What is true now in schools, companies and at home? We provide answers for the next round of lockdown, which starts next Wednesday.
When can the children go back to school?
That is at the discretion of the countries. In any case, the wording in the resolution is not clear. The school closings should therefore “in principle” continue to apply until February 14th – alternatively, however, only “the mandatory presence is suspended”. So the children don’t have to show up at school, but if the parents want it, then they can. The resolution even emphasizes: “Closed schools are not without negative consequences.” The contradicting formulations are the result of a dispute between the Chancellor and individual country leaders. Angela Merkel preferred to keep everything. However, Baden-Württemberg promptly got out of the school closings: Primary schools and daycare centers should open as early as the beginning of February – “gradually” and “if the infection situation permits”. In principle, the other countries now also have at least the option of easing and opening up earlier.
As an employee, can I insist on a home office now?
No. Experts rate the ordinance, with which the Federal Ministry of Labor implemented the corona resolutions on Wednesday, as rather weak. “It only asks employers to offer an option to work from home,” says labor law expert Sven Lombard from the Simmons & Simmons law firm in Düsseldorf. However, this encouragement only applies to the companies; employees do not have the right to work from home. In addition, there is the restriction of not having to allow home office “if operational reasons speak against it”. However, this is at the discretion of the employer, so Lombard. If, for example, he fears that business secrets are endangered by working from home, he does not have to agree to switch to the home office. On the other hand, there is no obligation to invest in better IT and to provide tap-proof access or a good service laptop. However, individual countries are advancing with stronger regulations. Berlin is planning a home office requirement for everyone.
Can I sue if the employer refuses to work from home?
No, the courts have no jurisdiction. After all, the government has not created an enforceable right to work from home, it only urges companies to offer it if necessary. “At best, it is possible to contact the responsible occupational safety authority,” says Lombard. Good luck with that, after all, the authorities for their part are currently facing a tough challenge. “As part of corona prevention, the accessibility of the State Office for Occupational Safety, Health and Technical Safety in Berlin is currently severely restricted,” says Berlin, for example.
Do companies have to involve the works council in implementing the regulation?
Yes. “The co-determination obligation still applies where working hours, breaks and the like are affected,” says Lombard. This also applies to the formation of “small working groups” that are supposed to work at different times. A corresponding reorganization of the processes with the involvement of the works council until the regulation comes into force next Wednesday, Lombard considers to be “almost impossible”.
My job is easy to do from home, but I prefer to go to the office. Do I have to go to the home office now?
No, it’s just an offer.
Which rules now apply locally in the company?
Wherever presence is unavoidable and there are no large distances between employees, the boss has to provide masks. The time when any strips of fabric were sufficient in front of the mouth is over: The resolution expressly provides that “medical” masks are to be worn.
Which masks do I have to wear in public transport and in shops?
Also “medical” masks. The “everyday mask” is no longer sufficient here either. This also applies to visits to old people’s homes and nursing homes and to church services.
What is meant by “medical masks”?
The paper from the federal and state governments specifically names surgical masks or masks of the standards KN95, N95 or FFP2. A clarification can be found on the website of the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices. Surgical masks are therefore types II and IIR surgical masks. These are available from 50 cents per piece. KN95 is a Chinese standard for masks that filter the finest particles out of the air and thus really protect against viruses. FFP2 is the European counterpart to this. These types are available from two euros each.
Are there any new restrictions on private contacts?
No. A whole series of proposals that were up for discussion in advance were actually not up for debate between the heads of government. There are no curfews or other restrictions on private meetings. Therefore, the following also applies: The members of one household may each meet someone from another household. However, the governments renewed the appeal not to exhaust this rule and to meet as few people as possible.