Germany Set to Make Work From Home a Legal Right for Workers

Germany Set to Make Work From Home a Legal Right for Workers
Germany’s lawmakers are drafting a law that will make it mandatory for employers to give their workers the option to work from anywhere.

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Remote work has gained so much traction in the past few months that Germany plans to pass a law that will make it a legal right for its workforce. According to the World Economic Forum, Germany’s lawmakers are currently drafting a law that will make it mandatory for employers to give their workers the option of working away from the office. This report comes at a time when many companies like Microsoft, Twitter, and Facebook are announcing their permanent work-from-home strategies in response to the Coronavirus.

A study conducted in 2019 by Germany’s labor ministry found that 40% of the respondents wanted to occasionally work from home. This number is quite high, considering that the survey was conducted pre-pandemic when working from home was not a compulsory health precaution. In fact, remote working in Germany was already so popular that this article by the DW suggests that talk of the mandatory remote work law began as early as April last year. Since then, fueled by the pandemic, the global approval rate of remote working has increased significantly, with 98% of the respondents of a recent survey saying they preferred working remotely than from the office.

Since the pandemic broke out, 25% of Germany’s workforce or 8 million people have been working remotely, compared to a measly 12% before the pandemic. According to the labor minister, the pandemic has offered a chance to understand the scale and feasibility of remote work. If passed, the law will allow employees to be able to request work-from-home privileges and have the option to switch to fully remote work or work from the office a few days of the week.

Employers are very welcoming of this bill, as was evidenced by the results of yet another study, this time conducted by PwC. The results revealed that 69% of executives foresee that two-thirds of their employees will work remotely at least one day of the week in the future. Remote working also has financial benefits, as it is estimated that employers save as much as $11,000 annually for every worker they let work from home at least half the year.

Germany is not alone in its quest to pass mandatory remote work laws. This report in June stated that the UK Health Secretary was considering legislation that would compel employers to offer the option of remote work to its employees. Spain, on the other hand, passed new regulations aiming to provide a legal framework that would help provide a set of rules that govern the practice of remote work.

This recognition of remote-work by governments not only as a contingency plan in response to a global health crisis but as a sustainable alternative to in-office work is a step in the right direction. Several publications have found that remote working leads to higher productivity, is better for job-fulfillment and generally improves the mental health of employees. This is why as of April this year, all of employees have been working from home and will continue to do so indefinitely. 

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