At the beginning of 2020, the coronavirus has arrived in Germany. Somewhere between hoarding purchases and statistics, the important question arises: How should employers deal with the situation? If virus infections break out in a company, in the worst case it can lead to production downtime and even plant closures. Costs that should be prevented at all costs. That’s why we provide answers to the most important questions here.

Does a company have to take measures to reduce the risk of infection with a virus?

Only in extreme cases of a pandemic do the authorities oblige all or certain companies to initiate targeted measures against the spread of the virus. But even if there are no official requirements, it can be very useful to take measures out of your own interest. For example, you can post instructions on proper hand washing in sanitary facilities. Proactive communication also helps. Decide (possibly together with the works council) which rules employees should follow. In general, the company has a duty of care. So if there is an acute risk of infection for your employees, you must take appropriate measures.

Is there support from the state

A viral infection can not only affect your own employees, but also have an impact on sales. In the early 2020s, companies that traded with China or other affected countries may have seen their sales drop significantly. As in other cases, companies can use short-time work as an immediate means of cushioning these slumps. In doing so, they can reduce the regular working hours of their employees. In this case, the Federal Employment Agency will pay for part of the lost wages of your employees. As a company, you can retain your skilled workers in this way despite economic bottlenecks and save yourself expensive recruiting measures when business picks up again. Emergency loans could also be granted. In this regard, pay attention to current news or consult your tax advisor if you have questions.

Are employees suspected of being infected with an infectious virus such as Corona allowed to stay home?

Mere suspicion of being infected with a virus is not normally sufficient for a leave of absence. As with a normal illness, the usual way of reporting sickness also applies. In this case, a doctor’s certificate must be submitted no later than the day specified.

Can companies inquire about employees’ vacation destinations if there is an increased risk of infection in the destination country?

The vacation destination of employees is their private matter. Therefore, the company has no right to know the travel destinations of employees.

The emergency: what to do if someone in the company falls ill with a contagious virus

In early 2020, companies should work closely with the health department if a Corona infection is suspected. But even in the case of less dangerous viruses, management should take appropriate steps to protect the rest of the workforce. If more employees show symptoms, supervisors should definitely send them home.