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Mobile work from abroad: what to watch out for


Open your laptop with a view of the sea and enjoy the sun while your colleagues hang out in the German winter: Sounds tempting? What to watch out for when working on the move from abroad.

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Many employees want to work more independently - also abroad

Photo: Lumina / Stocksy United

Lukas von Zittwitz, 28, did not want to experience such a December again.

The team leader of a communications agency said last winter was "lonely" and "dreary".

He led his team of seven remotely from his own four walls.

His girlfriend Amaya was out of town because of her master's degree at the Copenhagen Business School and in Germany the

Lockdown Light

had started

in November 2020

, which was not supposed to end until May of this year.

In short: von Zittwitz was doing badly.

And it was clear to him: He doesn't want to go through that again.

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Lukas von Zittwitz

Photo: Robert Lehmann / Lichtbilder Berlin

He and his partner asked themselves the question that almost everyone who regularly works mobile, is independent and has the opportunity to do so, asked themselves the question: If I can do my things from anywhere, why not just from where it is much warmer anyway and is more beautiful?

Why not from Italy, Spain, Dubai, Montenegro or South Africa?

Flexible working is becoming more crucial for employees

If you scroll through networks like LinkedIn or Xing, it quickly becomes clear that more and more people seem to be putting this pious wish into practice.

Often they are self-employed: coaches, advertisers, digital workers.

Some of them, such as the entrepreneur Celine Flores Willers, work with their team for a week from a finca in Italy and call it workation, a mixture of vacation and work;

others post photos of balconies in Spain or Portugal.

The message is similar: Look how good I am.

"If you want to work from somewhere else, then do it now."

Lukas von Zittwitz

A LinkedIn report among the more than 700 million members of the network worldwide shows what has become the most important thing among employees during the pandemic.

The top three are: The opportunity to advance in the company (23 percent), a healthy work-life balance (21 percent) and flexible work models (7 percent).

In a recent survey by the software provider Awork and the market research institute Appinio with 1044 participants from Germany, 65 percent of those questioned stated that it was "very important" for them to be able to choose their place of work flexibly.

Germany is lagging behind when it comes to statutory home office regulations

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Labor lawyer Wißler

Photo: Pusch Wahlig Workplace Law

Eva Wißler, 48, is a specialist lawyer for labor law in Frankfurt am Main. She also notices that the desire to spend the winter in a warm place is growing - not only among the self-employed. In Germany, unlike in France or the Netherlands, there is still no legal right to work from home, "but many companies are currently working on in-house solutions," says Wißler. And the new coalition agreement not only provides for mobile working to be opened up, it should also be easier to work on the go across the EU. "A lot will happen in this area in the future," estimates the lawyer.

In view of this, she says, a compact overview of the most important regulations for mobile working in every country in the world remains a dream that cannot be easily fulfilled.

Because the details depend on which country you want to go to.

If you want to go to a third country, you have to deal with a lot of bureaucracy

If you want to work temporarily from one of the 28 EU member states, the so-called A1 certificate ensures that you remain socially insured in your home country during a business trip abroad and do not have to pay your contributions in two countries.

"It's not that easy in the EU - it gets even more complicated in a third country."

Aziza Yakhloufi, specialist lawyer for labor law

The so-called 183-day rule applies as the basis for the tax. It states that employees are still subject to tax in Germany as long as they work in another country for less than 183 days and receive their wages from Germany - and not from a permanent establishment in the country of travel. From the 184th day onwards, taxes may also have to be paid in the travel destination. “Many countries have individual double taxation agreements. Here you should definitely find out about the tax advisor in order to know in advance where you are. Because when it comes to tax issues, there is no general statement as to whether individual taxation abroad is good or bad, ”advises Wißler. In any case, it is recommended that everything is coordinated closely with the employer.Everyone must obtain prior consent for temporary mobile work from abroad.

In general, according to the lawyer, the more uniform structures and the free movement of workers within the European Union make it easier to winter in other EU countries.

Nevertheless: "It's not that easy in the EU - it gets even more complicated in a third country," says the Frankfurt labor lawyer Aziza Yakhloufi.

Each country has to be checked individually.

"We all only live once - and I trust Lukas."

Zittwitz 'boss, Thomas Rosenwald

Lukas von Zittwitz and his girlfriend Amaya opted for the more complicated variant: Egypt, Cairo, outside the EU. This is where von Zittwitz's friend starts her semester abroad at American University in January - and her boyfriend comes with her. For three months. “If you want to work from somewhere else, you should do it now. I also see this as a great opportunity to gain new experience, «says von Zittwitz.

When he told his boss, Thomas Rosenwald, about the idea a month ago, he initially agreed, despite many question marks. He still had some remaining doubts, even if Rosenwald's 30-strong agency has been working almost completely remotely since Corona. »Lukas also managed his team superbly from home. Nevertheless, once things work, you want to change as little as possible, «says Rosenwald. Nevertheless, he wants to give his employee the chance. "We all only live once - and I trust Lukas". The home office from abroad is a premiere in Rosenwald's agency. “Lukas' customers are mostly abroad anyway. As long as the business risk is clear and everything is in order in terms of labor law, he gets the green light, ”says Rosenwald.

And here's the crux: German labor law is more inflexible than bosses like that.

There is still a lot to come for von Zittwitz and Rosenwald, knows labor lawyer Wißler.

For the employer, there is even a greater risk lurking here, she says.

If something should happen to von Zittwitz, the employer might have to bear the treatment costs, and one might also have to think about setting up a branch in order to reduce the risks, says Wißler.

Germany has no social security agreement with Egypt.

In order for the German social security law to apply to him, von Zittwitz would have to be officially posted.

"We are currently examining whether this is a possibility," says Rosenwald.

He was already with his tax advisor.

Without legal support, this can hardly be done, says labor lawyer Wißler.

Lukas von Zittwitz and his girlfriend Amaya want to stick to their plans despite the increasing number of infections.

His team of seven responded positively to the plans, now other challenges await: “We are just about to find an apartment.

800, 900 euros rent a month, we didn't expect that, «says von Zittwitz.

They have not yet booked flight tickets, he says.

Now he is still waiting for the final go from the health insurance company, which has to approve a possible posting.

One can only hope that it will not be a winter like Lukas von Zittwitz no longer wanted to experience it.

Source: spiegel

All business articles on 2021-12-05

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