Germany considers opportunity for home office after pandemic

Labour Minister Hubertus Heil

With so many Germans working from home due to restrictions from the coronavirus, Labour Minister Hubertus Heil says he is pushing legislation that would codify a right to a home office. But business groups say they are not interested, dpa reported.

Heil told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag that he hoped to present the legislation towards the end of the year and that it would continue applying even after the coronavirus restrictions are lifted.  "Anyone who wants to work from home - and in cases where the company allows it - should be able to work in a home office, even after the corona pandemic is finished," he said.

He said the law, as he envisioned it, would allow people to completely shift to a home office or to split their time between home and a central office.

Initial data suggests that the number of people who work from home has jumped from 12% before the health crisis to around 25% now.

But the Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA) said Sunday it sees little to like in Heil's proposal, arguing that what German companies need is flexibility, not more government rules. "We need a moratorium on limitations, not further regulations that limit growth and flexibility," said Steffen Kampeter, the BDA's chief executive. That would mean a focus on mobile work, but only when it is possible and sensible. "Business interests and customer wishes need to play a central role," he said. "You can't keep the economy running just with home offices."

But the proposal did win some praise from Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who also belongs to Heil's centre-left Social Democrats, the minority party in the governing coalition. Katrin Goering-Eckardt, head of the Greens delegation in the Bundestag also praised the idea, saying all workers deserve what has until now been a "privilege" for some.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

Similar articles