[Germany] Labour Minister Wants To Enshrine Right To Work From Home In Law

14 MAY 2020

Hubertus Heil - Germany’s Labour Minister - is working on legislation to give employees the right to work from home even after the COVID-19 pandemic abates, Reuters reports.

Mr Heil reportedly told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, “Everyone who wants to and whose workplace allows it should be able to work in a home office - even when the coronavirus pandemic is over.” 

An estimated 25 per cent of Germans are now said to be working from home, in the wake of school closures and many companies encouraging home working in an effort to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus. This usual figure is around 12 per cent.

Social Democrat Mr Heil (SPD), said he intended to present legislation later in the year that would anchor a right to home working in law and allow employees to work from home full time or for one or two days a week.

Olaf Scholz (SPD) - the German Finance Minister - gave his support to the idea, telling Bild am Sonntag, “The past weeks have shown how much is possible in the home office - this is a real achievement that we should not just abandon.”

The German Employers’ Association, however, rejected it and told the Funke media group that the last thing the battered economy needed at this time was more rules.

Katrin Goering-Eckardt - parliamentary leader of the opposition Greens - was reportedly in support of a right to home working but pointed out that the idea would only work if the government made an additional guarantee of high-speed internet for all.

In a statement, Ms Goering-Eckardt said, “A home office or mobile working must always be voluntary and needs binding rules. Nobody should be forced to do it, and a home office should not lead to work becoming limitless.”