Germany plans for ‘right to work from home’ for a minimum of 24 days a year

Germany plans for 'right to work from home' for a minimum of 24 days a year
Working from home became a must for those who could manage during the lockdown. Photo: DPA
German Labour Minister Hubertus Heil wants to give as many employees as possible the right to at least 24 days per year working from home.

That's according to a draft law, the Mobile Work Act, that aims to allow 'home office' or working from home when appropriate after the pandemic ends.

In an interview with Bild Am Sonntag, Heil, of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) said: “Wherever possible, all employees should be legally entitled to at least 24 days per year for mobile work.”

“If both parents have a job in which mobile working is feasible, I propose that one parent should be able to work from home for one day every week, alternating between them. This makes family life much easier.”

Heil previously said that the right to work from home has come about as a response to seeing how successfully it had operated during the coronavirus lockdown.

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“The virus has taught us that much more mobile working is possible than we thought,” he said. “Mobile working is not only something for young people from agencies who sit in a cafe with a laptop and a latte macchiato.

“As mobile working is already part of the modern working world for some – but not yet made possible for many – it needs a law.”

READ ALSO: German government set to introduce permanent 'right to work from home'

Employees will have right to negotiate working from home

Heil said he wanted the 24 days to be understood as a lower limit. Employees and employers could also agree individually in collective agreements or company deals to work more at home.

“All employees will have the right to negotiate with their boss about mobile working,” he said, acknowledging that some industries cannot introduce this.

“Of course, a baker cannot bake rolls from home,” he said. Therefore, an employer can refuse the request if there are good reasons for it.”

However, the law will mean that employers can no longer reject mobile working on principle.

“In future, the boss and employee will negotiate on an equal footing,” said Heil. The law also stipulates that working hours in the home office must be digitally documented.

“In home office, too, there needs to be an end to work at some point,” he said.

However, not everyone is on board with the new plans signalling there may be some opposition to the draft law.

“Where home offices are possible, it's a win-win situation for both sides,” said Christian von Stetten, Chairman of the Parliamentary Group of Medium-Sized Businesses of the centre-right CDU/CSU parliamentary group.

“But the employer will continue to decide i future where the work he pays for is to be performed. The SPD should return to reality and not tell citizens any nonsense.”

Around 25 percent of Germans were working from home during the lockdown earlier this year, an increase from 12 percent before the strict measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 were put in place.


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