Corona Pandemic and Company Council Meetings

In times of corona, every action we were actually taking without thinking has become an open question. This is the case of an employer (a German company operating in the field of clinical rehabilitation) and the group works council (in German Konzernbetriebsratsitzung) of its company.

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The Case:

The employer has temporarily prohibited all employees from attending inter-facility meetings and gatherings and has applied this prohibition also with regard to a planned meeting of the group works council, which is to be held in person over several days and requires the works council members to travel. The employer considers such a presence meeting to be unacceptable in view of the current Covid 19 pandemic. The group works council has however opposed to the prohibition and claimed that all applicable legal requirements for protection against infections have been complied with and there is no need to postpone meetings.

Tribunal Decision:

In the proceedings for interim relief, the Berlin Labor Court has ruled that a meeting of the group works council cannot be prohibited.

According to the decision of the labor court, there is no legal basis for a ban of this kind of meetings. According to the Works Constitution Act, the chairman of the group works council decides on the convening of the meeting, the place of the meeting and thus also on whether a meeting is to be held in the form of a video or telephone conference.

According to the Corona Contact and Operating Restrictions Ordinance currently in force at the venue, it is permissible to hold the meeting, whereby the observance and compliance with the Ordinance is primarily the responsibility of the group works council itself and its chairperson. The increase in risk remains despite expected compliance with the rules of conduct but this did not entitle the employer to prohibit the meeting as a face-to-face event.

This decision is subject to appeal to the Berlin-Brandenburg Regional Labour Court.

Are you facing similar problems with your employer? Just get in touch with us and let a lawyer analyze your situation. You are not alone.

NRW: Masks at School

Tribunal Decision of the Week

BWLH Reviews

As a matter of fact, masks have slowly but drastically become an ornament to our everyday life, just like shoes and clothes. Most countries of the world are changing rules in order to fight the corona global pandemic from spreading and infecting more people on a daily basis. 

The World Health Organization and most Centres for Disease Control and Prevention recommend including face masks at public events and everywhere, where it is difficult to keep the required social distancing. 

Masks come in a broad variety of styles and sizes and everybody own at least one. 

However, not everybody is ready to use one, when needed. 

This was the case of a couple of German students that definitely weren´t that happy to wear a mask in public!

The Case (Higher Administrative Court North Rhine-Westphalia AZ: 13 B 1368/20): 

The two students wanted to be permanently exempted from the compulsory masks to be worn in the school building. For this reason, they submitted medical certificates to the school management. The certificates stated that from a health point of view, wearing an everyday mask all day is not to be recommended. Concentration, attention and the process of learning of the applicants would suffer.

The school management however, decided not to accept the certificates and refuses to exempt them from the mask obligation. The parents decided to bring the case before a judge in court. 

Tribunal Decision:

The urgent application was rejected by the Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia. The justification for refusal was that the submitted medical certificates did not meet the minimum requirements, since the general impairments listed there, could ultimately affect all students and not only these two one. Rather, the medical certificate must clearly and specifically state the health impairment individually for and only these two subjects and specifically explain which are the consequences of the mask on them. Possible relevant previous illnesses should for instance be mentioned. Besides it must be clear, on which basis the attesting physician came to this estimation and on which evidences he attested so. The decision is also not contestable. 

Are you also living a situation that does not fit your expectations and you would like to clarify the problems you are facing?

Get in touch with us. We are a team of expert lawyers and we are happy to help you. Just fill out our form and get a free price estimate for your case. 

Our new project at horak. Attorneys at Law

Tribunal Decision – BWLH Reviews

Dear readers, 

as an international law firm, we are constantly in contact with the tribunal judiciary system in Germany and worldwide. Law is our passion and Law is what we want to talk about. 

In this regard, we are glad to present you our new project: 

Tribunal Decision – BWLH Reviews.

Our team is reviewing each week a significant actual tribunal decision and offering you the possibility to get to know our world better, step by step. Most of the decisions will come from the databases of the German Federal Supreme Court of Germany, Higher Administrative Courts, District Courts, Local Courts and so much more. 

This opening week will be all about the main topic that has been shaking and trembling this year 2020 all around the world: the corona virus pandemic. While all around the world people are fighting against the virus, the economy of entire regions is seeing the crisis coming. Restrictions and new regulation can however not stop the economy completely. From schools to offices, everything is getting digitalized and the world goes on…line, from home. Smart working, zoom meetings, home office are the keywords of the future.

But not everybody likes to work from home. 

This was the case of an over 60-year-old Berlin woman, that highly prefers her office instead of staying home. 

The Case: 

The applicant is employed as an official inspector at a Berlin district office. At the end of March 2020, her employer ordered that she should work in home office until April 2020. The decision was necessary for health care reasons, as the employee is exposed to an increased risk of COVID-19 disease due to her age. She should be available for the office by telephone, and if necessary, she would be given work orders for home processing. Against this order, the applicant claimed that there was no legal basis for imposing home office work. The internal regulations merely provided that home office could be ordered upon application by the respective employee; however, she had not made such an application. 

The Decision of the Tribunal: 

The 28th Chamber however dismissed the urgent application, as this is just an exceptional situation acceptable due to corona pandemic

The applicant had to accept the organizational measure taken, at least for a limited period of time. The office inspector remains in her function and is neither pushed out of the service nor forced to inactivity for an unlimited period of time. According to the court, in the exceptional situation caused by the corona pandemic, it is acceptable that the employment conditions (as office etc.) are temporarily limited to mere on-call duty and that individual tasks are to be executed in home office.

An appeal against the decision can be lodged with the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg.

Order of the 28th Chamber of 14 April 2020 (VG 28 L 119/20)

What do you think about it? Are you living a similar case and you would like to talk to a lawyer about that? Get in touch with us. 

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