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.
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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