Working Safely during the Pandemic
Information for Members of Staff at the University of Bonn

Information for Members of Staff

The pandemic has disrupted many routines and caused considerable worry. We are all confronted by a number of questions every day. We have collected together the most important information and regulations related to the pandemic to help you navigate this difficult time. The information is updated regularly—please keep abreast of all changes.

Vaccination

Anyone who has not yet been vaccinated today should get vaccinated immediately - to protect themselves and those who cannot get vaccinated.

The Federal City of Bonn offers mobile vaccination opportunities in Bonn's districts. Further details can be found on the City of Bonn homepage. Furthermore, you can also get vaccinated in your general practitioner's and specialist's offices.

Impfungen
© Colourbox

Working, Working from Home and Working Hours

The challenges presented by the pandemic demands a considerable degree of flexibility and commitment from all members of the University staff. Depending on their area of operations, members of staff have experienced changes to their working hours, working locations and even team composition. All the information about working at the University of Bonn during the pandemic has been collected here.

A sign is mounted on a post showing pictogram, informing of the requirement to wear a mask. The University main building is visible in the background.
© Volker Lannert/Universität Bonn

Working

In addition to Circular 24/2022, Circular 30/2022 informs you which Corona measures will be taken at the workplace. You can find the circulars on the intranet. The basis for the measures to be taken is the General Hygiene and Protection Concept. This concept applies to all office workplaces available in the University as well as:

libraries, university sports, museums including botanical gardens and events (such as lectures; internships, excursions, receptions, honors, readings, performances, concerts, and information events).

The included regulations apply to most workplaces.

On-site working as well as occasional mobile working and regular working from home (alternating telework) will be permitted within the terms of the Civil Service Staff Council Agreement. Please note the requirements of the Civil Service Staff Council Agreement in this regard.

Transitional models for mobile working will be possible in consultation with the relevant supervisors until requests for alternating telework have been approved.

Detailed information is provided in Circular 77/2021 and in Confluence, where you will also find a list of FAQs containing the most important questions and answers.

The university provides its employees with medical or FFP2 masks for presence at the workplace. The offer of self-testing is also maintained at the rate of one test per week for employees working in presence.

The following masks can be ordered via the Lyreco web store:

  • FFP2 masks with ear loops: Lyreco Art. No. 14745406
  • FFP2 masks with head straps: Lyreco Art. No. 13460611
  • Medical masks: Lyreco Art. No. 14745428

Plexiglas screens in standard dimensions can also be ordered via the Lyreco webshop (search term "spit shields"). For custom-made partitions (e.g. for counters), please contact Occupational Safety and Health: arbeitsschutz@verwaltung.uni-bonn.de

Seeking to contain the spread of the coronavirus, virologists and the government have issued emphatic warnings against unnecessary travel. This includes any business travel.

The University management has ruled that members of staff should avoid business travel wherever possible and recommends the use of online videoconferencing as a substitute. 

Should it be decided that business travel is unavoidable, it is necessary to determine whether the proposed destination is located in an area designated as ‘high-risk’ or as a ‘virus mutation region’.

Employees have the right to refuse to travel to a place/country designated by the German Federal Foreign Office as a high-risk area or virus mutation region for which an official travel warning has been pronounced. The University cannot expect employees to work under circumstances that pose a substantial health risk, and such circumstances are given when traveling to a high-risk area or virus mutation region. An overview of virus variant areas can currently be found on the RKI website.

Travel to high-risk areas should only be approved in justified exceptional cases, as previously, and a statement via the responsible dean's office must be attached to such requests.

Please be advised of the applicable re-entry regulations.


A woman wearing a medical mask is looking pensively out of a window.
© Colourbox

Covid-19, Quarantine and Contact Tracing

Those who have come into contact with a person infected with Coronavirus or who have themselves developed Covid-19 and are required to quarantine, are confronted with a range of questions. Up-to-date information is available here.

