October 31, 2020

Failure to use the mask is already a cause of dismissal in Berlin


Berlin

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Germany expects a harsh autumn of contagions and the administration is tightening restrictions. One of the most striking new measures is the obligation to use a mask in offices and workstations, which until now the companies decided in each case. Although in Spain it may be difficult to believe, most of the supermarket cashiers in the German capital, for example, have not been wearing a mask until now during their working hours. With this new regulation, however, it becomes mandatory. And next to the rule comes the sanction. The Berlin Senate establishes that the non-compliance with the mandatory use of the mask is from now on reason for dismissal.

The mask becomes imperative in office and administration buildings. When entering and exiting the building, as well as in hallways and in copy rooms and kitchens. Eventually, in individual offices, it can be exceptionally set aside while the worker is at her desk. The employer must also meet the requirements of presenting a proper hygiene concept, which it must then implement, in addition to ensuring that all employees are protected from risks to their health. There are exceptions, so that the employer may not require the use of a mask during an outdoor activity and with sufficient distances, but the employee must comply with company rules and, if she repeatedly refuses, it will be grounds for dismissal.

“In the end, it will be a court that decides how far the company’s law goes, but as a general rule, the use of a mask is legally considered a necessary measure and employees who do not wish to wear it must be very careful when arguing the reasons. Surely the jurisprudence will establish conditions or exceptions, but at the moment a company can fire an employee who simply refuses to wear it correctly, ”explains labor lawyer Nicole Mutschke.

For Berlin workers it is a high grade requirement, given that in Germany the use of the mask is not compulsory on the street and many workers allege that its systematic use during long working hours is harmful. “If the employee does not follow the valid instruction, this can now have significant consequences. First, the threat of a warning and, in the worst case, even dismissal, ”insists Mutschke. Health reasons, such as respiratory problems, can lead to some people being exempted, but each case must be discussed with the company and, ultimately, a court would decide. “But we are entering a new legal territory, because if an employee alleges that for health reasons he cannot comply with the conditions of that job, that can also be a reason for termination of the contract,” adds the expert.

Germany has just also limited the capacity at family parties, which according to statistics are a source of outbreaks. Bundesländer registering 35 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants will have to restrict the number of participants in these meetings to 25 if held outdoors and 10 if they take place at home. In the case of parties or extra-family gatherings, the capacity will be 50.

Another source of contagion is travel abroad, so the German government has also just modified its recommendations, which are no longer made by country but more precisely: pro regions. The only EU countries whose territory is still considered the entire risk zone are Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic. The government advises against traveling to a risk area unless it is strictly necessary and the traveler who decides to undertake the trip will do so personally assuming the consequences. Upon his return, he must keep a mandatory quarantine and undergo a test in the fifth day. Only a negative result will end the quarantine, during which time off work cannot be claimed. The affected person who in those days should go to his job, must overcome the quarantine in the form of vacations without pay.

Chancellor Merkel has called on citizens to responsibly comply with protection regulations and has asked to prolong the effort over the coming months. “Everything possible must be done to avoid confinement,” she said, insisting that the priority is to keep schools and nurseries open. «We will get our lives back, we will go on vacation to our favorite destinations, we will go to the theater again with families, we will do without the mask, but it won’t be throughout this entire course», He told the plenary session of the Bundestag.

The number of infected in Germany is already close to 300,000. In the last 24 hours there have been 2,503 cases and, since the start of the pandemic, 9,500 people have died in this country from the coronavirus.

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