From Wednesday, November 24, Germany has more stringent workplace regulations. This is one of the measures taken recently to combat the coronavirus. Only vaccinated people, convalescents or people with an up-to-date coronavirus test will have access to the workplace. These laws mean significant changes for employers and employees.
Employees will only be allowed to enter the facility if they provide evidence of vaccination, recovery, or a recent COVID-19 test. The Germans call this model “3G” (the name comes from the first letters of the words: “geimpft” – vaccinated, “genesen” – healed and “getestet” – tested).
Unvaccinated people who cannot work from home must provide their employer with an up-to-date rapid antigen test (or a PCR test not older than 48 hours) on a daily basis. It is also possible to carry out the antigen test yourself on site, but under supervision.
Employers are responsible for checking evidence before accessing the workplace. If the employer once documents the possession of a certificate of passing COVID-19 or vaccination, the employee may already be released from daily checks. Employers should also offer free tests at least twice a week.
The new regulations are a great challenge for companies, says Steffen Kampeter from the BDA employers’ organization. But proof of status rules fill a legal vacuum and cut red tape.
The German government’s commissioner for personal data protection, Ulrich Kelber, supports the “3G” principle in the workplace, but criticizes its implementation. – In most cases, it would be enough to allow employers to control. Instead, companies are required to carry out permanent, comprehensive inspections, under penalty of a fine.
The guidelines could be clearer, says Stefan Brink, data protection officer for the federal state of Baden-Württemberg. Much ambiguity remains, for example whether the employer has to check all employees daily or whether random checks are sufficient. It is also not fully clear whether visual checks are sufficient, whether lists need to be compiled or whether it is necessary to compare the data with the ID card.
Employers also complain about the implementation date. “It is difficult to introduce large-scale controls in a few days, for example for shift workers in production,” says Kai Beckmann, president of the German Chemical Employers’ Association. – We also want to prevent queues at the entrance to the plant that could encourage infections. At the same time, all positions in a given shift must be filled.
The pharmaceutical concern Merck, of which Beckmann is a board member, will have its own application for the control of certificates. Meanwhile, the BASF company will carry out random checks until the beginning of December.
“3G” controls in the workplace become even more complex when they take place outside the office or factory – in the trade, for example. In many – usually small – companies, the control effort should be low, says Hans Peter Wollseifer of the German Craft Confederation (ZDH).
But in the case of companies dealing, for example, with cleaning buildings or construction, where most employees go directly to e.g. construction sites and at different locations, checks will be extremely difficult. That is why many in the cleaning and construction industry support the “2G” model (access for convalescents and vaccinated) and, if necessary, mandatory vaccinations.
Employees bear the consequences for violating the regulations. Unvaccinated people who do not bring a valid test and do not wish to undergo an on-site test are not allowed to enter the company premises. – The employer does not have to pay the salary in this case – explains the labor law expert Gunnar Roloff.
The president of the metal industry employers’ association, Stefan Wolf, told TV station Bild Live that if an employee objects to a covid certificate and does so for an extended period of time, he no longer offers his services under the contract. The employer can therefore terminate the contract without notice.
In addition, from Wednesday, November 24, the obligation to work remotely also comes into force. The employer must allow you to work from home where it is possible due to the activities performed, contact with clients etc. In turn, employees must accept such an offer if there are no obstacles on their part.
(DPA / home), Polish Editorial Board of Deutsche Welle