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Corona quarantine: Employees should know that
The corona virus has a firm grip on Germany, and the number of infected people is increasing. In addition, more and more people have to be quarantined. But what effects does this actually have for employees?
The new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is easily transferable. In order to prevent further spread of the virus-induced disease COVID-19, quarantine can be ordered for infected and suspected cases. But what does that mean? Can people be forced to stay at home? And do employees continue to receive salary? The AOK clarifies the most important questions on its website.
Who needs to be in quarantine?
According to the health insurance company, a quarantine is currently being ordered for everyone who is acutely at risk of being infected with the novel coronavirus or who is actually infected.
For example, someone who has spoken face to face with an infected person for at least 15 minutes is considered at risk.
Even those who sat in the cinema or airplane near a person affected by COVID 19, or who was even coughed up or sneezed by an infected person, are classified by the authorities as endangered.
What does a quarantine contain?
As the AOK explains, quarantine means the temporary isolation of people who are infected or suspected of being infected with an infectious disease. This is to prevent the further spread of the infectious disease.
This isolation is currently enforced in most cases as a so-called domestic quarantine. This means that the patient must not leave their own four walls and should avoid contact with any flat mates until the risk of infection is over.
Because the incubation period of the novel coronavirus (pathogen: SARS-CoV-2) is up to 14 days according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), domestic quarantine is also scheduled for this period.
During quarantine, those affected have to measure fever twice a day, as well as keep a diary of possible symptoms, body temperature and any contact with other people.
Necessary things to do outside of one's own accommodation, such as shopping, dealing with the authorities, etc. have to be postponed or taken over by friends, family or other people, depending on the urgency. However, there must be no direct contact with the person in quarantine. For example, purchases would have to be parked in front of the door.
Important to know: A quarantine due to infection or suspected infection with the pathogen SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus) is covered by the Infection Protection Act. The employer must be informed immediately of the quarantine ordered.
If a coronavirus infection leads to inability to work, a medical certificate of incapacity for work must be requested from the doctor. This must then be sent to the employer and the health insurance company immediately.
Can an order be made against your own will?
A quarantine can also be ordered against your own will. This is regulated by the German Infection Protection Act (IfSG).
Accordingly, basic rights and thus also the right of human freedom can be restricted to prevent the spread of certain infectious diseases. In most cases, the state health offices are responsible.
Violation of the ordered quarantine can be severely punished. According to the health insurance company, a high fine or even up to two years' imprisonment is possible.
The health authority is responsible for enforcing the quarantine and carries out corresponding checks together with the police.
Are there still wages?
Will I continue to receive my wages as a quarantine worker? Yes. If an employee cannot appear at the workplace due to quarantine measures, the Infection Protection Act applies.
This law stipulates that employers must continue to pay those affected in full for up to six weeks. Upon request, employers can have these wage costs reimbursed by the competent authority.
What if the employer prescribes a break?
Some employers choose to close their offices due to the existing risk of the corona virus spreading within their company.
Such a measure is intended to reduce the risk of infection for everyone, especially if there are already several employees who have apparently become infected or if there is an increased number of confirmed infections in the region of the company.
If such a precautionary measure is taken, the employer is obliged to continue paying the salaries. According to the German Civil Code (BGB) one speaks of a so-called delay in acceptance if the employer does not call up the workforce of its employees.
If so, workers can stay away from work without fear of consequences.
Who pays the salary?
In the event of an ordered quarantine due to Covid 19 infection or suspected infection, the employee will continue to receive remuneration from the employer for a maximum of six weeks.
If an infection with the new type of corona virus actually occurs, there is a normal illness under labor law. This means that the usual rules for continued payment in the event of illness also apply.
The employer continues to pay wages for the first six weeks of incapacity to work, after which the health insurance pays the so-called sickness benefit.
Telephone sick leave for colds
On March 9, a special regulation on sick leave came into force.
Since then, patients with mild diseases of the upper respiratory tract have been able to receive a certificate of incapacity for work (AU) after a maximum of seven days after consulting their doctor. You don't have to go to the doctor's office for this.
The health card also does not have to be presented - it is sufficient to provide the insured data by telephone and verbally confirm membership in a health insurance company. For people who are already known to the practice, the data is taken from the patient file.
The regulation applies to people who suffer from mild diseases of the upper respiratory tract and who do not have any severe symptoms. It does not apply to those whose complaints meet the RKI criteria for suspected infection with Covid-19.
According to the information, this agreement is initially valid for four weeks. It can be extended if the current exceptional situation persists.
If you have a reasonable suspicion of a coronavirus infection, you should still call a doctor or the health department.
Can you stay at home with the child if the daycare or school closes due to suspected coronavirus? In such cases, as the health insurer explains, parents are obliged to look for other childcare options.
However, if no alternative is available, a parent is legally entitled to a paid leave of absence in accordance with § 616 BGB. How long this right to remuneration is maintained depends on the individual case. As a rule, however, it does not last longer than five to ten days.
Different regulations in the employment or collective agreement can exclude this claim, but in an emergency, such as a school closure due to suspected coronavirus, the AOK then still has the right to unpaid leave.
In any case, the employer must be informed immediately that the employee cannot come to work.
Do health insurance companies pay for a coronavirus test?
According to a new cost regulation by the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV), statutory health insurance companies have been testing the coronavirus since the beginning of March whenever it has been ordered by the treating doctor.
Such a test is particularly advisable if the patient has had direct contact with an infected person or has been in a risk area or in a region with COVID-19 patients within the past 14 days.
And even if there are clinical or radiological indications of viral pneumonia without alternative diagnosis and without a detectable risk, the RKI advises a test.
The doctor can make the decision independently of this - the health insurance company takes over the service. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- AOK: Coronavirus: Effects on workers, (access: March 16, 2020), AOK