People - 30.03.2016 - 00:00 

Rights and questions relating to working from home

Many companies allow their employees to work from home. But what are the rights and obligations of employees and employers? In his doctoral thesis, Pascal Domenig explored home office work from a legal perspective.

31 March 2016. Many companies give their employees the opportunity to work from home. Yet there are still no legal guidelines governing this form of working. Neither has the jurisdiction paid any particular attention to this flexible way of working so far. Pascal Domenig explored these issues in his doctoral thesis "Home-Office-Arbeit als besondere Erscheinungsform im Einzelarbeitsverhältnis".

Who is liable in the event of an accident?

With several years' professional experience as a lawyer and legal counsel, Domenig opted to produce his doctoral thesis on the topic of home offices. Who bears the costs when an employee works from home? Who is liable if an accident occurs while an employee is working from home? The employee, or the employer? The liability situation is different compared to working on the employer’s premises. At home, the employee carries out their professional activities in an environment that is primarily designed for personal use. "My thesis is the first to provide comprehensive answers to these and other questions relating to home office work," says Domenig.

Disruptions when working from home

As well as costs and liability, Domenig addressed the issue of disruptions. "If an employee working from home suffers a power cut, the employer is liable as long as the employee was not at fault," says Domenig. The same applies if the internet connection goes down. This is because, the employer is responsible for ensuring that the employee can complete their work from home. Although the employee is often responsible for setting up the required infrastructure, this in no way extends the scope of their legal responsibility. In fact, this is simply how the employer chooses to run their business.

Doctoral thesis on legal matters relating to home offices

Matters become slightly more complicated when it comes to rules regarding cross-border workers. If the employee is resident in an EU or EFTA country, it is essential to record how many hours are spent working from home. In certain circumstances this may lead to a liability for social security tax in the employee's country of residence. "Provisions for home office work must therefore be stipulated in a contract," says Domenig, who summarised these findings in his doctoral thesis. This guide for businesses and employees not only clarifies legal issues relating working from home, it also includes a checklist, a sample employment contract and a home office policy.

Discover our special topics