Home office regulation provides for regular rapid antigen tests

Berlin Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) wants to oblige employers to let employees work more from the home office. In addition, the precautions in the companies against the corona pandemic are to be strengthened. This is provided for in the Federal Ministry of Labor’s draft for a Corona occupational health and safety ordinance, which is available to the Handelsblatt. This will further tighten the Sars-CoV-2 occupational health and safety rule. The heads of government from the federal and state levels made a corresponding decision on Tuesday evening.

Accordingly, employers should be obliged to offer employees home office if the so-called seven-day incidence exceeds a threshold of 50. This applies to employees in office or comparable activities “if there are no compelling operational reasons to the contrary”.

Even before the talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the Prime Minister, Heil had announced that he would work on a corresponding ordinance in the event of an agreement. He wanted “more commitment” in the home office offer, said the minister.

Despite all efforts, the number of infections is still too high, according to the draft bill. “Since the possibilities for further contact restrictions and additional infection protection measures have largely been exhausted in many areas of life, additional and time-limited measures of occupational health and safety are indispensable as contributions to the health protection of employees”, it says in the explanation.

Top jobs of the day

Find the best jobs now and
be notified by email.

Strict distance rules apply where it is not possible to work from home. If several people use an office, at least ten square meters must be available for each. In companies with more than ten employees, employers are required to divide the workforce into the smallest possible work groups.

Where these regulations cannot be implemented, the employer must provide ventilation or partition walls to protect the employees. Eating together in canteens or break rooms is prohibited with a few exceptions.

If the distance rules or the requirements for room occupancy cannot be complied with, the employer must provide medical face masks and employees are obliged to wear them.

In corona hotspots with more than 200 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days, the workforce in companies with at least 50 employees who are regularly present should be subjected to a weekly rapid antigen test.

However, this only applies if the rules on minimum distance and space cannot be adhered to or the employees regularly have to use public transport for business reasons. The ordinance will initially be limited to March 15, as Chancellor Merkel said on Tuesday evening.

The more stringent regulations will incur additional costs for the companies. The Ministry of Labor estimates one-off wage costs of almost 2700 euros per location for the planning and preparation of the rapid tests. Personnel costs of EUR 2.32 are added for each test, in addition to the proportionate wage costs of the employee, who has to wait around 20 minutes for the result to be available.

The Federal Association of German Employers’ Associations (BDA) reacted with “amazement” to the plans. “Only a few days after the Federal President, the trade unions and employers made a resolute and joint appeal to companies and employees, politicians are proposing a kind of substitute action for home office bureaucracy, which is beyond doubt beyond the action of the social partners in terms of effectiveness” criticized the association.

The general manager of the employers’ association Gesamtmetall, Oliver Zander, accused Labor Minister Heil of wanting to introduce his right to work from home, with which he had politically failed, through the back door. “Bringing this in under the label of fighting pandemic gives the impression that the minister is using the pandemic for party political purposes,” said Zander.

This is particularly noteworthy as the unions have meanwhile also spoken out against being forced to work from home. For example, the head of the Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union (IG BCE), Michael Vassiliadis, emphasized on Monday that a state home office obligation was not feasible because too many exceptions would have to be formulated. “In the IG BCE sectors, we have worked out sustainable hygiene plans with the employers and have made maximum use of the home office,” explained Vassiliadis. The number of infections in operation is marginal, and the distance requirements in the large-scale systems can be easily observed.

Employment lawyers are also skeptical: “With the regulation, the government creates expectations among employees, but does not provide employers with a tool to implement home office legally,” says Michael Pils, partner at the Taylor Wessing law firm in Düsseldorf. It remains open, for example, what the compelling operational reasons are that make home office impossible. “Does the employer have to explain why it doesn’t work, or is it enough to say that the technical requirements are missing?”

In addition, not every employee has a decent job or an efficient internet connection at home. If he put forward these arguments, he could hardly be allowed to work from home. And finally, the regulation raises a number of legal follow-up questions, says lawyer Pils: “How can, for example, confidentiality or data protection be ensured, what about insurance cover in the home office if a proper risk assessment has not been carried out in relation to the home office?”

More: Interview with Minister of Labor Heil: “Not just any appeal, but a very clear announcement”

.

Hubertus Heil on the home office debate: “A very clear message”

Hubertus Heil

The Federal Minister of Labor says: “I am serious about proposals.”

