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A German right to work from home in your pajamas?

January 5, 2019

Around 40 percent of Germans want to be able to work occasionally from home. German lawmakers want to make it mandatory for employers to offer workers the option of a home office.

Home office stock photo
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/C. Klose

Germany's Labor Ministry wants to require employers to allow staff to work from home, Ministry Secretary Björn Böhning said in an interview with Der Spiegel.

According to the German news magazine, Böhning is planning an initiative compelling German companies to either allow their employees to work from home or justify why it is not possible.

Read more: Germany's 2018 unemployment hits record yearly low

"Digitalization is changing power relations. We must ensure that workers benefit from those changes," Böhning told the magazine.

Around 40 percent of Germans want to work from a home office at least sometimes, according to a study conducted by the Labor Ministry.

'Sporadic' home office use

A 2016 study conducted by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) found that 39 percent of German employers allow their workers to work from home — up from 30 percent in 2012. However, workers only used the home-office opportunity "sporadically," with many being drawn back to the office.

Many employers that did not provide workers with the opportunity to work from home cited internal communication as their rationale for requiring employees be in the office, according to the study. IT security and data protection were among some of the other concerns.

Several studies have also found that people who work from home tend to work longer and have more difficulties switching off after a day's work. Home-office workers have also been shown to be more productive and more satisfied with their jobs.

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