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Remote and Flexible Work Options

Learn about remote work policies and flexible work arrangements in Germany

Remote work

Germany's legal framework regarding remote work (mobile work) is still evolving. Currently, there's no single, comprehensive law governing remote work in Germany. However, existing regulations and court rulings do influence remote work practices.

  • The German Workplaces Ordinance (Arbeitsstättenverordnung - ArbStättV): This regulation outlines minimum health and safety standards for workplaces, including those partially used for work (e.g., home office). Employers have a duty to ensure a safe and ergonomic workspace for remote employees, though the extent of this obligation remains under discussion.
  • The Works Constitution Act (Betriebsverfassungsgesetz - BetrVG): This law grants employee co-determination rights in certain aspects of the workplace, potentially including remote work arrangements, if a works council exists within the organization.

Draft Mobile Work Act

The German government is currently considering a draft Mobile Work Act (Mobile-Arbeit-Gesetz) which, if passed, would:

  • Establish an "employee right of initiative" for mobile work, meaning employees with suitable tasks could request remote work arrangements from their employers. Employers would be obligated to seriously consider such requests and provide justification for any denials.
  • Clarify employer obligations regarding equipment provision and potential cost reimbursements associated with remote work.

Technological Infrastructure Requirements

For successful remote work implementation, employers in Germany should consider the following technological infrastructure:

  • Secure Remote Access: Providing secure remote access to company systems and data is crucial. This could involve Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and multi-factor authentication protocols.
  • Reliable Internet Connectivity: Employers should ensure employees have access to reliable and secure internet connections for uninterrupted work.
  • Communication and Collaboration Tools: Cloud-based communication and collaboration platforms enable effective communication between remote teams. These tools can include video conferencing software, instant messaging applications, and project management solutions.

Employer Responsibilities

Even in the absence of a comprehensive legal framework, employers in Germany have certain responsibilities towards remote workers:

  • Right to Disconnect: German labor laws and court rulings emphasize employees' right to disconnect from work outside of working hours. Employers should respect this right by avoiding unnecessary communication or work demands outside of agreed-upon work hours.
  • Working Time Act (Arbeitszeitgesetz - ArbZG): This law outlines maximum working hours and rest period requirements. Employers must ensure compliance with these regulations even in a remote work environment.

Potential Future Obligations (if Mobile Work Act is passed)

  • Equipment and Costs: The draft Mobile Work Act might require employers to provide equipment necessary for remote work or reimburse related costs.
  • Co-determination: If a works council exists within the company, employers might need to involve them in discussions and decisions regarding remote work arrangements, as outlined by the Works Constitution Act.

Flexible work arrangements

Flexible work arrangements come in various forms, each with its own unique characteristics and legal considerations.

Part-Time Work (Teilzeit)

Employees can agree to work a reduced number of hours per week compared to a standard full-time position. Part-time work is generally governed by the terms of the employment contract, which should outline working hours, pro-rated compensation based on full-time salary, and benefits eligibility. The German Social Security Code (Sozialgesetzbuch - SGB) dictates social security contributions for part-time workers.

Flexitime (Gleitzeit)

This arrangement allows employees some flexibility in scheduling their work hours within a set timeframe. For instance, an employee might work core hours in the office (e.g., 10:00 am - 4:00 pm) and have the flexibility to adjust their start and end times within predefined limits. The Working Time Act (Arbeitszeitgesetz - ArbZG) outlines minimum working hour requirements and overtime pay regulations, which remain applicable under flexitime arrangements.

Job Sharing (Jobsharing)

Two or more people can share the responsibilities of a single full-time position. Each job sharer would have a defined set of hours and responsibilities outlined in a shared employment contract. There are no specific legal regulations governing job sharing, but general contract law principles apply.

Equipment and Expense Reimbursements

There's no legal obligation for employers in Germany to provide equipment or reimburse expenses incurred by employees. However, some employers might offer these benefits as part of a flexible work agreement.


Employers may choose to provide laptops, headsets, or other necessary equipment for work. If so, the terms of equipment provision and employee responsibility for the equipment should be clearly outlined in a written agreement.


Reimbursement for expenses can be offered at the employer's discretion. A clear expense reimbursement policy outlining eligible expenses, claim procedures, and any applicable limits would be beneficial for both employers and employees.

Data protection and privacy

Germany's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a key legal framework that applies to all organizations processing the personal data of EU residents, including remote employees. The GDPR emphasizes the employer's accountability for implementing appropriate technical and organizational measures to safeguard employee data processed in a remote work setting.

Additional Regulations

Other important regulations include the German Telecommunications Act (Telekommunikationsgesetz - TKG), which governs data transmission and telecommunications, influencing secure remote access protocols for mobile work. The German Works Constitution Act (Betriebsverfassungsgesetz - BetrVG) may also come into play if a works council exists within the company, as it may have co-determination rights regarding data protection measures implemented for remote work arrangements.

Employer Obligations

Employers in Germany have a legal responsibility to protect employee data, including that of remote workers. Key obligations include data minimization, implementing appropriate data security measures, transparency and information, and identifying a legal basis for data processing under GDPR regulations.

Employee Rights

Even in a remote work environment, employees retain certain data protection rights under GDPR. These include the right to access their personal data held by the employer and request corrections if necessary, and under certain circumstances, the right to erasure (right to be forgotten).

Best Practices for Securing Data

Both employers and employees can take proactive steps to minimize data security risks in a remote work environment. These include providing secure remote access to company systems and data, encrypting sensitive data, educating remote employees on data security best practices, establishing clear data usage policies, encouraging regular backups, and establishing clear channels for employees to report any suspicious activity or potential data breaches.

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