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Information for Employees of Heidelberg University Regarding the Coronavirus

Arrangements in connection with the coronavirus from 27 May 2020

for civil servants and employees

Status: 27 May 2020

Since 20 April 2020 Heidelberg University has moved into on-campus operations, coordinated between the Rectorate and Staff Council. This means that personnel can be physically present in the three main areas of university activity – research, study/teaching and services/administration – subject to certain rules.

These three areas have resumed their activities subject to the general framework conditions relative to occupational safety and hygiene. The aim is for all employees to do their work as well as possible in the present conditions, with a maximum of safety for all staff. The heads of facilities/institutes are taking the responsibility for implementing the necessary arrangements. In all areas of the university, the competent persons are drawing up corona risk assessments, if necessary in cooperation with the Occupational Safety Department.

Occupational safety equipment is provided as soon as possible, in keeping with individual needs.

Besides on-campus work there will continue to be different working models (e.g. home office) in order to cover the workloads. Relevant arrangements are being continually examined and updated by the Human Resources Division in close consultation with the Staff Council.

Due to the rapid changes in the news and instructions, this information is being constantly adapted to the latest situation.

 

Arrangements:

Options for release from duties

Reducing personal working hours

Flextime days (for institutes/facilities with flextime set-ups)

Annual leave

Working hours and recording hours worked

Temporary home office

Childcare

Care for close relatives

Employees with a higher risk of a serious progression of COVID-19

On-campus work

 

Additional arrangements for contact with the coronavirus or "suspicious cases":

Dealing With Inability to Work in general

Business Trips

Planned Private Trips

Home Office and Release From Duties in the Event of Quarantine

 

Options for release from duties 

Status: 27 May 2020

In principle there is no entitlement to release from duties on continued pay. 

The following are simple ways of taking leave of absence at short notice:

  • Reducing your time credit
  • Taking annual leave or the leave remaining from the previous year
  • Taking special leave without continued pay

All three variations require approval from supervisors; by way of exception, this can be obtained by email if it is not possible otherwise, and the usual procedure can be made up for later. The supervisor must approve the absence in advance.

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Reducing personal working hours

Status: 17 April 2020

In addition, it is possible to temporarily reduce agreed working hours at short notice, in consultation with the supervisor. Send an informal application via official channels to the Human Resources Division. Civil servants can also use the valid application form for part- time work.

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Flextime days (for facilities/institutes with flextime set-ups)

Status: 17 April 2020

The planned and approved flextime days must go ahead.

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Annual leave

Status: 17 April 2020

For organisational reasons we must avoid a situation where, after the suspension of the current travel restrictions and a (partial) beginning of the research and degree-related operations, all employees want to take their annual leave immediately. Consequently, all facilities should organise a leave planner covering the whole year in coordination with the staff.

In particular, any still open (i.e. not yet applied for) leave remaining from 2019 must be largely taken in the period from May to July 2020, as far as work considerations permit.

In principle, there is no entitlement to cancel leave that has already been approved.

Leave remaining from 2019 must be taken by 30 September 2020.

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Working hours and recording hours worked

Status: 17 April 2020

As of 20 April 2020 the usual individual work time records will be kept, but in a more flexible way. If more or fewer hours are worked they can be offset. In this regard, the existing service agreements on settling working hours have been supplemented in agreement with the Staff Council for the current coronavirus pandemic phase:

  • There will be no work time frame
    In order to cut down on people having to meet or pass each other, there will be no work time frame for the period until 30 September 2020. Supervisors are expected to respect the work time law and the working hours and leave ordinance of the State of Baden-Württemberg, in particular regarding rest periods. The extending of the work time frame should not lead to the accumulation of flextime hours; presence in the ‘extended’ frame is exclusively voluntary.
  • Flexible working hours
    Flextime will be possible in areas with fixed working hours or divergent fixed working hours.
  • Plus and minus hours
    Minus hours will be possible up to 2.5 times the weekly working hours, without supervisors needing to take further action.

