Now that the draft for a mobile work statute has been on ice for a whole year, the old and new German Federal Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) wants to put the draft back on the agenda.
The option of working from home or on the road has been part of everyday working life for many employees since the beginning of the pandemic. In the past two years, employers have therefore had no choice but to address this issue. However, our Littler European Employer Survey has already shown that not all European companies want to offer these solutions on a permanent basis.
However, the German Federal Ministry of Labor sees a need to reflect the current reality of life in a statutory basis as well. A draft for the regulation of mobile work was presented for the first time as early as October 2020. This was last revised again in January 2021. Since then, however, the topic has been on ice. However, as the press reports, Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil is now planning to push ahead with the statutory regulation of mobile work again. He wants to create "modern rules for mobile working in Germany". This would include a claim to mobile work for employees. In principle, employers would then have to enable mobile working as long as there were no operational reasons against it. Further details on the current plans are not yet known.
However, the minister's statements are reminiscent of the first version of the draft: In this, the draft statute also formulated an entitlement to mobile work. This formulation in particular had led to differences of opinion within the governing coalition at the time. The latest draft, on the other hand, only provided for a right to discussion essentially according to the following procedure:
- Notification of employees' request to work on a mobile basis, including start date, duration, scope and distribution
- At least three months before start
- Request in text form
- Employers must discuss requests with the aim of reaching an agreement
- If no agreement is reached, employers must explain their decision not to accept the request and the reasons for it no later than two months after being informed of it
- If employers do not comply with this obligation to explain or discuss, the mobile work notified shall be deemed to be fixed for the duration notified, but for no longer than six months
- Renewed request after refusal only possible after 4 months
- Termination option in text form for both parties to the employment contract with a notice period of 3 months, at the earliest, however, at the end of the sixth calendar month since the start of the mobile work
It will now be particularly interesting to see whether the new German coalition will return to the controversial entitlement model and also be able to push it through parliament it. In particular, it would then be desirable to specify the appropriate opposing "operational reasons". For companies, this means further waiting for concrete signs from politicians.
Regardless of the legislative plans, many companies have already taken the initiative themselves, because flexible working models are an important factor in the competition for the best talent. Often, company regulations already provide for an entitlement to mobile working for a certain number of days per week or month, as well as financial contributions to the necessary equipment. Even without a statutory basis, it is crucial here to introduce an agreed set of rules. This is especially true if there is a works council in the company.
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