Survey finds that few German companies are offering employees rapid tests

Survey finds that few German companies are offering employees rapid tests

Survey finds that few German companies are offering employees rapid tests

Back in March, the federal and state governments called on businesses in Germany to offer a weekly, free rapid coronavirus test to all employees who are obliged to come to the office. However, a recent survey has revealed that this is not the reality for many employees in Germany.

Coronavirus tests for employees

At the beginning of March, Germany’s federal and state governments requested that companies provide all employees who aren’t working from home with a free coronavirus test at least once a week. However, a survey by the Institute of Economics and Social Sciences (WSI) has found that only around a quarter of employees have been offered a rapid test at least once a week by their companies.

In the second half of March, the WSI surveyed 3.000 employees and found that rapid tests were not being offered, or even promised, to more than half of the employees who were required to be in the workplace. Only 23 percent of respondents reported that their companies were offering all employees a rapid coronavirus test at least once a week. 17 percent of respondents said that their companies had promised to offer something in the near future.

Employee testing not mandatory

So far, the federal and state governments have not made it obligatory for companies to test their employees for coronavirus. However, there have been calls for nationwide, mandatory testing. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) has called for a nationwide obligation to provide employees with free coronavirus tests. The German Trade Union Federation (DGB) has joined Scholz in calling for companies to provide free tests. "The self-commitment of the companies alone is not enough," said the head of the DGB, Reiner Hoffmann.

Elke Ahlers, from the WSI, asserts that companies have a duty of care for their employees, as promulgated by the occupational health and safety law. This law forces employers to take necessary health and safety regulations and update them in accordance with new developments. "Corona rapid tests can help to detect outbreaks in the workplace at an early stage or to prevent them entirely," said Ahlers. "The disappointingly low implementation rate shows that binding regulation is necessary."

Employers call for testing to remain voluntary

German employers have so far largely rejected compulsory testing. The Federation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA) presented its own figures on Tuesday, which show that 80 to 90 percent of companies are either already testing or preparing to start testing their employees. "The commitment shows what the economy can do in a short time with entrepreneurship and pragmatism - without bureaucracy and legal regulation," declared the BDA.

Small and medium-sized businesses tend to agree that testing should remain voluntary. Testing within companies poses a number of issues, and problems with delivery and organisation remain frequent. Companies in Germany have also found that employees are hesitant to accept coronavirus tests from their employers.

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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