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During the Covid-19 pandemic period, home office work, due to frequent lockdowns, proved to be a key resource for companies, both in Germany and around the world. This practice remained very common even after the end of the pandemic. Although the requirement for employers to offer remote work will be introduced only in exceptional cases, some home office laws will change in 2023.

Differences between Telearbeit and Mobiles Arbeiten

The term home office has now entered our everyday lives, but in Germany the law distinguishes between two different types: telearbeit and Mobiles Arbeiten.

  • Telearbeit is the term for who is working continuously at a computer station located outside the company. Often the location where it takes place is in the employee’s home. These workstations generally have to meet the requirements of the company, with which the employers also agree about the working hours. While it is “alternierender Telearbeit” if one alternates between working at home and working from home.
  • Mobiles Arbeiten is that work activity which, on the other hand, does not take place at a fixed location. This can happen when employees also work on the train, during business trips to hotels, or at the place where appointments with clients take place.
The standards applied in the Home office

Data protection and security must also be ensured at all times in the home office, regardless of how the workplace is set up. Employers can agree with their employees to use private devices for work from home. In addition, even from home, as far as possible, it is important to record working time. If this is not possible, the employer may ask the employee to report at the beginning and end of the workday to register.

Home office requirement

According to the law, employers cannot order employees to work from home without a valid reason. However, those who prefer or need it can work in the home office by negotiating an individual agreement with their boss. This can be included directly in the employment contract, or the employers can sign a separate agreement. Companies can also have employees work from home for precautionary safety reasons. Of course, it is not legal to have employees work from home because of the gas crisis and thus to save on the company’s energy costs.

Changes in the flat rate for the home office

In 2023, with the importance of the home office now established, there will be changes in its regulation. The German federal government has increased the flat rate for home office employees to receive relief on their year-end tax return. In fact, before 2023, employees could claim 5 euros per day of home office for up to 120 days (so 600 euros in total) on their tax returns. Instead, under the new regulations, up to 6 euros for a maximum of 210 days, meaning that is possible to claim up to 1260 euros. It is also possible to have a reduction for the costs for work equipment. Employees will be able to claim their income-related expenses on their tax returns beyond 2022 as a lump sum of 1,230 euros without supporting documents.

The Sparer-Pauschbetrag

The lump-sum amount for “savers” (Sparer-Pauschbetrag) will increase from 801 to 1,000 euros per year for singles and from 1,602 to 2,000 euros for married couples and civil partners starting in 2023. For single-parent families, the amount of tax relief will increase by 252 euros to 4,260 euros. The Sparer-Pauschbetrag covers income-related expenses, which may include:

  • Housing costs (Depotgebühren),
  • Financing costs (Finanzierungskosten),
  • Capital management (Vermögensverwaltungs),
  • Consulting fees (Beratungsgebühren).
Home office requirements.

One very important change is the fact that this flat rate applies even if a home office is not available. This is especially crucial for those who work in very small apartments, because this way they will not have to have a dedicated home office, but even just the location on the kitchen table will be sufficient to qualify for tax deductions.

Home office and travel

If the worker travels to his place of work on an additional day, he cannot have the daily allowance of 6 euros, but he can have a reduction only for the travel expenses with the distance. There are exceptional cases in which both the travel allowance and the daily allowance may be deducted, that is, when the employee has “no other place of work” available for business and professional activity. For example, teachers, whose center of activity is in the school, do not have an office where they can prepare lessons in the same building.