Occupational Health and Safety Regulation to be adapted

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Established coronavirus measures remain in place Occupational Health and Safety Regulation to be adapted

The Coronavirus Occupational Health and Safety Regulation has been adapted and updated. Established measures such as the requirement to offer tests and the general rules regarding social distancing, hygiene, face coverings and ventilation remain in place. But there are new additions, too: in future, companies are to give their employees time off to get vaccinated.

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Meeting during the coronavirus pandemic. Employees wearing masks at the office.

Office work in the pandemic: operational hygiene plans must continue to be drawn up, updated and implemented in the future.

Photo: Getty Images/Alvarez

The amendment of the Coronavirus Occupational Health and Safety Regulation extends the requirements for infection control at the workplace beyond 10 September and adapts them to the current significant increase in infection figures.

Vaccination enabled during working hours

A new requirement – and something that many companies are already doing – is that employers are to support their staff in getting vaccinated. They will have to provide their employees with information about the risks of COVID-19 and existing vaccination options, as well as giving them release time from work to get vaccinated. Where vaccinations are provided by in-house doctors, support is to be provided in terms of organisation and personnel.

As Federal Minister of Labour Hubertus Heil explained: “The only way to combat the fourth wave that has now started is by more vaccinations. To this end, companies will have to intensify their efforts to motivate those employees to get vaccinated who haven’t done so yet.”

Testing for additional safety

Established coronavirus occupational health and safety measures will be maintained – such as the requirement for employers to offer all employees working on the company premises to do a test twice a week. This only applies if employee protection cannot be ensured by other means: for example, employees who are fully vaccinated or can provide evidence that they have recovered from COVID-19 do not need to be tested. Employees are not required by law to accept the offer of testing or provide information about their vaccination status. Even though the number of vaccinated and recovered persons at work is continuously on the increase, tests are a low-threshold means of providing additional safety for employees.

In addition, companies remain obliged to implement the following measures:

  • Limitation of the number of workers in closed working and rest areas
  • Fixed working teams
  • Wearing face coverings where close contact cannot be avoided
  • Preparation and implementation of operational hygiene concepts

The extension and supplementation of the occupational health and safety regulation is part of the implementation of the resolutions agreed on at the Federal-Länder Conference of 10 August 2021. The Federal Cabinet has approved the amendments to the SARS CoV-2 Occupational Health and Safety Regulation. The revised regulation comes into force as of 10 September. It is valid for the duration of the pandemic situation until 26 November at the latest.