Whereas it has previously been necessary to fall back on general principles when planning occupational health and safety measures, Federal Minister of Labour, Mr Heil has now specified these in more detail on 16 April 2020 and has thus established guidelines for (physical) cooperation.
The requirements set out here must already be complied with by the employer due to his or her duty of care for the employees (Sec. 618 BGB and Sec. 3 – 5 ArbSchG). Even if these standards are not directly legally binding, a violation can lead to liability for damages.
The central point is the minimum distance of 1.5 m, which must be observed both at the workplace and in communal facilities and on means of transport. If this is impossible for practical reasons, respiratory masks should be used, which must then also be provided or at least financed by the employer. Likewise, these requirements apply not only to contacts between employees but also to contacts with customers. Furthermore, it is recommended to shift office work (as before) to working from home if possible and to limit business trips and all physical meetings to absolutely essential areas.
In this respect, a distinction is made between technical measures (conversion of offices; Plexiglasanes; disinfection; distance signs; working from home), organisational measures (shiftlanning; working time and break planning) and personal measures.
It is also emphasised that even in the case of minor symptoms, presence at the workplace should be avoided. In this respect, both employers and employees must be sensitised accordingly.
Some of these measures do, however, require consultation with the works council.
You can find an overview about all measures here: H_S Regulations(15566352.1).