Employees with electronic time recording
During temporary home office work, limited to 30 September 2020, coming-and-going bookings can be made directly via the web-login online. Those whose web-login has not yet been activated, must note their hours worked and catch up the record through an application to change the times.

Employees without electronic time recording
For all those who do not take part in electronic time recording, there is a form for time recording. This must be presented to the supervisor and kept there.

For employees with flexible working hours 
On application by the employees, overtime from a previous settlement period for which there was still no capping can be transferred subsequently to the current settlement period applicable to the facilities. Be careful to reduce overtime if possible by the end of the current settlement period so that it does not amount to more than a week’s working time.

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Temporary home office

Status: 17 April 2020

Temporary home office is a special form of telework that can be used for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. The arrangements apply initially until 30 September 2020.

Permission to work in a temporary home office is being granted as generously as possible and after careful assessment by the respective area supervisors. Until further notice, approval of home office by the Human Resources Division is not required; the supervisor merely has to notify the Human Resources Division on the available form for temporary home office work. A combination of working from home and on campus is, of course, possible.

Those in risk groups (RKI guidelines), employees with care obligations for children or relatives and expectant mothers must be given preference for temporary home office status.  Belonging to a risk group due to prior illness must be confirmed by a doctor and assurance must be given of the case of care for children or relatives (see also form for temporary home office).

Restricted access to Heidelberg University’s IT and data systems may be set up in individual cases. The supervisor must consult the University Computing Centre in each case. (IT-Support: Tel. +49 6221 54-117; re: “Temporary home office” or competent IT officer in the facility). If telework has already been approved this can be used to the full.

Availability during the home office work must be settled and guaranteed in consultation with the supervisor. Technical aids such as connecting the office telephone to the private telephone should be used. The employees are obliged to respect the valid data protection and data security regulations.

Employees in temporary home office will also be covered by statutory accident insurance while doing their university work from home.

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Special options for release from duties

Status: 27 May 2020

The possibility of total or partial release from duties on continued full pay for the purpose of childcare was based on a letter from the Baden-Württemberg interior ministry and finance ministry. This option ends as of 29 May 2020 and will not be extended.

As far as compatible with their duties, priority should be given to enabling staff to work from home on a temporary basis.

Childcare

Status: 25 May 2020

Release from duties for childcare

As decided by the State of Baden-Württemberg, childcare centres and schools are being reopened step by step.

If staff need to keep looking after their children themselves because no other childcare is available and they cannot perform their work in a temporary home office or on campus, they can use their time credit and (remaining) annual leave (if any). Their respective supervisors are urged to give preference to these applications for work-time offset or annual leave, and to meet the wishes of the employees as long as no work-related reasons stand in the way of this.

In cases of particular hardship (e.g. single parents with no possibility of childcare) the Human Resources Division can, until further notice, grant release from duties on continued pay as long as the workers concerned have neither a positive work-time credit nor remaining annual leave from 2019 or earlier. Work-related reasons must not stand in the way of this. Proof of the circumstances justifying the case of hardship as well as the lack of available child care must be provided for the office. In this regard, employees or their respective supervisors can approach the administrative assistant responsible in Human Resources.

The option of unpaid release from duties or special leave without pay remains, as long as work considerations so permit.

 

Compensation claim according to the Infection Protection Act in the event of unpaid leave of absence

Employees who by necessity have to care for their children themselves due to the closure of schools or childcare facilities, and thereby suffer a loss of earnings, have a statutory claim to compensation under §56(1a) Infection Protection Act (IfSG). This compensation currently amounts to 67% of the loss of ensuing earnings, at most €2,016 per month for a (current) maximum of 6 weeks. Before the compensation claim can be met, priority should be given to positive work-time credit and annual leave remaining from 2019 and earlier. No statutory compensation is provided for the time in which schools or childcare facilities are closed (for regular holidays).

