Minister of Labor Heil still wants a legal right to work from home

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Federal Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) plans to establish the home office permanently in everyday work in Germany. “I am in favor of us drawing fundamental consequences for the world of work from the corona-related, unplanned large-scale experiment with working from home,” Heil told dpa on Wednesday.

The traffic light coalition will create “modern rules for mobile working in Germany” and a legal right to work from home, according to the minister: “A modern regulatory framework for mobile working is coming.”

Heil’s plans stipulate that employers must enable their employees to work from home in the future – unless operational reasons speak against it. “If they want to refuse, there must be operational reasons – for example, because you work in the steelworks at the blast furnace and of course you can’t work from home,” explained Heil.

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

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

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

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At the same time, the Minister of Labor also pointed out “the downsides of working from home”, which he absolutely wanted to limit. “Work must not make you ill. Even when working from home, you have to call it a day.” The regulatory framework that his SPD party has agreed on with the Greens and FDP also takes this into account.

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

Federal Minister of Labor Heil has been trying for over two years to enshrine a legal right to work from home. So far, his plan had failed due to resistance from the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag – that could change in the new coalition with the FDP and the Greens.


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