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Employers in Germany must now offer their staff free COVID-19 tests

Employers in Germany must now offer their staff free COVID-19 tests

Employers in Germany must now offer their staff free COVID-19 tests

As of Tuesday, April 20, all employers in Germany are required to provide their workers with at least one COVID-19 test per week, unless they work from home. Here’s what employees and companies need to know about this new rule. 

Germany forces companies to offer workers corona tests

Since March, everyone in Germany has been entitled to take one free rapid test per week, either at their local testing site, or via their doctor. To expand the reach of testing, the German government previously also decided that companies should be “encouraged” to offer rapid tests to their employees. 

So far, however, evidence suggests that companies are not putting basic hygiene measures in place for employees, and not offering regular tests. Furthermore, a study released a few weeks ago by a researcher based in Munich found that more than two-thirds of workers in Germany were still working partially or fully from their place of work, rather than from home. 

Angela Merkel has therefore made good on her promise to force companies to start offering regular tests, in an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus in workplaces. The new regulation comes into force this Tuesday and applies initially until the end of June. 

Free COVID-19 tests for staff: What are the new rules?

In a nutshell, all employees in Germany should now be offered a rapid or self-test kit, free of charge, at least once a week. The rule only applies to employees who are working partially or fully on-site. It does not apply to anyone who is working exclusively from home. 

Employees who are particularly at risk - for instance if they have regular contact with customers or perform close-contact services - are entitled to two tests per week. Employees who are housed in shared accommodation by their employer must also be offered two tests per week. 

Who pays for the tests?

The cost is to be borne by the employer, and companies could be fined up to 30.000 euros for not offering the tests. In principle, companies that have been badly hit by the pandemic and are eligible for bridging aid can apply for reimbursement for the cost of the rapid tests from the government. 

Am I obliged to take a test?

No. Employers are obliged to offer the tests to all of their staff, but you as a worker are not obliged to take up the offer. 

However, in certain industries, such as the healthcare sector, companies might be justified in obliging their employees to take tests. For instance, in facilities like hospitals and care homes, operators rely on being able to assess the risk of infection posed by their staff to patients.

Companies could also be justified in asking an employee to take a test in specific circumstances, for instance if the person in question is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or has been in contact with an infected person. 

Do positive test results have to be reported?

Companies have been recommended to make an agreement with their employees on how to proceed in the event of a positive test result. In general, any positive result from either a rapid test or a self test should be followed up and confirmed with a PCR test. The result of the PCR test will then be reported. 

More information

You can find more information about the company testing programme on the federal government’s website.

Abi

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Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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