(Photo: dpa)

Berlin Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) has urgently appealed to employers to allow home offices wherever possible. “This is not just any appeal, but a very clear message from the federal and state governments to the economy,” said the SPD politician in an interview with the Handelsblatt.

Many companies acted responsibly. But there are also those who arbitrarily refused to work on the move. “That is irresponsible,” said Heil.

The request to work from home if possible is also directed at the employees – even if he understands that many would like to see their colleagues again. But it is a question of responsibility, and the employees are also deceived.

Read on now

Get access to this and every other article in the

Web and in our app for 4 weeks free of charge.

Continue

Read on now

Get access to this and every other article in the

Web and in our app for 4 weeks free of charge.

Continue

.

What bosses and employees need to know

Office workers with mouth and nose protection

Employees and managers are only allowed into the office for a valid reason, as the federal and state governments decided on Tuesday.

(Photo: Unsplash)

Düsseldorf The lockdown in Germany is extended. The new measures are tough, admitted Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday evening. However, the continued high number of infections, the tense situation in hospitals and intensive care units and new mutations of the coronavirus have induced the federal and state governments to tighten the restrictions further:

These are the most important decisions:

  • In regions with more than 200 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in one week, people are only allowed to move 15 kilometers away from their place of residence for “good reasons”.

  • Schools and daycare centers will remain closed and will only gradually open again at the beginning of February. Until then, students must attend classes from home. For parents of daycare children there is the option of emergency care.

  • As in spring 2020, people are only allowed to meet one other person who does not live in the household.

Read on now

Get access to this and every other article in

Web and in our app for 4 weeks free of charge.

Continue

Read on now

Get access to this and every other article in

Web and in our app for 4 weeks free of charge.

Continue

.

The home office brings calm and strange smells

The author

Tillmann Prüfer is a member of the editor-in-chief of “Zeit-Magazin”.

So I’m staying at home. Much has been written about how one has come to appreciate one’s own home in the past few weeks. People who have always been on the road before and have been stressed about it all the time have finally been able to discover how beautiful the view from their own kitchen window is.

Of course, there are always disadvantages to working from home. For example, that the quality of the Internet connection at home decreases considerably when everyone else is also working from home and looking out the kitchen window. You finally come to the longed-for deceleration.

In the home office, you finally no longer have the problem that you have to be separated from your dear family members during working hours. So you can discuss with your boss whether you have to do a certain job – and at the same time with your own child whether they have to do a certain homework. Most of the time you do both.

The more time you spend in the home office, the less you understand why offices were built at some point. Whereby: I personally recently came up with another reason. In office buildings you don’t have to deal with the smell of decay that quickly. In my home office, yes.

I live in an old building – and in old buildings, you know, there are always unpleasant surprises. I felt the same when I heard a strange, sticky smell during a Zoom meeting. I had the feeling that the stench was coming from the wall. I thought of a rotting rat in a wall – or something. Or some animal, maybe a raccoon, that got lost in a cable duct.

Once you have noticed a bad smell, it is difficult to ignore it. Especially when you’re in lockdown. I considered the possibility that a sewer pipe was leaking. I called a plumber who told me to wait for wet stains to show up somewhere. There were none.

I considered buying scented trees. I have seen in psychological thrillers that murderers cover up the decay smells of the murdered. In the end I preferred to set up a smoker. The smoker had to work in piece.

Now, after two weeks, I smell it less. But I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve just got used to it – while the decay has already sucked into my clothes. Under these circumstances, I don’t even know whether I should wish for an end to the lockdown at all. When I leave the apartment people will think I’m an undead. I heard a cat is missing from neighbors in the house.

More: Smile or not – that’s a tricky question

.

These are the ten most expensive redundancy mistakes

Office workers leave the office

With a severance payment, the employer wants to reduce the risk that his employee will take the dismissal to the labor court.

(Photo: Imago)

Düsseldorf Separation talks are the order of the day. Nevertheless, many long-term employees and managers experience a termination situation for the first time. There is a great deal of ignorance among those affected, especially when it comes to severance pay. Quite a few employers deliberately skimp on clear information in order to avoid appropriate payments. “Many a misconception can cost dearly,” warns the Berlin labor law specialist Christoph Abeln those who are threatened with dismissal.

Misconception 1: Everyone is entitled to severance pay if they are given notice

Under German labor law there is basically no entitlement to severance pay. Rather, it is purely a matter of negotiation between the employer and the employee whom the boss wants to get rid of.

