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Germany introduces 3G rules for workplaces: What you need to know

Germany introduces 3G rules for workplaces: What you need to know

Germany introduces 3G rules for workplaces: What you need to know

As part of a package of new coronavirus measures signed off this week, Germany has introduced the 3G rule to workplaces across the country. We take a look at what this means for employees in Germany. 

What’s changing with Germany’s COVID rules for workplaces?

The revised Infection Protection Act has received the approval of both the Bundestag and the Bundesrat, meaning that, among other things, a new 3G regulation for workplaces in Germany will apply from this week. In general, offices can in future only be entered by people who can present proof of vaccination, recovery, or test. 

The federal government has justified this move on the basis that workplaces necessitate physical contact “with one another or with third parties [that] cannot be excluded.” 

In addition, the general obligation to work from home - wherever possible - will come back into force. This rule was previously in place until June this year. But what exactly do these rules mean for employees, and how will they work in practice? Here’s an overview. 

New work-from-home guidance

The so-called “home office obligation”, which was lifted on July 1, 2021, is coming back into force. Simply put, this means that all companies must allow their employees to work from home, unless there is a compelling reason why they cannot do this. 

Employees, for their part, have to accept the offer to work from home, again unless there is a compelling reason why they cannot. Simple reasons such as a lack of space or distractions caused, for instance, by children are sufficient. 

If employees are unable to work from home: 3G rules apply

If an employee does come into the workplace, they will need to provide a 3G certificate for each day they work from the office. For vaccinated and recovered employees, this is simply a case of showing proof of one’s vaccination against coronavirus or a previous infection. 

The Federal Ministry of Labour has said that it will be sufficient for employers to check these certificates once and then keep a record of this. However, employees should keep proof of their status on-hand to show in case of an official inspection. 

For unvaccinated people, this means showing proof of a negative COVID test for each day worked in the office. 

Who is responsible for organising COVID tests for work?

It is up to the employee to provide evidence of a negative test result. This means that anyone who wants to go into work must take it upon themselves to obtain the relevant documentation. Time taken out for testing will not be considered part of someone’s normal working hours

What kinds of COVID tests are acceptable?

The negative test result can be either a PCR test or a rapid antigen test from an approved test centre. A PCR test must have been taken no more than 48 hours before entering the workplace, whereas a rapid antigen test must be no more than 24 hours old. 

Will self-tests be accepted?

In principle, tests must be carried out by third parties. The Federal Ministry of Labour has clarified to Welt that “self-tests for personal use that are not carried out under supervision” will not qualify as “certified evidence.” They suggested that employees take advantage of the free “citizen tests” (Bürgertest). 

Who pays for the tests?

Employees are already entitled to at least two free tests per week, paid for by the employer. For the other days, workers can use the free citizen tests. You have the right to one free citizen test per week but, so long as there is sufficient capacity, workers will be entitled to more free tests. If there is no available capacity, employees will need to pay for the tests privately. 

What happens in the event of violations?

Workplaces cannot be entered without a 3G certificate. Anyone who violates this rule will be deemed to have committed an administrative offence. Anyone who cannot work from home and therefore has to go into the office will not be able to do their job without a 3G certificate. The employer may issue a warning, withhold wages for lost hours and, as a last resort, may also be able to terminate the employee’s contract

Employers who do not check the immunity or infection status of their workers will face a fine. 

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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