Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Labour Law

Labour Law

Suspension of the limitation period for claims under labour law:

According to the new § 18 b para. 2 AVRAG, limitation periods for labour law claims are suspended and therefore extend the limitation period:

The continuation of current statutory, collective bargaining and contractual limitation and expiry periods relating to claims arising from the employment relationship that run on 16 March 2020 or begin after this date will be suspended until 30 April 2020.

Unilateral obligation by the employer to take leave:

In the case of a prohibition to enter a company, the employer can demand that the employee consume holiday and time credits during this period.

Holiday entitlements from the current holiday year need only be used up to a maximum of two weeks. Older holiday entitlements can be used up in full. In total, no more than 8 weeks of holiday and time credits need to be used up.

Amicable fixing of holidays:

Holiday can be agreed upon ad hoc between employer and employee by mutual consent.

Unilateral short-time working ordered by the employer:

The COVID 19 Fund Act created a financial fund whose resources can be used, among other things, to stimulate the labour market (especially short-time work within the meaning of Section 13 (1) of the Labour Market Financing Act in conjunction with Section 37b of the Labour Market Service Act).

If, as a result of the current crisis in terms of COVID-2019, a company is therefore temporarily in economic difficulties which are not seasonal and are due to external circumstances which cannot be controlled by the company, and full capacity utilisation of the employees cannot be ensured as a result, the introduction of a short-time working solution is possible in order to avoid the threat of redundancies. The aim of this approach is to keep wage costs as low as possible while maintaining the employment relationships with the employees.

The resulting loss of working hours during the short-time working period (initially 3 months, an extension is possible) may not be less than ten percent and not more than ninety percent of the normal working hours stipulated by law or collective agreement.

At present, net remuneration within the scope of short-time working amounts to at least

  • with a gross remuneration before short-time work of up to € 1,700, 90% of the previous net remuneration;
  • with a gross remuneration before short-time work up to € 2,685, 85% of the previous net remuneration;
  • with a gross remuneration before short-time work up to € 5,370; 80% of the previous net remuneration;
  • for apprentices 100% of the previous net remuneration.

Such measures require a lead time, as the AMS must be involved. A social partner agreement between the Chamber of Commerce and the trade union ("CORONA" social partner agreement) must also be concluded.

Without adherence to the procedure, the unilateral ordering of short-time work is not possible. The relevant forms, which have changed several times, are available in their current version from the AMS or can be downloaded from its homepage.

It is also to be expected that the responsible authorities will carry out checks in this regard; in the event of non-compliance with the provisions set out in the funding notification and in the event of misuse, the amounts received may also be reclaimed by the paying agency and penalties may be imposed.

Amicable agreement on short-time work, time off, etc:

Employer and employee can of course agree amicably that the employee works reduced hours for a certain period of time, consumes time off, etc.

Virus symptoms of employees:

Please encourage your employees not to come to the company in case of illness or the appearance of COVID-19 symptoms, in order to avoid infecting customers and employees. Health is a top priority in such times.

Special care times:

Employers and employees may agree on special care periods of up to three weeks from the date of the official closure of educational establishments and childcare facilities for the care of children up to the age of 14. One third of the remuneration is reimbursed by the Federal Government at the employer's request.

No unilateral measures by the employee:

May the employee stay away from work if he or she fears contagion?

Fear alone is not a sufficient reason to refuse to work. Unilateral absence from work for no reason is a breach of duty and regularly a reason for dismissal.

A refusal to work would only be justified if there is an objectively comprehensible risk of contracting the virus at work. This might be the case if there is evidence of infection with the virus in the immediate work environment.

May a worker refuse to work with people returning from affected areas?

In principle not, unless the returning person shows symptoms of infection. Only activities that have not been agreed in the employment contract can be refused. An unfounded refusal to (co-)work constitutes a refusal to work which may justify dismissal.

We will be happy to advise you so that you can find the best solution for your company. Please contact us at or by phone at 01 725 77.