Coronavirus/Covid-19

The test station in CP1 will close on 01 August
Due to economic reasons the test station in CP1 has to close down for the time being on August 01. We will endeavor to find a service provider again for a testing station at the same location at the start of the semester on October.

Self-tests will continue to be available as an alternative for employees.

Employees receive one self-test per week. Self-tests can be ordered bundled via the respective dean's office/divison from the Occupational and Environmental Safety Unit. Further details can be found in Circular 35/2021129991110886.

Here you will find the instructions131010101211997 for using the tests and a video14111111131210108 from the manufacturer with instructions for use.

Amendments to the Ordinance on Coronavirus Testing and Quarantine for North Rhine-Westphalia (CoronaTestQuarantäneVO) affect how coronavirus cases are handled and who may need to self-isolate. The following changes are also relevant to the University:

  • Whereas infected people who were self-isolating used to have to wait until day 7 before they could end their isolation with a negative test (“test-to-release”), this can now be done as soon as day 5 at the earliest. They are still required to retain proof of the test result that took them out of self-isolation early for at least a month and present it to the competent authority on request.
  • An official test (community testing or PCR test) is still required for test-to-release purposes in North Rhine-Westphalia, meaning that a self-test will not be sufficient.
  • Self-isolation will continue to end automatically after ten days if the test-to-release option is not made use of.
  • Contacts who are not themselves infected are now not required to isolate as a general principle. Instead, the advice issued by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) to reduce contacts is being adopted. If they develop symptoms within ten days of coming into contact with the person who has tested positive, they are obligated to get tested as soon as possible.
  • People who test positive are still required without delay to notify everyone that they can think of who had close personal contact with them in the two days before they took their test and while waiting for their test result. In line with the RKI’s recommendations, these will be those individuals who spent more than 10 minutes less than 1.5 meters apart from an infected person, where one or neither person was wearing a mask, or those who shared an unventilated or poorly ventilated space with an infected person for a prolonged period of time.
  • You are also strongly advised to report positive test results using the Corona-Warn-App.

If the public health authority orders home quarantine, affected employees receive pay in accordance with the Infection Prevention Act. The responsible Human Resources department must be notified. For an overview of quarantine regulations, see a chart from the state government.

Continuing pay benefit in quarantine

  • Vaccinated individuals and those who are not supposed to receive vaccination receive a continuing pay benefit in the full amount of their missed pay for up to six (6) weeks in total per year. The employer advances this benefit but the funds are reimbursed upon filing with the LVR. For week seven (7) and thereafter the benefit is calculated as 67% of missed pay (capped at € 2,016/month)
  • Unvaccinated individuals for whom the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends vaccination are ineligible to receive the employer benefit.
  • Proof of vaccination must be presented to HR in order to receive the continuing pay benefit.
  • These regulations do not apply to civil servants, who continue to be paid their salary (under special civil service rules).

Ordered quarantine during approved vacation leave

If a member of staff is ordered into quarantine by the public health authorities whilst on vacation leave, no further leave will be granted in lieu. If the member of staff affected in this way is able to present a medical certificate documenting illness at the time of the quarantine order, replacement leave may be granted. This is contingent upon the employee providing timely notification of illness. These regulations apply irrespective of lockdown periods.

The Robert Koch Institute confirms that persons with pre-existing health conditions are at greater risk of serious illness due to SARS-CoV-2 infection. This includes:

  • Heart conditions (e.g. coronary heart disease)
  • Lung conditions (e.g. asthma, chronic bronchitis)
  • Liver conditions (chronic liver diseases)
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • cancer
  • kidney disease
  • Disorders of the immune system (related to a weakened immune system or the taking of immunosuppressants such as such as cortisone).

Classification as vulnerable requires the submission of a medical certificate, which in some cases must be supplemented by an occupational health examination.

As an employer responsibility, the managers of individuals classified as vulnerable, i.e. who cannot receive vaccination for medical reasons (pre-existing conditions, risk factors), must pro-actively offer them the option of working from home where such is possible. Corresponding requests filed by such employees should be approved if accompanied by the corresponding certificates.