Important to know for every severance payment negotiation: By offering financial compensation, the employer wants to reduce the risk that his employee will take the dismissal to the labor court – and possibly get it right. The following applies: The more shaky the termination, the higher the severance payment that can be made.

However, there are four exceptions in which employees are actually entitled to severance pay:

Read on now

Get access to this and every other article in

Web and in our app for 4 weeks free of charge.

Continue

Read on now

Get access to this and every other article in

Web and in our app for 4 weeks free of charge.

Continue

.

What employers and employees should know

Test run for corona vaccination in Essen

60 hour weeks for medical staff.

(Photo: imago images / Jochen Tack)

Berlin The weakest first: The vaccinations against the corona virus are to begin with those over 80 years of age and with residents of care facilities. This is what the vaccination regulation provides, which Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) presented on Friday. That will take one to two months, only then will the offer be expanded.

It will be some time before it is the turn of citizens who do not belong to the elderly, to another risk group or to the medical staff. Nevertheless, a few answers to questions that can be important for employees and employers.

Can employers require their employees to be vaccinated?

Health Minister Spahn has repeatedly emphasized that vaccination is voluntary, there should not be a statutory vaccination requirement. This is why employers cannot usually ask their employees to provide information about the presence of a vaccination, says Johanna Wenckebach, Scientific Director of the Hugo Sinzheimer Institute for Labor and Social Law (HSI).

As a rule, they also have no right to request a vaccination, says the lawyer: “The interference with the physical integrity of employees associated with a vaccination is too serious for that.” However, employers should not exert any indirect pressure on employees. “You remain contractually obliged to work, even without a vaccination,” says Wenckebach.

However, pressure could well be built up elsewhere, warns Research Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU): The operators of restaurants or theaters, for example, are allowed to refuse access to guests without a vaccination or negative corona test, referring to their house rules.

What role could companies play in vaccination?

The German Society for Occupational Medicine and Environmental Medicine (DGAUM) and the Association of German Company and Company Doctors (VDBW) have offered the help of around 12,000 company doctors in Germany in a joint letter to governments and health politicians in the federal and state levels.

By using existing company medical structures, “the regional vaccination centers can be relieved and the vaccination coverage of employees can be accelerated considerably,” write association presidents Hans Drexler and Wolfgang Panter. Vaccination at the workplace can also increase willingness to vaccinate, as additional trips and waiting times are avoided.

First of all, the company doctors are asked where vaccination takes place first – in health care and in welfare. Should they be deployed there on the basis of the Infection Protection Act outside of their usual company medical deployment times, but liability and remuneration issues still need to be clarified, the associations write.

However, a more extensive deployment of the company doctors presupposes that the vaccine can also be easily transported and stored outside the vaccination centers in the future.

Can employees attend a vaccination appointment during working hours?

In labor law, the principle “without work, no wages” applies, says Sören Seidel, specialist lawyer for labor law in the Hamburg office of the international law firm Allen & Overy.
So if employees leave their job to be vaccinated against Sars-CoV-2, there is no entitlement to remuneration for this period.

The case could be different if a vaccination date that is within working hours is firmly allocated by the authority and cannot be postponed by the employee. Then the employee is allowed to attend the vaccination appointment during working hours and keep his right to remuneration – unless such a regulation according to Section 616 of the German Civil Code, which includes “temporary prevention”, is contractually excluded.

On the other hand, if employees can set the vaccination appointment themselves or postpone the appointment outside of working hours, the appointment must also be kept outside of working hours, says Seidel.

Something different is likely to apply to employees who have a higher risk of infection due to their work, for example nursing staff, explains the labor lawyer: “For this group of employees, vaccinations are part of the preventive occupational health care, which should basically take place during working hours.”

In general, it is in the employer’s interest to motivate employees to vaccinate as soon as possible, says Seidel. Against this background, practicable operational solutions for dealing with the interruption of working hours and the remuneration for attending vaccination appointments are to be expected and recommended.

Can nursing staff be forced to work overtime?

According to the Federal Ministry of Health, vaccination information must be provided by doctors. The vaccination itself can also be delegated to medical assistants. Nevertheless, personnel shortages could prevent large sections of the population from being vaccinated quickly.

In April, the Federal Ministry of Labor issued an ordinance that permitted deviations from the statutory working and rest times for certain systemically relevant occupational groups nationwide, such as nursing staff or employees in logistics and retail. This exception regulation expired at the end of July and one sees “currently no need for a new nationwide regulation”, said the Ministry of Labor on request.

