Status: 02.11.2021 10:36 a.m.
There are calls from business for a statutory 3G regulation for the workplace. The first companies act themselves – for example with separate canteen areas for vaccinated and unvaccinated people. What are the hurdles?
What has already been introduced in some European countries could now also come through the back door in Germany: a kind of 3G or 2G rule in the workplace. So far, there is no nationwide legal framework in this country, as in France, Austria and Italy, to link access to the workplace to a vaccination against the SARS-CoV-2 virus or to the convalescent status or negative test results in all industries.
The first German companies are now rushing forward with their own rules in order to reduce the risk of infection through differentiated rules for vaccinated and convalescent on the one hand and unvaccinated on the other. Sometimes it is also about being able to define different requirements for the protective measures for both groups.
Bayer checks “2G canteen”
Bayer is currently testing its own canteen areas only for vaccinated and convalescent people. A spokesman for the Leverkusen chemical and pharmaceutical company confirmed this tagesschau.de. But the concept is still in the pilot phase. They want to wait for the results until details can be given.
The DAX group emphasizes, however, that non-vaccinated people still have access to the canteens. Everything will be planned in close cooperation with the works council, according to a report by the “Rheinische Post” on Monday.
The supplier E.On and the travel company Alltours also want to offer vaccinated and recovered employees their own canteen areas or their own cafés in the future. In the special areas, they can then sit together casually. The unvaccinated or those who do not want to reveal their vaccination status would still have to walk around with masks and be content with dividing walls when eating.
Alltours: canteen with 2G area
A spokesman for Alltours confirmed the plans to also impose the 2G rule in parts of the canteen. At the moment it is still closed. “But when it opens again, there will be a 2G area,” he said tagesschau.de. “Safety and health always come first.” The Alltours spokesman does not expect any major problems. Over 90 percent of the employees have already been vaccinated. More than half are still in the home office anyway.
The Krombacher brewery is already one step further. According to her own statements, she has been practicing the 2G rule “for some time” in her two canteens. A mask does not have to be worn at work if a minimum distance of 1.50 meters can be maintained, said a spokesman.
Meetings and working groups only with vaccinated and convalescent people
Some of the meetings in individual companies are already based on the 2G principle. According to the “Rheinische Post”, Bayer employees join forces on their own to form work groups without unvaccinated persons. Self-organized groups could, for example, work together in open-plan offices, laboratories or production areas without any distance or mask if all participants have been vaccinated or have recovered.
A few corporations have already introduced 3G restrictions across the company. SAP, for example, has only been letting employees into the offices who have been vaccinated, recovered or tested for weeks – but the regulation is implemented on the basis of trust. Most SAP employees also work from home and expressly have this option if they are opposed to the 3G requirements for working in the office. Deutsche Börse has set up a 3G model since mid-September – on a voluntary basis, mind you. This is due to the legal basis in Germany, says a spokesman.
Because companies are not yet allowed to query the vaccination status of their employees. So far there is no general national legal regulation for this. The Infection Protection Act only provides the right to a vaccination status query for a few professional fields such as employees of care facilities and daycare centers. However, individual federal states such as Hesse and Hamburg allow 2G in the workplace.
Controversial under labor law
Employers can develop a protection and hygiene concept and refer to the legislature, says labor lawyer Benjamin Onnis from the Frankfurt law firm FPS. The employer could argue that the right to information about a vaccination, which is actually not permitted, would then be necessary for the protection concept, he says.
Labor law expert Martina Hidalgo from the corporate law firm CMS sees a 2G or 3G regulation in German companies as more problematic. “If the employer demands a corona test or a vaccination as a prerequisite for the performance of work, with this instruction he intervenes in the basic right of physical integrity and in general in the general personal rights of the employee,” she explains tagesschau.de. He is only allowed to do this if his interests outweigh those of the employee and if the works council agrees. When it comes to vaccination, this intervention goes too far, Hidalgo believes.
Canteen is not part of work
She sees the separation of the canteen as vaccinated and unvaccinated as less of a problem. “The canteen is not part of the work performance, the employees do not need access to do their work.” 3G and even 2G should be permitted here.
Hamburg’s Senator for Labor and Health, Melanie Leonhard, also believes that dividing the canteens is not a legal problem. Most of the canteens are privately organized and can therefore be rated as restaurants. Separation is only inadmissible in the case of shift work with meals.
Meanwhile, many companies are hoping for the federal government. DAX companies such as Conti and RWE would welcome a nationwide uniform 3G regulation. This could be anchored in the Infection Protection Act or in the Data Protection Ordinance. “The federal government and the states must quickly jointly create a clear federal legal basis so that the companies can use 3G-based protective measures for their employees in a comprehensible and planned manner in the coming weeks,” said Siegfried Russwurm, President of the Federation of German Industries (BDI).