No return to mandatory home office

Bueroangestellte

If it were up to our Federal Minister of Labor, Mr. Heil, more employees should actually start working from home again in fall to protect themselves from an infection. However, this move has now been toned down after Heil received criticism from many quarters.

Last Wednesday, the federal cabinet passed a new Corona Protection Ordinance. After this employers are to examine in the context of a hygiene concept homeoffice and test offers for their employees only. This new regulation is to apply from 01.01.2022 to 07.04.2023.

An earlier draft of the regulation had still stated: “The employer shall offer employees to perform suitable activities in their home if there are no compelling operational reasons to the contrary.” 

In addition, an obligation to offer two tests per week was planned. This obligation was also abandoned. No obligation, but flexible action is the solution.

“The new regulation enables companies to flexibly adapt the measures to the incidence of infection. In this way, infections are prevented in the company and work and production losses are avoided,” Heil said Wednesday.

The appeal from employers to the government was heard: “Where work from home is possible, it will continue to be offered in the future. A push by the legislator is not needed for this,” said a statement from the employers’ association BDA.

Steffen Kampeter (BDA CEO) welcomed the changes: “It’s good that the rules have now been revised – better late than never,” he said in an interview with German Press Agency Employers and employees could effectively protect themselves from infection with caution and flexibility. For this, differentiated, situation-adapted measures are needed in companies, but not “government bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo.” In the fall and winter, for example, companies would use their tried-and-tested concepts for in-company infection protection.

There was criticism from the German Federation of Trade Unions: “Voluntary measures have demonstrably not worked well recently, few have worked from home – despite high infection rates. This is precisely why the mandatory offer proposed by Labor Minister Heil would have been the right way to manage the pandemic,” said board member Anja Piel. She called on employers to prevent employees from becoming infected on their way to work or in open-plan offices in fall and winter.

In March, the obligations for companies to offer tests and work at home had expired. At that time, the responsibility for taking appropriate measures was largely in the hands of employers. Then in May, the occupational health and safety provision for companies dropped out altogether. Now they want to reactivate it.

Reason: it is to be expected that the infection numbers will rise clearly in fall and winter. For this reason, appropriate protective measures should also be taken at work. Although the companies are to implement hygiene concepts again, they are fairly free in their design.

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* Source: Haufe

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