The German government has announced that, in light of falling infection rates, the “SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance” will not be extended (press release dated May 24, 2022; see also our blog dated November 24, 2021).
As a result, from May 26, 2022, no specific COVID-19 rules apply in the workplace. Employers are now again subject to the general principles of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. In particular, employers must carry out a risk assessment dependent on the nature of the business and taking into account, amongst other matters, whether physical distance can be maintained. Employees must, in accordance with Sec. 15 (1) of the German Occupational Health and Safety Act (Arbeitsschutzgesetz), once again take greater responsibility for their own occupational safety. In particular, they are obliged to ensure their own health and safety at work to the best of their ability and in accordance with the employer’s instructions and guidelines. In addition to responsibility for themselves, they must also ensure the health and safety of those affected by their actions or omissions at work.
However, as further outbreaks in the workplace cannot be ruled out in the future, the German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (Bundesarbeitsministerium) requires employers to continue monitoring the level of infection and, if necessary, to adapt the company’s hygiene regime. The Ministry will provide recommendations in the form of frequently asked questions (FAQs). These recommendations will focus in particular on those infection control measures that have proved particularly effective during the pandemic.