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No right to terminate a home-office agreement

The Higher Labour Court Düsseldorf (Landesarbeitsgericht, LAG; docket number: 12 Sa 505/14) ruled on 10 September 2014 that an employer may not unilaterally terminate an agreement entitling an employee to work in his home-office without any reason, even where a mutual agreement gives the employer the right to terminate.

In the case at hand the parties had concluded an agreement according to which the employee was entitled to work at home for at least 40 % of his working time. It had been agreed that both parties had the right to terminate the home-office agreement within four weeks, in which case the employee was obliged to work at the company site which was situated approximately 70-90 kilometers away from his home-office.

After some attempts to find a mutual solution the employer terminated the agreement without the works council’s consent. The Higher Labour Court ruled that the employer had no right to terminate the home-office agreement and request the employee to work at the company site. In such a case requesting an employee to work at the company site is considered to be a relocation. Should the employer decide to relocate an employee, in principle, such decision must be reasonable and the employer is obliged to take into account the employee’s interests. The underlying contractual clause allowing such termination, however, did not take into account the employee’s interests at all. Therefore, the clause was null and void. Furthermore, the Higher Labour Court stated that the works council had not given its consent to this relocation; for this reason as well the employer had no right to request the employee to work at the company site.