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The first anniversary of home office law in Austria

In the second episode of our Wolf Theiss Arbeitsrecht podcast, our experts Isabel Firneis and Julia Marboe discuss the topic of home office in Austria. It has been one year since the introduction of the legislative package on home office, and with that view our lawyers consider topics such as common practical issues, including the provision of digital work equipment, reimbursement of costs and termination options of the home office agreement.

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What qualifies as home office

The current regulation describes home office as when an employee regularly performs work from home. Work in public spaces, such as co-working spaces cannot be qualified as home office. In addition, regularly performing home office from another country creates a number of legal issues related to employment law, tax and social security law.

Home office agreement

A home office arrangement needs to be concluded by the parties in writing, whereby the handwritten signature is not required. In addition to individual home office agreements, the law provides for an option to conclude a works council agreement regarding the framework conditions for working from home (e.g. regarding the reimbursement of costs, etc.). Such a works council agreement, however, does not replace the individual home office agreement.

Equipment and reimbursement of costs

The Home Office law obliges an employer to provide the necessary digital work equipment to an employee. Alternatively, the employer must reimburse the employee for his or her reasonable and necessary costs for using his or her own equipment which can be done by agreeing on a lump sum payment. The law does not stipulate an exact amount.

However, the tax law provisions in regard to tax-free reimbursements of home office costs (max. 3 Euro per day and 300 Euro per year) might serve as a guideline. In addition to the law, the applicable CBA must be checked as some CBA’s provide for a broader cost reimbursement entitlement, which is not limited to digital work equipment.

Termination of home office agreement

According to the law, a home office agreement can be terminated for important reasons by adhering to a one month´s notice period. In addition, the parties can agree on a contractual termination clause, with even a shorter notice period and without giving any reasons for the termination. It is not completely clear if an immediate termination is possible in some events where the continuation of the home office agreement would be unreasonable.