Home office for employees

Email from the President

Dear colleagues,

The email sent by the staff council today, Wednesday, on the subject of working from home contains assertions and claims which cannot go undisputed by the University management. The staff council’s criticism refers to the President’s Office circular email of 5 May. In that email I gave information on various current developments, including those for “home office” regulation.


In its current criticism, the staff council misapplies or misunderstands four important matters:

1. The paragraph on the subject of working from home now criticized by the staff council was mutually agreed with the head of the staff council. The implication that University management insisted on a particular wording here is not correct.

2. The home office provision announced on 5 May expressly opens up the option for flexitime employees to work for longer than their regular daily average of working hours, if necessary and in agreement with the person responsible. The University of Tübingen respects and values the efforts of many employees above and beyond their regular daily working hours as needed during the Coronavirus crisis.

3. Formal staff council participation in this provision was planned from the beginning. The email of 5 May indicated that this would be the case. The relevant wording was included in the text of the email at the personal request of the head of the staff council. The staff council’s suggestion that it was “surprised” by the announcement therefore rings hollow.

4. In its email, the staff council confuses the issues of home office and overtime with the indisputable additional burdens placed on teaching staff by having to take several thousand regular classes online. However, the requirements set out in the 5 May email on the issue of home office could not and cannot apply to teaching staff because the vast majority of this group of employees is not covered by the flexitime rules.

We do have “Telearbeit,” an agreement for part of weekly hours to be worked at home. But because we could not reach an agreement with the staff council regarding overtime for at-home-only work, the only rules which can be applied right now are the existing regulations for flexitime.

Finally, if I may make a personal comment: The Coronavirus crisis has led to considerable additional burdens on every part of society. Some of the heaviest burdens are falling on families with children, people with relatives in need of care, and those in high-risk groups. The state of Baden-Württemberg, as our employer, takes responsibility for its employees in an exemplary fashion - and is doing so more than ever in the Coronavirus pandemic. We, as members of the public service, also have a responsibility to our state in the Coronavirus pandemic. I wish to thank all of you as you live up to that responsibility in an exemplary fashion.

Sincerely yours,

Professor Dr. Bernd Engler