Nonetheless, the states that are responsible for enforcing the Working Hours Act are reacting flexibly. Lower Saxony, for example, has issued a general decree that allows employees involved in fighting pandemics to work a 60-hour week. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, medical products such as vaccines, but also food and hygiene products, can be filled, packaged, delivered or placed on Sundays until January 18, 2021.

Individual district governments, such as the one in Arnsberg in North Rhine-Westphalia, also allow deviations from statutory working hours or Sunday rest for setting up vaccination centers.

More: From Biontech to Sputnik V: The anti-corona vaccines work so differently

.

EU Parliament approves emergency measures for no-deal Brexit

According to British Minister of State Michael Gove, EU fishing boats will initially no longer have access to British waters in the event of a no-deal Brexit. “Even under these circumstances we would try to reach a pragmatic agreement,” Gove said in a parliamentary committee on Thursday. “But if there is no deal by December 31st, European ships would lose access to our waters on January 1st“Said the minister.

In the future, Great Britain wants to decide for itself who can take how much fish from its waters and significantly increase the share of domestic industry. This should ideally be done in a step-by-step process, Gove emphasized. The access of non-British fishermen should then be decided on an annual basis.

That is difficult for the British side a large part of its own catch for the European market is determined. If tariffs are introduced, British fishermen could be left with their catch. “In an ideal world, we would want duty-free access for our fish and shellfish products to the European market,” said Gove.

Meanwhile, the head of the Irish Fishermen’s Organization (Killybegs Fishermen’s Organization), Seán O’Donoghue, warned against excluding the question of fishing rights from the negotiations. That is “equivalent to a no deal” for them Irish fishing industry which would lose 5,000 jobs as a result.

.

+++ Newsblog Brexit +++: Prime Minister Sturgeon wants rapid EU accession: “Scotland is coming home”

According to British Minister of State Michael Gove, EU fishing boats will initially no longer have access to British waters in the event of a no-deal Brexit. “Even under these circumstances we would try to reach a pragmatic agreement,” Gove said in a parliamentary committee on Thursday. “But if there is no deal by December 31st, European ships would lose access to our waters on January 1st“Said the minister.

In the future, Great Britain wants to decide for itself who can take how much fish from its waters and significantly increase the share of domestic industry. This should ideally be done in a step-by-step process, Gove emphasized. The access of non-British fishermen should then be decided on an annual basis.

That is difficult for the British side a large part of its own catch for the European market is determined. If tariffs are introduced, British fishermen could be left with their catch. “In an ideal world, we would want duty-free access for our fish and shellfish products to the European market,” said Gove.

Meanwhile, the head of the Irish Fishermen’s Organization (Killybegs Fishermen’s Organization), Seán O’Donoghue, warned against excluding the question of fishing rights from the negotiations. That is “equivalent to a no deal” for them Irish fishing industry which would lose 5,000 jobs as a result.

.

Scotland’s head of government wants swift EU accession – Sunday is the final deadline for the Brexit agreement

According to British Minister of State Michael Gove, EU fishing boats will initially no longer have access to British waters in the event of a no-deal Brexit. “Even under these circumstances we would try to reach a pragmatic agreement,” Gove said in a parliamentary committee on Thursday. “But if there is no deal by December 31st, European ships would lose access to our waters on January 1st“Said the minister.

In the future, Great Britain wants to decide for itself who can take how much fish from its waters and significantly increase the share of domestic industry. This should ideally be done in a step-by-step process, Gove emphasized. The access of non-British fishermen should then be decided on an annual basis.

That is difficult for the British side a large part of its own catch for the European market is determined. If tariffs are introduced, British fishermen could be left with their catch. “In an ideal world, we would want duty-free access for our fish and shellfish products to the European market,” said Gove.

Meanwhile, the head of the Irish Fishermen’s Organization (Killybegs Fishermen’s Organization), Seán O’Donoghue, warned against excluding the question of fishing rights from the negotiations. That is “equivalent to a no deal” for them Irish fishing industry which would lose 5,000 jobs as a result.

.

+++ Newsblog Brexit +++: Johnson meets EU Commission chief von der Leyen today – Great Britain lifts punitive tariffs on US products

The British Prime Minister and the CDU politician want to save the deadlocked negotiations over dinner. Meanwhile, London signs a trade pact with Kenya. The news blog. .