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WEATHER

Heavy rain and strong winds on the way for much of Germany

The German Weather Service (DWD) predicts that the next few days will see variable, windy and wet weather across the country with possible flooding in some rivers.

Heavy rain and strong winds on the way for much of Germany
Rainy conditions along the Baltic Sea close to Rostock. Photo: DPA.

Have your umbrella at the ready; DWD expects heavy precipitation coming from the west to fall across Germany as early as Wednesday morning.

Meteorologists warn motorists to be prepared for plenty of rain as well as strong wind gusts reaching 60 km/h in the lowlands, along the coasts and in the mountains.

The forecast follows precipitation in the form of snow across much of the country last weekend which led to chaotic situations not only for those travelling on the streets, but also for plane and rail travellers.

On Tuesday the flood reporting centre along the Mosel River in Trier, Rhineland-Palatinate, recorded declining water levels after reaching a peak of about 6.7 metres.

After much of the ice and snow had thawed by Monday, some rivers across the Bundesrepublik – including the Kinzig river in Hesse – were flooded.

In and around Trier several roads had to be closed due to the flooding. Since more rain is forecast to fall starting on Wednesday, the flood reporting centre said it would keep a close eye on the situation.

Rising water levels are also expected for the Rhine river. In Koblenz on Wednesday evening, water levels will likely reach a peak, said Martin Klimmer from the General Directorate of Waterways and Navigation (GDWS).

As for the rest of the country, it’s a good possibility the variable, rainy and windy conditions will continue on until the weekend, report DWD.

In the lowlands, some snowflakes may even trickle down. But another icy, slippery weekend with snow-covered roads is not in the forecast, said DWD meteorologist Anna Wieczorek.

On the question of whether Germany will have a white Christmas this year, it is too early to predict, added Wieczorek.

For members

READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: Is it ever too hot to work from home in Germany?

Germany has regulations on working during a heatwave - but does that also apply to people who work remotely? We take a look.

Reader question: Is it ever too hot to work from home in Germany?

The number of people working from home shot up during the Covid pandemic, and though employees no longer have the right to work remotely by law, many have chosen to stick with more flexible arrangements and set up a home office at least part of the week.

This is great news for people who enjoy a lie-in more than a long commute, but there are some downsides. One major issue is that it’s not always clear how Germany’s strict employee protection rules actually apply in a home setting. The rules for working during a heatwave are a good example of this.

How does Germany regulate working in extreme heat? 

By law in Germany, employers are responsible for creating a safe environment for their workers. This means that they should try and keep the temperature below 26C at all times and are legally obliged to take action if the temperature goes above 30C. 

That could include putting blinds on the windows to prevent the glare of the sun, installing air conditioning systems or purchasing fans. In some cases – such as outdoor manual labour – it could also involve starting and finishing earlier in the day. 

And in really high temperatures, employers may simply decide to call the whole thing off and give their employees a ‘hitzefrei’ day – basically a heat-induced day off – to go and cool down in a lake. However, business owners are generally given free rein to decide how hot is too hot in this instance (except in the case of vulnerable workers). 

READ ALSO: Hitzefrei: Is it ever legally too hot to go to work or school in Germany?

Do the heat rules apply to ‘home office?’

Unfortunately not. In most cases in Germany, the company isn’t directly involved in setting up the workspace for an employee that works from home, aside from possibly providing a laptop or phone for remote use. 

“The occupational health and safety regulations regarding room temperature do not apply in this case,” labour law expert Meike Brecklinghaus told German business publication T3N. “This is because the employer does not have direct access to the employee’s workplace and in this respect cannot take remedial action.”

That means that on hot days, it’s the employee’s own responsibility to make sure the environment is suitable for working in. 

woman works from home in Germany

A woman works in her living room at home. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Naupold

One duty employers do have, however, is to instruct their workers about the best way to set up a healthy work environment at home, for example by giving guidance on how to regulate the temperature. 

“In the end, it is the employee’s responsibility to maintain his or her workplace in a condition in which he or she can perform his or her work without the threat of health impairments,” Brecklinghaus explained.

What can home office workers do in hot weather?

There are plenty of ways to keep flats cooler in the summer months, including purchasing your own fan, keeping curtains or blinds drawn and ventilating the rooms in the evening or early morning when the weather is cooler.

However, if heat is really becoming a problem, it’s a good idea to communicate this to your employer. This is especially important if you have a health condition that makes it more dangerous to work in hot weather. 

In some cases, you might be able to negotiate for the employer to pay for the purchase of a fan or mobile air conditioner as goodwill gesture. If possible, you could also arrange to travel to the office where the temperature should be better regulated.

Another option for early birds or night owls is to arrange more flexible working hours so you can avoid sweltering at your desk in the midday sun, although this of course depends on operational factors. 

READ ASO: Jobs in Germany: Should foreign workers join a union?

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