If working from home is not an option, the possibilities for safe on-site working must be studied in consultation with Occupational Safety and the organizational physician and documented accordingly in a risk assessment report. If assessment reveals that there is no such option, the employees in question must be released from work obligation, using up available flextime/flexible working hours and/or accrued overtime.

Once the existing time account credit balances have been used up, these members of staff are not legally deemed to be on leave. Instead, they have to be prepared to resume work immediately when required.

If safe on-site working is possible but due to the pandemic the commute to work poses a significant, objective health risk (despite wearing of face mask), or could pose such on the basis of a serious and objectively justified suspicion, because the employee has no usable car or car sharing opportunity (leaving only public transport available), the employee may refuse work performance as per § 275 para. 3 of German Civil Code (BGB), stating the corresponding reasons in writing. The employee forfeits entitlement to pay in such case.

Individuals for whom the above applies must notify Human Resources accordingly via official University communication channels.

The University has summarized all the relevant steps requisite to the safe response to suspected or known contacts with infected persons. This summary was outlined in Circular 71/2020 (Intranet). The appendix to the circular provides a schematic overview of the best response to such a situation.

The Federal Government COVID-19 Warning App

We recommend that students make use of the COVID-19 warning app provided by the German Federal Government. This enables you to find out whether you are at increased risk of developing an infection and at the same time, protect others.

Childcare and Private Travel

The current pandemic places considerable strain on the compatibility of family and career. This section provides guidance for cases in which you are required to perform childcare or travel for private reasons, and where you can find further help and assistance.

Childcare 

Where the closure of schools and other facilities present you with unavoidable childcare responsibilities, members of staff can consult with their supervisors to obtain their agreement to working from home or to establish flexible low-risk working hours (e.g. working in the early evening). Should it prove impossible to reach such arrangements, work time obligations can be compensated for through scheduling flexible working time / flex time or by using up accrued overtime or leave.

§ 45 para. 2a of Book V of German Social Code (SGB V) has been amended to allow parents—for the years 2021 and 2022 only—to apply with their statutory health insurer for child-related sick pay (Kinderkrankengeld) to cover childcare following the closure of schools and other facilities and/or the suspension of compulsory attendance at school. Parents with statutory health insurance can apply for 30 days of child-related sick pay per child in 2021 and 2022, capped at 65 days total for parents with more than one child. Single parents are entitled to 60 days of sick pay per child capped at 130 days total if they have more than one child. The benefit amount is approximately 90% of net pay, which is more than the compensation available under the Infection Prevention Act.

To be entitled to child-related sick pay, parents must hold statutory health insurance covering their child/children, which must be below age twelve. The legislation stipulates that these payments will only be granted if no other person lives in the applicant’s household who is able to perform childcare in the place of the parent/s.

Further information on childcare can be found in the handout below.

Quarantine on return from travel 

Due to the complex quarantine regulations, Human Resources Management has summarized the various regulations in a corresponding handout. Please also always check with the relevant authorities for the latest quarantine regulations.

Four children and an adult are sitting at low tables drawing pictures with colored pencils.
© Colourbox

Returning from Private Travel (last updated: February 3)

Persons returning from a region or country defined by the authorities as a virus mutation region for SARS-CoV-2 or any of its mutations as of the time they commenced travel are ineligible for release from work duties if they are unable to work from home during the period of isolation. Pay entitlement for the work days missed will be forfeited unless the work days are made up for otherwise.

It is incumbent upon members of staff to keep abreast of the latest travel regulations.

Further Information and Assistance

Human Resources

Please address any questions relating to employment law to your contact person in the Human Resources division. They will issue advice in the strictest of confidence.

The Office for Family Services at the University of Bonn

Are all childcare facilities and schools closed? Do you encounter problems with childcare? The Office for Family Services is happy to help.

International Members of Staff

International members of staff currently facing difficulties posed by the pandemic can turn to the International Office for advice and support.

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