Germans will get the legal right to work from home even when the coronavirus pandemic is over, Government minister reveals
- Hubertus Heil working on legislation to give employees right to work from home
- He said everyone who wants to and whose workplace allows it should be able to
- Minister’s statement comes as Germany’s confirmed cases rose 140 to 5,640
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Germans should be able to work from home even when the coronavirus pandemic is over, a Government minister has said.
Hubertus Heil is working on legislation to give employees the right to work from a home office once Covid-19 has passed, so long as their workplace permits it.
‘Everyone who wants to and whose workplace allows it should be able to work in a home office – even when the coronavirus pandemic is over,’ he told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
The minister’s statement comes as Germany’s coronavirus cases increased by 140 to 5,640, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases confirmed on Sunday.
German labour minister Hubertus Heil (pictured) is working on legislation to give employees the right to work in a home office once the Covid-19 virus has passed
With schools closed and many companies encouraging their employees to work from home to prevent the spread of coronavirus, around 25 per cent of Germans are now estimated to be working from home, up from 12 per cent normally.
Heil, a Social Democrat, said he would present legislation later in the year to anchor a right to home working in law, with employees allowed to work from home either permanently or for one or two days a week.
Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, also from the SPD, supported the idea, telling the paper: ‘The past weeks have shown how much is possible in the home office – this is a real achievement that we should not just abandon.’
However, the German Employers’ Association rejected it, telling Funke Media the last thing the economy needed at this time was more rules.
Katrin Goering-Eckardt, parliamentary leader of the opposition Greens, supported a right to home work but said it would only work if the government also guaranteed high-speed internet for all.
‘A home office or mobile working must always be voluntary and needs binding rules,’ she said in a statement.
‘Everyone who wants to and whose workplace allows it should be able to work in a home office – even when the coronavirus pandemic is over,’ he said
Pictured: German Minister Hubertus Heil (right) talks with German Health Minister Jens Spahn prior to the weekly cabinet meeting on April 22
‘Nobody should be forced to do it, and a home office should not lead to work becoming limitless.’
It comes as Germany’s foreign minister claimed an excess capacity in intensive care units and mass testing available to the population has been one of the main reasons the country has kept its Covid-19 death rate so low.
Andreas Michaelis said that while experts had criticised the government for its expenditure on high capacity intensive care, the German public were ‘very happy’ to have financed the extra provisions.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, the German minister also revealed that the country had 40,000 intensive care beds, 30,000 of which could be used with ventilators.
Mr Michaelis said: ‘We were lucky on the one hand and we probably did the right policy in the past.
‘There’s another factor and that’s the number of ICU’s so the intensive care units that are available in Germany which is a figure of 40,000, 30,000 of which can be used with ventilators and this is really a heritage of our health system.
Germany’s foreign minister Andreas Michaelis said the country had 40,000 intensive care beds, 30,000 of which could be used with ventilators
‘It’s almost the core factor of our health system which we developed and a lot of experts were criticising us for having too much capacity, too much expenditure – I think the people of Germany can now say that’s an extra capacity they are very happy to have financed in the past.’
The minister also explained that Germany had begun testing its population from the ‘very beginning’ and now had a testing capacity of 8000,000.
He continued: ‘We could test from the very beginning at relatively high levels we have now a test capacity reaching 800,000 of which we only performed 450,000 a week.
‘But we were able to test very early on, that is certainly an important aspect in this and we have to add to this that we suspect that in the initial phase of the crisis we had a relatively young age group that was affected so the number of fatalities were lower.’
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, the minister said while experts had criticised the government for its expenditure on high capacity intensive care, the German public were happy to have financed the policy
The Foreign Minister also said those who had symptoms of the virus or had come in contact with someone infected could ask the authorities to be tested
The Foreign Minister also explained that Germans could ask the authorities to be tested if they presented with the symptoms of Covid-19 or if they had come in contact with someone affected.
He said: ‘It’s a combination of things because people can address the authorities and ask to be tested if they feel that is necessary because either they have symptoms or they feel they have been in touch in contact with others that may have infected them. So the number of tests that are being carried out is relatively high as I’ve described it.
‘If we have outbreaks certainly the authorities go into it and then offer the test capability.’
During the interview, Mr Michaelis said the first steps of lifting Germany’s lockdown was to send certain age groups of children back to school, and to allow non-essential shops to open as long as they are not larger than 800sqm.
He also said that Germany was considering phone tracking apps, but said it was unlikely to happen before June.
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