The form to arrange leave of absence must be used for the time being to apply for unpaid leave and for a compensation payment. The university expects further indications shortly on the procedure and application of §56(1a) IfSG by the finance ministry. Consequently it may become necessary to adapt the procedure once again.

For civil servants there is no entitlement to compensation under §56(1a) IfSG.

 

Confirmation of emergency care

On the basis of the Ordinance of the State Government on Infection Protection Measures against the Spread of the Virus SARS-Cov-2 (Corona Ordinance) activities at schools are partly prohibited until 14 June 2020. Activities at childcare facilities remain prohibited until 14 June 2020. An “extended emergency care” is possible as long as both parents or guardians or the single parent

  • work in areas of critical infrastructure, or
  • have a job requiring physical presence away from home

and

  • cannot leave their workplace, and
  • are prevented from providing the childcare by their professional activity.

The decision on allowing such expanded emergency care is taken by the local authority in which the childcare centre is located. The emergency care generally takes place in the same centre that the child has attended so far.

If the prerequisites for emergency care exist, apply for confirmation by Heidelberg University on the form for necessary work indispensability. The confirmation is issued centrally by the Human Resources Division.

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Care for close relatives

Status: 27 May 2020

The possibility of total or partial release from duties on continued pay to care for relatives requiring care was based on a letter from the Baden-Württemberg interior ministry and finance ministry. This option ends as of 29 May 2020 and will not be extended.
As far as compatible with their duties, priority should be given to enabling employees to temporarily work from home. There is still the option of using a positive work-time credit and remaining annual leave. The provisions of the Home Care Leave Act or §74 Baden-Württemberg Civil Servant Act likewise apply.

There is no claim to compensation under §56(1a) Infection Protection Act.

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Employees with a greater risk of a serious progression of COVID-19 (risk group)

Status: 8 May 2020

Special importance is attributed to the mutual obligation for care or consideration between employer and staff when it comes to persons at greater risk of a serious progression of COVID-19 (risk groups) according to the recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute.

For this purpose, the supervisor must draw up an individual risk assessment. This will guarantee that the virus infection is handled extremely carefully and conscientiously, hygiene measures are observed and infection risks are minimised, in order to create a work environment that is as infection-free as possible. This also includes checking on home office options or on the possibility of reorganising work in individual areas.

If, despite taking advantage of all acceptable measures, allowing a person to continue performing their work cannot exclude an irresponsibly increased risk, the Human Resources Division will consider the matter. In consultation with the employees concerned, their respective supervisors, the Staff Council and, as appropriate, the in-house medical service and Occupational Safety Department, it will decide on a temporary, necessary (partial) release from duties in individual cases. An informal application should be made to the responsible administrative assistant in the Human Resources Division. The specific application must be accompanied by a doctor’s certificate that the person belongs to a risk group.

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On-campus work

Status: 17 April 2020

It is not always possible to avoid running across people when working on campus; however, personal contacts should be reduced to the most necessary. The university leadership therefore requests everyone to observe general hygiene rules ("The Top Ten Hygiene Tips"; "Hand hygiene and skin protection") and to respect the following protective measures (not exhaustive):

  • Keep a minimum distance of 1.5 m from other persons, also in corridors and, particularly, in lifts
  • Avoid having several people working in offices, e.g. a rotating system can be introduced so that half the employees alternate at a workplace during the day, for several days or weekly. In offices the possibility of work from home should be used wherever possible.
  • Only allow more than one staff person to work in the office subject to the distancing rule and a reliable plan for airing the room.
  • Reduce the use of everyday objects by several persons to a minimum (e.g. communal office equipment, laboratory devices, machinery); shared work instruments must be cleaned at regular intervals.
  • Spend breaks in your own office as far as possible, avoiding common rooms. Respect distance rules in the common room (e.g. with rotating presence, not sitting opposite). Safe methods for taking a break must be created for people without their own office, taking account of occupational safety regulations.
  • Hold discussions primarily as video conferences, conference calls
  • Observe the urgent recommendation to wear a mask covering the nose and mouth if the distance rules cannot be safely kept (the RKI gives assistance on handling).
  • Air work areas regularly (as far as possible)  
  • Limit access to buildings to those entitled to enter
  • Install a protective barrier (spit protection), particularly at workplaces with regular visitor contact
  • Display Information on hand hygiene in washrooms
  • Limit interaction of working groups and departments to what is absolutely essential
  • Facilities/departments must ensure that their employees are correctly initiated into the use of safety equipment.

