Schalast | Mobile Office

Mobile, networked work, decoupled from the company's headquarters, is already a reality in many industries. This form of work has now received a further boost from the pandemic-related need to give employees the opportunity to work outside the company. What do you have to consider from a legal point of view?

Mobile Office can increase employees’ motivation and job satisfaction and lead to a better work-life balance. It is therefore also a tool for employers to increase their attractiveness for applicants and retain top performers.

Introducing Mobile Office requires not only practical implementation through secure IT equipment but also a balanced legal implementation. This is usually done through individual agreements with the respective employees and/or collective agreements with the works council, if any. One challenge for employers is that enabling Mobile Office does not relieve them of their responsibility for occupational safety. They also remain responsible for complying with data protection and the Working Hours Act. Finally, trade secret protection should not be neglected bearing in mind that an employee can use his remote entry to gain access to a large number of employer's data at any time and from any location. Respective Mobile Office regulations should therefore take into account the following areas in particular:

Right/entitlement to introducing and terminating Mobile Office: Who can introduce and terminate Mobile Office when and under what conditions?

Work protection: Assessing Mobile Office hazards, defining and instructing in necessary safety and health protection measures.

Working hours: Complying with Working Hours Act requirements also in the Mobile Office.

Data and trade secret protection: Minimizing the increased risk of data protection breaches and disclosure of business secrets through access to the employer's databases at any time and from any location (e.g. minimizing access to data really required for the job; encrypting the systems; more secure data transfer via VPN access, backups, password protection, etc.).

At the moment there is a draft bill for a law on mobile work ("Mobile Work Act - MAG"), which could provide a little more legal security for the Mobile Office. The much discussed right to home office or mobile office is not included, but only a "duty to discuss," i.e. if an employee applies for Mobile Office, the employer must discuss this with him, but he does not have to grant the application. It is not yet clear whether the draft law will actually be implemented in this form. We will inform you about this in a separate article.