Corona Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance extended


The Federal Cabinet has approved the extension and amendment of the Corona Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance. Basic tried and tested occupational safety measures will be retained - such as the obligation to offer free COVID-19 testing and the rules concerning social distancing, following the basic rules of good hygiene, wearing a face covering as well as ventilation.  But some new rules will also be added. In future, employers will have to allow their employees time off during work hours to get a COVID-19 vaccination. The Ordinance will enter into force on 10 September and will apply up to and including 26 November of this year, linked to the duration of the pandemic situation. However, the Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance does not provide employers with the right to obtain information on the vaccination status of their employees. The following article provides a brief overview of the main points of the new provisions.


New obligations for employers: Encouraging staff to get vaccinated through education and by granting leave

The obligation of employers to inform employees about the risks of the COVID-19 disease and about existing vaccination options is a new addition to the Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance.  If company doctors carry out in-house vaccinations, they are to be supported in terms of organisation and personnel.

In addition, the employer must allow employees to be vaccinated during work hours. They must be released from their work duties during this time.

Even though the Ordinance does not explicitly state whether this leave is paid or unpaid, the likely meaning of the regulation is that this is time off during which the employer must pay remuneration for the work that is not performed. However, the question of whether such a remuneration obligation can be effectively regulated within the framework of a simple ordinance is already being hotly debated by legal experts just a few short days after the Ordinance entered into force.

Tried and tested regulations remain in place
  • Company hygiene plans must be drawn up and updated. The associated policy must be made available to all employees. The SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance remains the most important basis for drawing up the company hygiene policy. The guidance documents issued by the statutory accident insurance schemes may be additionally used as a source for more detailed industry-specific requirements.
  • Employers are still required to offer free rapid or self-testing at least twice a week to all employees who do not work exclusively from home. The Ordinance provides for an exemption from this obligation if protection for workers can be ensured in another way. Employees who provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or that they have recovered from COVID-19 could, for example, be excluded from the testing offer. The fact remains, however, that employees are under no obligation to accept the offer of testing or to provide information about their vaccination or recovery status.
  • Operational contacts and situations where there are multiple people using working areas or recreational rooms at the same time must continue to be reduced to the necessary minimum. Working from home can also make an important contribution to this.
  • Employers must provide medical face masks at least in locations where other technical and organisational measures, such as reduced room occupancy, social distancing or partition walls, fail to provide sufficient protection.
Achim Braner

Achim Braner
Frankfurt a.M.
+49 69 27229 23839

Nadine Ceruti

Nadine Ceruti
Frankfurt a.M.
+49 69 27229 24795