As of this week, stricter quarantine regulations apply to people entering and returning to the Federal Republic of Germany.
Employees who enter Germany from a high-risk area must now observe a ten-day quarantine at their destination. Although this reduces the quarantine period from 14 days to 10 days, it cannot be completely avoided anymore. Testing is now only possible starting at the fifth day after entering Germany. If this provides a negative test result, the remaining quarantine may be lifted. Nevertheless, should typical symptoms of a Covid-19 infection appear within the first ten days after arrival, the competent health authority must be informed immediately. Then a further test will be initiated. The testing is still without charges for German citizens entering from high-risk areas.
Members of various professional groups are exempt from the statutory quarantine obligation. Nevertheless, strict conditions apply to the exceptions. The exceptions differentiate between persons who must submit a negative test and those who are exempt from quarantine even without testing. E.g. the obligation to be isolated at home does not apply to short transit stays – regardless of a negative test. Border crossers are also covered by the exceptions for stays of up to 24 hours. The same rule applies to workers engaged in the transport of goods and merchandise for stays of up to 72 hours. In Baden-Württemberg, persons who are indispensable for the proper conduct of a court hearing are also not required to undergo quarantine (plaintiff, defendant, accused, expert and witness).
Furthermore, persons from systemically important professions are excluded from the quarantine obligation if they provide a negative test result, which is not older than 48 hours. Alternatively, a test can be done upon entry. These professions include in particular medical doctors, nurses, supporting medical staff and 24-hour care workers. Even people who can prove that they have to travel for compelling professional reasons, which cannot be postponed, are not required to undergo quarantine if they can provide a negative test result and do not stay for more than five days. In this case, the employer must certify the compelling necessity. However, since this is a statutory exception, strict requirements must be met.
Special rules also apply to seasonal workers. In this context, some local distinctive provisions apply (Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Rhineland-Palatinate).
Please keep in mind that the local statutory exceptions are not conclusively. In justified individual cases, the competent authority may upon request grant further exceptions if there is a valid reason.
The regulations for the return from business and vacation trips have become much stricter. Employers and employees should have a close look at the respective local exceptions when planning those trips.
3. EXTENSION OF CHILD SICKNESS BENEFITS
Another change of law provides relief to parents, who must stay at home to take care for their sick children.
Generally, remuneration has only to be paid to employees who have performed their contractually owed working obligation. Nevertheless, employees may have a claim for continued payment according to sec. 616 BGB for a relatively insignificant period of time. If the application of sec. 616 BGB is not mutually excluded by individual or collective agreements, a relatively insignificant period of time includes a period of around five days.
Independent thereof, employees have a right to be released from work without payment. In this case, employees receive statutory child health benefit for the duration of the care of a sick child, if the child has not yet reached the age of 12. The current change of law temporarily extends the duration of the claim for statutory child health benefits by five days per parent and child, and by ten days for single parents. The change is initially limited until the end of 2020.
In addition, the federal government wants to extend and expand the entitlement to compensation for loss of earnings due to mandatory closure of childcare facilities (see sec. 56 para.1a IfSG) until the end of March 2021. From December 2020 onwards, parents shall also be entitled to compensation payments if quarantine orders are issued for individual classes, groups or children, without closure of the whole school.