Germany set to end work from home obligation, Merkel aide tells weekly

  • World
  • Wednesday, 16 Jun 2021

FILE PHOTO: Offices and residential buildings are illuminated as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues during an extended lockdown and a demand by the German government for more home office possibilities in Frankfurt, Germany, January 28, 2021. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany will not extend beyond the end of June a rule which forces companies to allow working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Germany has gradually lifted lockdown measures in the last six weeks as infections fell.

After first introducing a working from home obligation in January, the measure was anchored in "emergency brake" legislation that allows the government to impose lockdown measures if infections rise beyond certain thresholds.

As coronavirus infection numbers are sinking, the home office rule does not need to be extended on June 30, when the emergency law regulating the lockdown expires, Helge Braun, Merkel's chief of staff, told the WirtschaftsWoche weekly.

"The emergency brake will not be extended at this time because we have a favourable situation at the moment," Braun said.

It might have to be reimposed in the autumn, depending on the progress of vaccinations and the spread of new variants, he said.

Some officials had suggested extending the home office rule.

Labour Minister Hubertus Heil said in April he was working on legislation to give employees the right to work from home even when the coronavirus crisis is over.

At the height of the third wave of the pandemic in March, almost a third of employees in Germany were working from home at least some of the time, but that had fallen to 31% in May, according to the Ifo economic institute.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 1,455 to 3,717,625 on Wednesday, less than half the increase of a week ago. The death toll rose by 137 to 90,074.

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson, Editing by Riham Alkousaa and Timothy Heritage)

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