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A vaccine against Sars-CoV-2 (the “Corona virus”) will hopefully be available soon. The German labor law requirements regarding a vaccination for employees and a possible obligation to vaccinate are already largely clear.

Do employers have to offer the vaccination (free of charge)?

Employees cannot require their employer to carry out or pay for corona vaccinations. It is solely up to the employer to decide which concrete protective measures the employer wishes to undertake. However, it is often also in the employer’s interest for employees to be vaccinated. If the employer offers a (free) vaccination, for example through the company doctor, this is a benefit that must be offered to all employees in principle, taking into account the principle of equality. Limiting the offer to only a few groups of employees will only be permissible in exceptional cases, for example if one group of employees is exposed to greater risks of infection than other groups. It would also be conceivable, for example, to grant “vaccination premiums/incentives” for a voluntary vaccination, the distribution principles of which are subject to the co-determination of the works council. Between 1 March and 31 December 2020, such “Corona special payments” are tax- and social security-free up to an amount of € 1,500.00.

Continue Reading Corona-Vaccination for Employees in Germany: Who Bears the Costs and is it Mandatory to be Vaccinated?

After several weeks of quasi-lockdown in Germany and immense public pressure to lift limitations imposed by COVID-19, more and more companies are starting to resume their activities. For some, this means increasing the number of employees who can again come in and work from a company office, rather than from their homes. For others, it

In early April, the Robert Koch Institute, which is a Federal Institute on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Health, released a COVID-19-App (the “App”). The purpose of the App is to help the Government understand the spread of the virus geographically based on the likelihood of COVID-19 symptoms experienced by App users, and to better estimate the possible number of undetected COVID-19 infections.

A detailed Q&A was made available to users[1]. Interestingly, the App is called “Corona Data Donation App” to emphasize that data is given freely by users.

Continue Reading COVID-19-App Released in Germany

The current situation imposes many challenges on employers and employees alike. It also poses new questions on the co-operation process between employer and works council, and the latter’s co-determination. While nobody is questioning that the works council’s co-determination rights continue to apply, employers are often found wondering how best to consult the works council when

More than half a million businesses in Germany have implemented short-time work (Kurzarbeit). The temporary reduction of the regular working time allows companies to reduce their personnel costs while at the same time maintaining their workforce and avoiding layoffs. The gap in remuneration that the employees suffer is partially compensated by the Federal

Most of German businesses are part of the so called “German Mittelstand”, i.e. qualify as privately and family owned small or medium sized enterprises. To protect these enterprises from the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the German Federal Government has already established several measurements, in particular such to provide companies with liquidity. In this context, the German Federal Government, together with KfW, a German state-owned development bank, established special programs intended to provide companies with easier access to loans for investments, operating equipment, etc. by assuming up to 90% of the risk for small and medium sized enterprises. However, only a few weeks into these programs, many enterprises complained that their house banks were unable or unwilling to take the remaining risk.

Continue Reading Further Protection Measures for the German Mittelstand

The fight against the COVID-19 pandemic lead to the deployment of unprecedented responses by states and organizations; from “data against corona” initiatives (i.e., use of “anonymized” and “aggregated” mobile data as part of monitoring the success of in-shelter rules) to employers around the globe eager to protect their workforces and launching corona-investigations (inquiring about personal travels, imposing self-quarantine measures, etc.).

Even more in stretched times, attention shall be paid to the balancing of those initiatives against the fundamental right to privacy of individuals. In this context, many national data protection authorities in the European Union and the United Kingdom issued guidelines on the processing of personal data as part of the COVID-19 crisis in an effort to define what is possible and what is not.

We summarize below the approach taken in relation to three aspects of employee-privacy, namely: the opportunity for employers to request employees to disclose symptoms, the conduct of examination of employees and, finally, the disclosure of affected employees’ identity to peers.

A snapshot is provided for Belgium, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. For a broader review of cybersecurity and data privacy aspects in relation to COVID-19, please read our Legal Update on the subject.

Enjoy the reading.

Diletta De Cicco and Charles Helleputte

Continue Reading COVID-19 and Employees’ Privacy: Capita Selecta

Every day, we receive new information on measures taken by the German Federal Government, the Federal States, the European Union and its institutions. The clear, common goal is to cushion the effects of the corona-pandemic on the German and European economy. On 13 March 2020, both the German Federal Government and the European Commission presented

In light of the current COVID-19 crisis and the uncertainties connected therewith, many employers wonder how they can best protect their staff.  Where possible, employees are encouraged to work from home.  However, there are several businesses and tasks for which a remote workspace is not an option.  A measure regularly proposed and implemented in these cases is compulsory temperature testing for employees at the entrances to a site or building, with a subsequent refusal of entry for employees with an elevated temperature or refusing to test.

In Germany, this approach poses several risks under German data privacy law.

Continue Reading Compulsory Temperature Testing and the Protection of Employee Data

On Monday, 16 March 2020, the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz) announced that they are working on a legislative provision according to which the obligation to file for insolvency within three weeks following the occurrence of a reason for insolvency (i.e. illiquidity or over-indebtedness) would be suspended for such entities which face liquidity issues due to the Corona (COVID-19) pandemic.

Continue Reading German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection Announced Suspension of the Obligation to File for Insolvency