If no protective equipment such as masks can be made available, the general legal conditions, e.g. minimum distances etc., must be strictly implemented. In addition, all facilities are requested to find practicable solutions – also in cooperation with Department 3.3 Occupational Safety (Dr Markus Hoffmann) and the Biological Safety Unit (Dr Ingo Janausch, Dr Susanne Ficht-Redmer). In all areas of the university, the competent persons are drawing up corona risk assessments, if necessary in cooperation with the Occupational Safety Department:
sicherheit@zuv.uni-heidelberg.de

You will find the following important documents on the page of the Occupational Safety Department on safe working in the Corona pandemic:

  1. hygiene concept of Heidelberg University
  2. risk assessment Corona
  3. guidance on how to set up workplaces safely

If you or your special situation is not covered by the above arrangements, or you cannot achieve agreement, you are welcome to confidentially approach the Human Resources Department or the Staff Council.

“The way to work”

If employees are concerned about a possible risk of infection and want to avoid commuting to work by public transport, they must clarify with their supervisors to what extent they can take leave or offset their working time, or – as far as possible – temporarily work from home. On the application of the employees, special leave without pay may be granted after consideration of work-related interests.

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Additional arrangements for contact with the coronavirus or "suspicious cases":

Dealing With Inability to Work in General

Generally speaking, people who at the moment develop symptoms, regardless of prior travel, should stay at home and recover from the illness. In this exceptional situation, employees at Heidelberg University may submit doctor’s certificates confirming their inability to work later than usual, i.e. waiting until they return to the institute or office. They are duty-bound to give immediate notification of the illness by phone or email. If medical assistance is needed, they must first contact the doctor’s office by phone, possibly referring to prior travel, then go there by appointment and let their supervisor know.

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Business Trips

Status: 27 May 2020

Travel inside and outside of risk areas must still be reduced to the necessary amount, based on work-related interests. The institutes/facilities decide themselves whether a business trip can be approved. Legal provisions at the local level and during the trip must be observed, and approval must be obtained in advance. If university events – of whatever kind – are held outside the university, they are subject to hygiene and distance rules according to the current Baden-Württemberg coronavirus ordinance unless there are stricter requirements at the local level, in which case the latter will apply.

Business trips to European countries and other international destinations are not possible as long as the Federal Foreign Office has announced a travel warning for these countries. If the travel warnings have been lifted, the above-mentioned rules for trips inside Germany apply in the same way. This applies to students, doctoral students, employees and researchers, as well as visiting scholars.

Entering or returning to Germany is subject to the Ordinance of the Ministry of Social Affairs on Quarantine for Travellers Entering and Returning in order to Contain the Virus SARS-Cov-2 (Corona Ordinance EQ – entry quarantine) in the applicable version. In addition, attention must, on principle, be paid to the latest advice of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the Travel and safety advice from the Federal Foreign Office.

All travellers coming from – or having stayed in the preceding 14 days – outside the group of states named in Corona Ordinance EQ (European Union member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), must go into quarantine at home for two weeks. In addition, in the case of employees, supervisors must notify the Human Resources Division (Forms: “Notification of quarantine ordered by a public authority” and “Notification of return to work”).

 

Costs when cancelling journeys

Financial risks must be reduced to a minimum at the planning stage for budgetary considerations. This must be observed both when planning and booking the future trip (e.g. flexi-tickets) but also when carrying out the cancellation.

