We would like to ensure that you are still receiving content that you find useful – please confirm that you would like to continue to receive ILO newsletters.
03 March 2021
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government commissioned the so-called 'social partners' (ie, the Chamber of Commerce representing employers and labour unions acting on behalf of employees) to negotiate and present a bill on working from home that Parliament can pass into law as the new standard on the matter.
The draft bill:
The new framework will cover various issues – from contractual provisions and co-determination by works councils to recommendations on occupational safety – and can be summarised as follows.
Working from home will still require a written agreement between employer and employee and, therefore, can be introduced only on mutual consent. Employees cannot unilaterally invoke a right to remote work and employers cannot direct an employee to work from home. Only in rare circumstances can employees' fiduciary duties and employers' duties of care justify a unilateral decision (eg, in the case of a mandatory quarantine of an employer's workplace, where the particular circumstances allow staff to continue their work from home).
Where staff are represented by an elected works council, the Labour Relations Act will be amended to include a new statutory authorisation to enter into a plant agreement establishing the conditions for remote work.
The legal framework on working time and rest times also applies when employees are working from home. Thus, remote employees must still maintain a report on their working time.
The labour inspectorate has no right to control compliance with work protection legislation where home offices are concerned and must not inspect private dwellings or residences. Consequently, employers will have to instruct employees on the requirements for proper workplace organisation. The government will issue guidelines to this effect.
Accidents at home will be covered under the statutory accident insurance and will be deemed a work accident for insurance coverage purposes.
Employers must provide employees with 'digital' work equipment (ie, a computer, a laptop, a mobile phone and data links) or adequately reimburse employees if they must use their own devices.
Reimbursement for additional expenses incurred by employees when they work from home is capped at €300 per year for tax purposes. Reimbursement of expenses above this amount is deemed an additional income and will thus be fully taxable and subject to national insurance contributions.
Employees' acquisition of ergonomic office equipment will be tax deductible up to €300 per year.
Working-from-home agreements can be terminated for cause by both parties observing a one-month notice period.
The draft bill will likely be passed into law soon, introducing a set of rules that is long overdue, although one that mostly mirrors the legal status quo.
For further information on this topic please contact Jakob Widner at Graf & Pitkowitz by telephone (+431 401 17 0) or email (email@example.com). The Graf & Pitkowitz website can be accessed at www.gpp.at.
The materials contained on this website are for general information purposes only and are subject to the disclaimer.
ILO is a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. In-house corporate counsel and other users of legal services, as well as law firm partners, qualify for a free subscription.