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Corona pandemic to work with a cough? Important questions and answers

Symbolic picture: Home Officeimago images / Westend61

Can the employer send me home if I cough and have a fever?

The DGB Rechtsschutz has a clear answer here: “He even has to.” In this case, the further procedure is clear: “If you show the typical signs of a corona infection such as fever, cough and shortness of breath, you must leave the company premises immediately and return to your home. You must immediately contact the doctor treating you or the health department by telephone.

Until a doctor determines that you are not infected with the virus, you are considered unable to work. “

But what if I just cough and could actually work?

“An employer who sends employees who are able and ready to work home purely as a precautionary measure remains obliged to pay the remuneration”, informs the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (BMAS). “In these cases the employee does not have to make up for the lost working hours.”

Do I have to go to the office when my colleagues cough?

Generally yes, the BMAS says: “There is no general right of the employee to stay away from work when a wave of illnesses such as Covid-19 breaks out.” In order to be able to make use of the so-called right to refuse performance, the work must be unreasonable for the person concerned. According to the ministry, this requires at least a serious suspicion that there is a risk to body or health: “The mere coughing of colleagues without further objectively justified suspicions or indications of a danger will probably not be enough.”

Do I have to go to work if I am afraid of getting infected in the crowded subways and buses during the cold season?

According to the DGB, legal protection applies here as well: “The risk of being infected on the way to work is part of the general life risk that employees have to bear. Therefore, you must not simply stay away from work if you fear that you will be infected with the corona virus on the way there. However, you should adhere to the protective measures ordered by the state and maintain a safe distance of one and a half meters from other people. “

Do I have the right to switch to the home office?

There is no legal right to work from home. In return, according to the DGB, legal protection also applies: “Employers cannot unilaterally instruct home offices” – for example, to remove a coughing employee from the office, although he has only worked there so far. The home office can be regulated in the employment contract, in a valid collective agreement or in a works agreement.


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