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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Labor law: Federal Labor Court: Hardly any lawsuits despite the extreme Corona situation

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The pandemic has changed the everyday work of millions of people within a few weeks – and without much dispute. A feared wave of lawsuits did not materialize in Germany. does it stay that way

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The Federal Labor Court dealt with the pandemic with short-time work, home office, testing, mask and isolation requirements last year – but the feared flood of legal disputes did not materialize. “There have been no major waves of lawsuits,” said the President of the Federal Labor Court, Inken Gallner, of the German Press Agency in Erfurt. You also have no signals from the labor courts that this will change this year.

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“Obviously, employees and employers reacted very well to the corona pandemic and found practicable solutions in this extreme situation,” said Gallner, who has been at the head of Germany’s highest labor court for almost a year. “The social and company partnership seem to have worked well during the crisis.” In most cases, a legal dispute through the instances was waived.

Unproblematic move to the home office

In addition, the special short-time work and insolvency regulations during the pandemic ensured that there were no mass layoffs and many lawsuits for protection against unfair dismissal. The move of tens of thousands of employees to the home office and the accelerated digitization of work processes were apparently carried out relatively unproblematically.

“The home office experiences have changed the ideas about compulsory presence that existed in the past,” said Gallner. This has an impact on everyday work even after the pandemic, as does the increasing digitization of work, which has so far concerned the labor courts less than expected. “More often it is about data protection. The Federal Labor Court will continue to deal with the position of data protection officers. We have also submitted legal questions to the European Court of Justice.”

Basic decisions on labor law problems

Some labor law problems that arose during the pandemic have now been decided in principle, said Gallner. This applies, among other things, to the question of whether employers can prescribe corona tests for their employees. In the case of an orchestra musician from Munich, the judges agreed – the test obligation must be proportionate and weigh the interests of both sides. The judgment remains up to date if the corona infections increase drastically again. It was also decided by the highest court that corona premiums should not be seized.

But it was also about returnees from corona risk areas – a judgment that is still relevant with regard to the situation in China. According to this, employers must continue to pay their employees if they issue stricter quarantine rules than those required by the authorities. The federal labor judges submitted another case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ): It is about whether vacation that has already been approved must be credited in the event of a sudden corona quarantine.

Source: Stern

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