Due to the Corona pandemic, home office has become a common practice in many areas. Apart from a short-term change in social security law during the pandemic, working from home has not been specifically regulated by law until now and has essentially been a matter of agreement between employer and employee. On February 15, 2021, the federal government submitted a draft package of home office measures to the National Council, which is intended to create a legal framework for working from home.
Individual labor law
The Employment Contract Adjustment Act (AVRAG) defines work in a home office. It exists if the work is performed "at the home" of the employee. The term "home" does not only refer to the employee's primary residence. The term also includes a secondary residence or the home of a close relative.
The requirement for working in a home office is a written agreement between the employer and the employee. Thus, there is no legal right of the employee to work in the home office and, conversely, the employer cannot unilaterally send the employee to the home office.
In principle, the employer shall provide the necessary digital work equipment - meaning IT hardware and data connection - for regular work in the home office. This can be deviated from if the employer reimburses the employee for the reasonable and necessary costs of the digital work equipment provided by the employee. This reimbursement of costs can be agreed as a flat fee.
The scope of the Employee Liability Act (DHG) is extended to include damage caused by relatives or pets to digital work equipment or saved work results. So if the pet dog chews up a cable, the employer will have to bear all or part of the damage.
Employer and employee may terminate the home office agreement for good cause by giving one month's notice to the last day of the month. An important reason shall be, for example, an operational requirement or a change in the living situation.
Collective labor law
The framework conditions for individual home office agreements can be defined in a works agreement. Conceivable contents of such a company agreement could be: company resources provided, reimbursement of costs for company resources provided by the employee and data protection. However, the works agreement cannot replace the individual contractual agreement on home office.
As for worklpaces in the company/office, the employer is also obliged to evaluate the home office workplace. However, the labor inspectorate may only enter private homes with the consent of the employee.
Social security law
The special accident insurance regulations introduced in the social security laws (ASVG and B-KUVG) as part of the 3rd COVID-19 Act will continue to apply permanently. Accidents in the home office will therefore remain occupational accidents in the future. This also includes commuting accidents in connection with the satisfaction of vital needs in the vicinity of the home. The route from the home office to childcare facilities, daycare, school and back to the home office are also covered by accident insurance.
The value of digital work equipment provided by the employer in the home office and a tax-free home office allowance do not form part of the assessment basis for social security contributions.
Under tax law, it is clarified that the provision of digital work equipment by the employer does not constitute taxable remuneration in kind. A lump sum of no more than EUR 3 per home office day, up to a maximum of EUR 300 per year, is tax-free. Employees can claim expenses for ergonomic furniture (such as swivel chairs, desks and lighting) up to EUR 300 per year as income-related expenses.