Everything you need to know about Austria’s new working from home rules

Everything you need to know about Austria's new working from home rules
Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels
Austria on Wednesday announced a new set of working from home rules, including tax breaks and insurance coverage - while keeping it voluntary. Here's what you need to know.

The government wants more people to work from home, although it will not become compulsory during the pandemic. 

Now new tax benefits of up to €600 have been announced by Austrian Finance Minister Gernot Blümel.

The new measures will cost the government €150 million euros per year, and will apply until 2023. 

So what can I claim back from the tax man? 

Electricity and heating costs can be claimed back tax-free for up to €300 per year. 

Tax on mobile phones, laptops or internet WiFi can be claimed back, also up to €300 per year but only if these have been privately purchased and are not provided by the employer.

UPDATE: What do delivery delays mean for Austria's Covid-19 vaccination programme? 

If the reimbursement of costs for digital items is less than €300, the employer can also compensate for higher electricity or heating costs tax-free up to €300.

Purchases of office furniture, for example an office chair, can be made tax free with an upper limit of €300 per year, but only for people working exclusively from home. Hybrid office and home office workers can claim a lower amount, depending on the time spent in respective workplaces. 

This regulation should already apply to the employee tax assessment in 2020, however, the €300 limit applies to the years 2020 and 2021 together.

Insurance

The government has permanently extended insurance cover for accidents in the home office. The insurance also applies on the way to work or when carrying out a visit to the doctor or picking up children from school. 

In spite of the new tax relief, employees are also entitled to a commuter allowance while working from home. However, the home office allowance and the commuter allowance cannot be taken into account for the same day.

The commuter allowance will be calculated on a sliding scale depending on how many days in a month are spent commuting to the office. 

‘Legal certainty’

Agreements to work from home will be made in writing and can be revoked by both sides with one month's notice, according to the Ministry of Labor

Voluntary company agreements should also be possible. Labor inspectors will not have access to workers' homes. The working time will be calculated exactly as in the office.

Finance Minister Gernot Blümel said the new measures were aimed at creating legal certainty in times of the pandemic – as well as an incentive to reduce contacts as much as possible and to enable work from home.

The measures will be re-evaluated in 2023, and the regulations should remain in place after the pandemic. 

Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said working from home reduced movement of the population and lowered the risk of infection.

While many Austrians worked from home during the first lockdown, during the current lockdown fewer workers have done so. 

 


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