Mandatory presence in times of digitisation? The DGB demands a right to a home office, but with strict rules. So that there could also be an end of workday at home.
The world of work is becoming more and more flexible, yet many employers still insist on compulsory attendance, i.e. permanent presence in the office. On Labour Day on 1 May, the German Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB) therefore called for a legal entitlement to a home office. Annelie Buntenbach, member of the DGB executive board, told the newspapers of the Funke Media Group that every employee should have a right to be able to work from home and on the move – at least in jobs where this is basically possible.
The union’s demand is new – so far the unions have been rather reluctant to expand home-office regulations. They fear that employers could convert more jobs into home jobs in order to save costs. For as nice as working from home may sound, from the unions’ point of view employees often work there under precarious conditions: Little connection to the company, hardly anyone who monitors whether protection regulations are observed, and a strong dissolution of boundaries between work and private life. That is why Buntenbach also demanded that there should be strict regulations to prevent the increasing dissociation of working hours. Homeoffice must “remain voluntary in any case”. In other words: where possible, employees should be able to rely on their legal claim – but they must not be obliged to do so by their employer.

Mobile working time should also be covered
Buntenbach explained her initiative with the wish of many dependent employees to be allowed to work more flexibly in order to be able to better reconcile family and career. She therefore welcomed the fact that the CDU/CSU and SPD had agreed in the coalition agreement to create a new legal framework for so-called mobile working. In any case, mobile working hours must be recorded and remunerated.

In fact, this is often not the case today: many employers also want more flexibility, especially with regard to working hours. That’s why many companies offer their employees home offices – but usually in conjunction with trusted working hours. In other words, working hours are not officially recorded and overtime is usually regarded as part of the salary. This form of free and flexible working often means that employees work more than the contractually agreed working hours. After all, they do not want to abuse the trust of their employers.
For the DGB labour market expert, it is therefore imperative that mobile working always goes hand in hand with a clear regulation of working hours. Employees should have a right to end their work “so that there is also an end of workday for mobile work”.