Should you need to withdraw from a trip that has already been approved and booked, you can obtain a reimbursement for unavoidable cancellation fees. If the office classifies a journey outside the listed risk areas as particularly critical – after weighing up all points of view – and therefore cancels or terminates it, the necessary cancellation fees can likewise be reimbursed. The application should be made using the “normal” travel expense procedure. This also applies to the repayment of an advance or direct payment made before the trip. The supervisor must record the reasons for cancelling the trip and add them to the travel expense statement.

At present no central funds are available to finance cancellation costs and so they would have to be covered by the institute/facility – possibly from third-party or project funds.

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Planned Private Trips

Status: 8 May 2020

Attention is drawn to the Travel and safety advice from the Federal Foreign Office, which strongly advises against unnecessary tourist trips abroad.
The latest version of the Ordinance of the Ministry of Social Affairs on Quarantine for Travellers Entering and Returning in order to Contain the Virus SARS-Cov-2 (Corona Ordinance EQ) also applies to those entering or returning to Germany after private trips.

Persons who make private trips to one of the regions that have already been declared risk areas before journey begins have no claim to continued payment of their salary for the two weeks in which they are to remain at home after their return and cannot work from a home office.

In order to avoid loss of earnings, they can use positive flextime credit, take annual leave or apply for unpaid release from duties.

If a loss of earnings ensues because employees cannot perform their work on their return from a trip – not even in a home office – they will receive compensation under §56 IfSG. However, disregarding the above-mentioned travel warning may lead to a situation where this cannot be granted because the employee could have avoided the quarantine on their own responsibility by heeding this warning against travel.

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Home Office and Release From Duties in the Event of Quarantine

Status: 27 May 2020

Employees who have had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient within the past 14 days, must immediately contact the local health authority responsible. This is obligatory in every instance – regardless of whether symptoms have appeared or not. Furthermore, in these cases employees must immediately inform their institute/facility if they contract symptoms and likewise of the result of a corona test taken on grounds of suspicion.

Independently of symptoms, employees who have had contact in the past 14 days with patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, or live in the same household with a relative who has, or is suspected of having been infected by the coronavirus, when there is a risk of infection according to a doctor’s certificate, must stay away from work until a doctor certifies that a further spread of the coronavirus is no longer to be feared. They then have to submit a medical certificate to that effect.

If employees have to stay away from work after contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient, or due to a required period of quarantine, they should be enabled – after consulting with their respective supervisors – to work from home for the duration of the quarantine.

For the staff concerned, a home office can be established after consultation with their respective supervisor. For this purpose, a reduced access from home to the Heidelberg University IT and data system may be set up in the context of a “temporary home office“. The supervisor must consult the University Computing Centre in each case (IT Support: tel. +49 6221 54-117; re: “Temporary home office”). If telework has already been approved, it can be used to the full.

Should neither option be practicable, a release from duties on continued full pay may follow.

The supervisor must inform the Human Resources Division about the respective measures (forms: “Notification of quarantine ordered by a public authority”, “Notification of return to work”, “Form on temporary work from home”.

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Further arrangements for employees

If employees, due to measures under the Infection Protection Act (IfSG), cannot perform their work (e.g. due to quarantine ordered by a public authority), they will receive continued pay for up to six weeks as compensation under §56 IfSG.
From the beginning of the seventh week, the compensation will be paid at the level of sick pay and employees must apply for it directly to the competent regional authority, Regierungspräsidium Karlsruhe. As of now, those concerned can apply for compensation online via www.ifsg-online.de. Besides the application form, the website gives useful information on the claiming preconditions and the application itself.

 

Further arrangements for civil servants

The arrangements for compensation payment do not apply directly to civil servants. Civil servants must stay away from work until a doctor certifies that a further spread of the coronavirus is no longer to be feared. They must submit a doctor’s certificate to this effect.

 

Email: Editor
Latest Revision: 2020-08-04
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