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.


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.
© Universität Bonn/ Volker Lannert

Working

The University management has decided that members of staff should work from home as a matter of preference, unless the nature of their work makes their on-site presence a clear necessity.

If the exigencies of the pandemic preclude members of staff either from working from home in suitable form or on the University premises (full or part-time), these employees must be released from the corresponding work obligations. In such case, existing time account credit balances (accrued overtime and other extra hours or positive flextime blocks) are to be used up accordingly.

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. Those affected are to notify the responsible Human Resources department accordingly; no form is required.

Members of staff who perform their regular day-to-day work from home, either wholly or in part, will have their contractually agreed standard work hours applied as minimum for time accounting purposes. Members of staff can be required to perform additional working hours within the statutory limits of employment law in order to complete their tasks. These hours are to be documented correctly. Time spent commuting between home and the workplace is not considered as working time.

To work from home from any foreign country (EU or non-EU) it is mandatory to first contact your Human Resources office via the approved communication channels. This is because international remote working entails social security and tax issues that could affect you, thus reviewing of your situation is required.

In the event that infection numbers worsen, the government could impose a stay-home order. In such a case, only essential workers will be permitted to enter University buildings or campus areas. The University will issue essential workers with authorization documents, which are to be kept on their person for identification purposes. An example is shown here3.

Please note that beginning in the course of next week, medical masks (not FFP2 masks!) will be supplied by Kurt Müller GmbH instead of Lyreco. Kurt Müller also has an integrated SRM shop in which you can order medical masks using item number N12359G. The minimum order is 10 boxes with 50 masks each. Once ordering of medical masks via Lyreco is no longer possible, the transition to Kurt Müller has been completed.

Once this is the case, please place your orders with Kurt Müller. In light of recent events, please note the following regarding the handling of invoices: Invoices for medical masks should be handled like any other invoice, i.e. validated as correct and forwarded along with an item entry sheet to External Accounting.

Mouth and nose covers must be worn at the University of Bonn irrespective of whether minimum distance is kept or not. Please refer to the applicable individual hygiene and protection concepts for additional regulations available on the corona-related sections of the University website. Where persons do not wear mouth and nose covers due to medical reasons, a medical certificate is required as proof and a protective shield covering the entire face must be worn instead.

Use your mask also on your way home and dispose of it in your household waste. If you do not use the mask on your way home, please dispose of it only in the marked waste containers.

The Human Resources division at the University of Bonn has collected all the important information relating to human resources law in terms of the impact of lockdown on working practices at the University. The information focuses on: working from home, apprentices, childcare, vulnerability due to underlying health conditions, business travel, entering the state of NRW and official regulations relating to quarantine. Learn more2

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 being high-risk. Following the identification of mutations of the Coronavirus, the government has also designated certain areas as “virus mutation regions”.
Members of staff have the right to refuse to travel to a region or country designated by the authorities (The German Federal Foreign Office or the Robert Koch Institute) as a high-risk area for which an official travel warning has been issued. The University cannot expect its staff to work under circumstances that pose a substantial risk to their health. This principle applies to travel to a high-risk area.

Please consult the information provided in Circular No. 92/2020 (Intranet).

Opening of University buildingsThe opening hours of student-relevant areas of the main building and of the AVZ III building will be extended as of March 22, 2021. The new hours will be 8 am to 6 pm. The main building can only be accessed via the following entrances: Tor Arkadenhof, the entrance at the Acquisitions section and the entrance to the corridor of the cafeteria and the entrance to the Etscheidhof with access to Lecture hall 1.The opening hours of decentrally administered buildings are to be set by the respective responsible managing directors or other managers.

The University parking management system was reactivated on October 1, 2020. This means that those wishing to park their car on a University site must display a valid parking permit or ticket. Further information is available in Circular 70/2020 (Intranet).


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

Following the first amendment to the Coronavirus Vaccination Ordinance dating April 30, university staff are now among the occupational groups for which the German government has agreed prioritized vaccination entitlement (priority group 3 out of 3). However, individual states are in charge of prioritizing within this group:

Currently the first amendment to the Coronavirus Vaccination Ordinance does not have immediate impact on university staff living in North Rhine-Westphalia. We will notify you via distribution of a circular and the coronavirus-related sections of the University website as soon as the state of North Rhine-Westphalia confirms registrations are possible. To prepare for all eventualities, and without requests to do so being necessary, the University will send an informal employer’s confirmation to your home address in the coming days. However, whether vaccination centers and general practitioners accept this confirmation is still to be confirmed. Please note that as a holder of the confirmation you are therefore not automatically entitled to get vaccinated immediately!

In the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, however, priority group 3 has been able to register for vaccinations since April 23, 2021. According to § 4 para. 1 nr. 4b CoronaImpfV, University of Bonn staff also belong to this group, including all technical and administrative staff and other staff members.

Any staff living in Rhineland-Palatinate who wish to make use of this offer must, according to § 6 para. 4 nr. 2 CoronaImpfV, present a relevant form. Please complete the document, available  at the following link6 and send it to the responsible contact at Human Resources for signing and stamping. You will need to bring the document along to your vaccination appointment.

To overcome this pandemic, it is essential that each member of society shows solidarity and fully cooperates. As time slots for vaccinations are not allocated through the University, staff may attend vaccination appointments during working hours. The period of absence, however, does not count as time spent working. Please inform your line manager of your absence accordingly.

As of Thursday, April 29, 2021, there are two coronavirus rapid testing centers located on University premises. In cooperation with an external service provider, testing stations have been set up in the main building and in Poppelsdorf offering tests for employees.

