Telework: forms, benefits and risks

What is teleworking?

The term “telework” is to be understood as any activity based on information and communication technology that is carried out exclusively or temporarily at a workplace outside of the central operating facility. This workplace is connected to the central operating facility by electronic means of communication.

What types of telework are there?

There are different forms of teleworking. For example, it can be done in the employee's home (“home-based telework”) or on the go (“mobile telework”). Some employers deploy their employees with their customers, with all equipment that is used belonging to the employer (on-site teleworking). Telework can also be organized in such a way that teleworking positions are bundled in so-called telecenters.

Bei der heimbasierten Telearbeit können die Mitarbeiter ihre Arbeit entweder ausschließlich zu Hause oder in Form der »alternierenden Telearbeit« erbringen, indem sie zeitweise zu Hause, aber auch an ihrem Arbeitsplatz im business arbeiten. Die alternierende Telearbeit ist am meisten verbreitet. Sie berücksichtigt das Kommunikationsbedürfnis der Telearbeitnehmer und hilft deren soziale Isolation zu vermeiden.

Benefits of teleworking

Telework enables undisturbed work at home according to the personal rhythm of life and with free time management. This form of employment is particularly practical for women and men who look after their children at home (e.g. during parental leave). Telework can therefore lead to an integration of work and family.

In addition, teleworking saves time and money by reducing journeys between home and work. This aspect should be of particular interest to employees who otherwise have to cover a distance of 50 or more kilometers to their workplace every day and who are dependent on the use of their car.

Finally, teleworking improves employment opportunities in structurally weak regions and for disadvantaged workers such as B. Disabled.

Teleworking risks

The ability to independently organize one's working hours and working conditions at home can sometimes lead to unforeseen private events in particular affecting the work schedule and thus leading to stressful situations. Employees who look after their children at home at the same time often have to expect disruptions and concentration problems.

Due to the fact that the workplace is accessible around the clock, there is a risk of self-exploitation and neglect of health and safety measures. Furthermore, loneliness, isolation, loss of motivation and acceptance problems can threaten. In addition, questions of data security and liability in the event of damage by third parties in the domestic area may arise.

What is the legal status of teleworkers?

In principle, telework can be performed in different legal relationships:

· As an employment relationship

· As a home work relationship

· As an employee-like person

· As a self-employed person.

The legal status of a teleworker does not depend on the contractual structure, but on the actual circumstances in which the task is performed.

What should be considered when agreeing a teleworking position?

One of the most important prerequisites for agreeing a teleworking position is voluntariness on the part of the employee. If you refuse teleworking requested by your employer and then receive a notice to change, you can, with some prospect of success, sue the labor court. The works council also has a right of co-determination in the event of transfers and a right to be heard in the event of termination of changes.

If an agreement on teleworking is reached between the employer and the employee, this should also regulate a right of return for the teleworker to a company workplace.

When introducing teleworking, insist on a contractual agreement and a clear job description. In this way, possible disputes about the content of your teleworking relationship can be prevented

You should also work with your supervisor to define the work processes in the form of a job description. It is also advisable to set your working hours in a company or individual agreement. Make sure that you are given as much freedom as possible to organize your own time. The following points should be regulated in such a working time agreement:

A period of time in which the earliest start and the latest end of daily working hours must lie

A scheme what z. B. counts as overtime or night work.

For alternating teleworking, the office working days can be set with the corresponding working hours.

If there is a need in the company, fixed times can be agreed at which you can be reached by colleagues and customers.

Definition of creditable working hours, such as B. Travel times to operation, waiting or downtimes due to system malfunctions.

Possible access times for the computer network.

A time recording system in which you list your monthly remuneration-relevant working hours. This can e.g. B. in the form of a work diary, which must be presented to the respective supervisor at the end of the month.

Bezüglich der Entlohnung von Telearbeitnehmern bestehen keine Besonderheiten. Es gelten vielmehr die Vergütungsrege­lungen aus dem Tarif- und Arbeitsvertrag. Selbstverständlich haben Sie Anspruch auf Entgeltzahlung an Feiertagen und im Krankheitsfall sowie auf Urlaubsentgelt nach § 11 Bundesurlaubsgesetz. Ihr Anspruch auf Gratifikationen (z. B. Weihnachts- oder Urlaubsgeld) richtet sich nach tarif- oder indivi­dualvertraglichen Vereinbarungen oder nach einer bestehen­den company agreement.

Finally, the following points should be clarified in an agreement between the employer and the teleworker:

The provision, maintenance and use of work equipment, i.e. primarily the IT equipment at home, as well as the reimbursement of other running costs (e.g. rent for home work space, telephone, internet connection).

The use of work equipment for private purposes or a ban on use.

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