Oct 20, 2020 - Economy

Germany pursues a right to telework

Illustration of a digital fist

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Germany wants to give people a legal right to work from home.

Why it matters: The proposal is a testament to how far the world has come amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the once-fringe idea of telecommuting finding a place in the law books.

The backdrop: Germany was ahead of other countries on telework even before the pandemic, the World Economic Forum notes. 40% of Germans wanted to work from home at least part-time, which was a much higher share than that in other wealthy countries.

With the new law, which is in the drafting process, Germany wants to legalize that right to work remotely and enact regulations to bring structure to this new and at-times nebulous way of working, Hubertus Heil, the country's labor minister, told the Financial Times. "

The question is how we can turn technological progress, new business models and higher productivity into progress not only for a few, but for many people," Heil told the FT. "How do we turn technological progress into social progress?"

  • The regulations Germany is considering include limiting work-from-home hours to address telework's disruption of work-life balance.
  • Critics of the law say it could chip away at workers' collective bargaining power or encourage companies to outsource jobs, per the FT.

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