Despite facing reticence within German Chancellor Angela’s Merkel coalition, Labour Minister Hubertus Heil of the center-left SPD over the weekend reiterated his intention to submit a draft law to regulate working from home.
“Nobody should be forced to be available for the employer around the clock — neither at home, not the [normal workplace] office,” Heil told the Hannover-based newspaper chain Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND).
The temporal boundary between paid hours worked and private life must not be eroded, he insisted, acknowledging that some industrial jobs, like those of bakers, would still require attendance on factory floors.
In June, he had told Berlin’s Tagesspiegel newspaper: “I don’t want to force anybody into working-from-home,” adding, however, “we need clear rules.”
Prior to the global coronavirus crisis, 11% of Germany’s 42-million workforce carried out their duties regularly or occasionally from home, Germany’s statistics bureau noted in 2017, reflecting employers’ erstwhile insistence that staff commute to work.
While a physical presence has prevailed in manufacturing, so-called “home office” has boomed in other crisis-hit sectors — thanks to the internet — and will remain, found the Mannheim-based ZEW economic research institute last month.
Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands already had such labour laws.
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