City Campus:
“Blaue Grotte”, main building: Monday to Saturday: 9:00 am – 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm

  • Booking link for employees: to be announced via intranet8

Poppelsdorf Campus:
CP1, Friedrich-Hirzebruch-Allee 5: Monday to Friday: 7:00 am – 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm

The detailed regulations can be found in Circular 41/2021109.

Antigen self-testing kits

The state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is now providing the University with coronavirus antigen self-testing kits. Employees whose presence at the University is urgently required will initially be supplied with 10 self-testing kits for use at home via their institute or department. This is to facilitate use of one self-testing kit per week in addition to the ongoing possibility of taking a so-called citizen test in a rapid testing center.

Testing kits will be sent to the deans’ offices for further distribution to the institutes. Staff in the central administration will be supplied through their division. Institutes that cannot be supplied through the deans’ offices are asked to please request testing kits from the Occupational and Environmental Safety Unit. Further details can be found in Circular 35/20211110886.

Here you will find the instructions1211997 for using the tests and a video131210108 from the manufacturer with instructions for use.

Please note that coronavirus tests are an addition to the existing protective measures. They do not replace other safety precautions! Adhering to hygiene and protective measures will remain absolutely necessary!

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 Robert Koch Institute (RKI) confirms that persons with underlying health conditions are at greater risk of serious illness following infection with SARS-CoV-2. This includes:

  • Heart conditions (e.g. coronary heart disease)
  • Lung conditions (e.g. asthma, chronic bronchitis)
  • Liver conditions (chronic liver diseases)
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Cancer
  • 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. Further information about the employment law consequences conferred by such a status is provided in the handout from the Human Resources division.

To expedite contact tracing, we request that members of staff note all contacts which they have on the University premises and store these records for a period of four weeks. The Corona Protection Ordinance of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (CoronaSchVO NRW) stipulates that such records should comprise the name, address and phone number of contacts. If contacts with various people overlapped, the record should state the duration of the contact, i.e. the time of arrival and departure of each person in the office. A template form for members of staff and a template form for on-site examinations (ger/eng) with which to record contacts have been provided for this purpose. Details of the ordinance are provided in Circular 39/2020.

Should the health authorities order that a member of staff enter quarantine in their home, the individual concerned is to inform the responsible department of the Human Resources division through official channels, as to whether they are able to continue with their work from home. If they are able to do so, normal remuneration will continue.

If the quarantine is accompanied by illness, the member of staff is to report this through the usual channels. They may be required to submit a medical certificate. In this case, remuneration will be paid in accordance with the specifications of the relevant legal provisions (Entgeltfortzahlungsgesetz).

Notification can be submitted using the document for Coronavirus-related absence. The payment of remuneration will also be subject to the regulations of the Infection Prevention Act (Infektionsschutzgesetz).

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 (see Vacation Leave Policy Guide). These regulations apply irrespective of lockdown periods.

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 (updated: February 9)

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 updated to permit parents to apply to their statutory health insurer for sick pay for children (Kinderkrankengeld) to cover childcare following the closure of schools and other facilities and/or the suspension of compulsory attendance at school. This measure is restricted to 2021. Any parent with statutory health insurance cover can apply for 20 days of sick pay per child in 2021, capped at a total of 45 days for parents with more than one child. Single parents are entitled to 40 days of sick pay per child capped at a total of 90 days with more than one child. Sick pay is paid at approximately 90% of net salary, which is more favorable than the compensation available under the Infection Prevention Act.

This entitlement to sick pay for childcare duties is only held by parents covered by a statutory health insurance policy that also covers their child/children. This only applies to children under the age of 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 details are available in a handout issued by the Human Resources division. It also outlines the current regulations applicable to civil servants and holders of private insurance.

Entering NRW (last updated: February 9)

The latest version of the Ordinance Regarding Entry of the State of NRW during the Covid-19 pandemic from January 15, 2021 stipulates that individuals arriving in the state of NRW from a location declared to be a virus mutation region are required to self-isolate for a period of ten days.

A Coronavirus (Covid-19) test can be taken after a minimum waiting period of five days from the date of arrival. Should this test be negative, the person concerned can leave quarantine early. Those wishing to leave quarantine are required to submit a medical certificate to the public health authorities stating the test result. This certificate must be retained for a period of ten days.

If a person who has recently returned to the state of NRW from a location declared to be a virus mutation region presents symptoms consistent with an infection with Coronavirus within ten days of arrival, they are required to undergo testing for Covid-19. An overview of virus mutation regions can be found on the RKI website.

Persons arriving in the state of NRW from a high-risk area not recognized as a virus mutation region are required to self-isolate for a ten-day period, unless they are able to submit a negative result from a Coronavirus (Covid-19) test taken within 48 hours prior to or immediately after arrival. This self-isolation period can be ended following a negative result from a Coronavirus (Covid-19) test. In such cases, the test may be performed at any time during the period of self-isolation. The RKI defines which areas are designated as high-risk.

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

Returning from Private Travel (last updated: September 2)

Persons returning from a region or country which the authorities defined as being a high-risk area for SARS-CoV-2 or any of its mutations, at the point at which they commenced their travel, cannot be released from their duties, even if they are unable to work from home. Pay entitlement for the work days missed will be forfeited unless otherwise compensated.

Employees returning from such travel who test positive for SARS-CoV-2 or any of its mutations may also forfeit entitlement to sick pay on grounds of being at fault for falling ill.

Please note that those entering Germany may be required to file digital notification of entry. 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.

Learn more1715119

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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