the downsides of the home office

But his perception is also that many do not want to work from home permanently, but only occasionally. For this, too, he wanted to “create more flexibility,” said Heil.

With the start of the corona pandemic in spring 2020, the practice of mobile working in Germany has fundamentally changed. Employers who previously did not do this voluntarily have been obliged since November to offer their employees work from home – unless there are operational reasons against it. Heil wants to establish this duty permanently.

At the same time, however, the Minister of Labor also pointed out “the downsides in the home office”, which he absolutely wanted to narrow down. “Work shouldn’t make you sick. Even in the home office there has to be time after work.” This is also taken into account by the regulatory framework that the SPD politician agreed on with his party and the Greens and the FDP.

Employers’ associations reject home office rights

Meanwhile, criticism came from the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations. This rejects a right to work from home decidedly.

General Manager Steffen Kampeter said in Berlin: “The state does not create trust with new regulations, but rather sets the perspective of the ministerial bureaucracy on the further developed operational practice.”

“In parts of the coalition there is obviously a muddle between the party program and the coalition agreement,” criticized Kampeter. “Because the coalition agreement of the traffic light parties does not provide for the creation of a legal claim, but a right to be discussed when working from home. Home office is standard in many companies and will remain so after the pandemic.

More than a quarter of employees in Germany currently work from home

Kampeter also said that it was important, as foreseen by the coalition agreement, to clearly distinguish between teleworking and home office as a form of mobile work. “Mobile work can only be promoted by promoting broadband expansion, more flexible working hours and the option of employers to delegate work-time recording obligations to employees. This includes not only office workplaces, but also various areas of production.”

According to the latest information from the Munich-based Ifo Institute, according to a company survey in December of last year, 27.9 percent of employees worked at least temporarily in the home office. In August the rate was 23.8 percent.


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