Coronavirus and employment law – What you need to know in the pandemic

All areas of society are being subjected to a stress test by the corona-virus pandemic, this also includes the legal system as well as the field of employment law. We have to cope with the new situation of the pandemic by means of the known legal concepts. At the same time, legal requirements of public life, but also those of working life, e.g., the conditions regarding business trips, are changing almost every week. Despite the pandemic, the companies involved in Germany’s pit and quarry industry continued to work under even more difficult conditions in 2020 without interruption. Therefore, the employment-law related issues have to be solved under extreme time pressure, while they are discussed in the company in a highly emotional manner.

The areas of conflict and the legal concepts are nothing new for those involved in practical work. It’s about the wage risk in case of prevented work attendance, the limitations of the right to give instructions, the right to paid leave or employee data protection, and much more. However, new case constellations arose in almost all areas, for which jurisdiction and legal literature is sparsely or not available at all. Even after more than half a year many questions
still remain unanswered such as the relationship between the compensation claim under section 56 of the German Infection Protection Act (IfSG) in case of quarantine and contractual claims to continued remuneration according to section 616 of the German Civil Code (BGB) or the evidential value of certificates of incapability for work issued by phone. The gaps will be closed by jurisdiction and the legal system will solve all conflicts sooner or later. However, work has to go on in the companies already now.

Hence, in this situation, prudence and sense of proportion, courage to opt to a solution as well as open and intensive communication with the staff have also proven to be important virtues, in addition to skilled use of employment law.

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