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.
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.
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.
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