Companies must offer tests

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COVID-19 Occupational Health and Safety Regulation Companies must offer tests

In future employers must offer their employees COVID-19 tests. The German government has decided to extend the COVID-19 Occupational Health and Safety Regulations until 30 June 2021 and amend them to include this obligation for employers.

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Rapid antigen test for COVID-19

Employers are required to offer employees who cannot work from home a weekly COVID-19 test.

Photo: imago images/Laci Perenyi

Not everyone can work from home. The workplace and the way to and from work represent an additional risk of infection where this is not practicable. Tests at work can help identify infections at an early stage and prevent the infection spreading. In future employers will be required to offer COVID-19 tests to their employees.

Tests offer employees additional security

The efforts of many employers to date to offer tests voluntarily have been very much appreciated. The change to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation means that employers are now required to offer staff who cannot work from home one COVID-19 test a week. Groups of employees who face a higher risk of infection are to be offered twice weekly tests.

The tests are a necessary supplement to in-company infection control and offer the workforce additional security. “In this way we can prevent infection chains, protect health, and in the final analysis avoid companies having to close down. This new requirement has become necessary to ensure that the entire workforce of companies receive the offer of a test,” explained Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil. The changes will be introduced by regulation and are expected to come into effect by the middle of next week.

Measures currently in place still apply

Employers will bear the costs of the tests. Employees are not required to accept the offer of testing. There are no plans to require certification of the test results.

It is important, however, that the existing measures remain in place:

  • Limiting the number of employees in enclosed workspaces and break rooms
  • Home office unless company-specific reasons preclude this
  • Formation of fixed working groups within the company
  • Face masks mandatory when contact is unavoidable
  • Company hygiene concepts must be drawn up and implemented.

With this change, the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation will be extended until 30 June 2021. The Cabinet has noted the second regulation to amend the COVID-19 Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.