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STORM

IN PICTURES: High winds, torrential rain and snow hit Germany

A storm has left a trail of destruction across Germany, and now there's snow too. We show you how it's affecting the country.

IN PICTURES: High winds, torrential rain and snow hit Germany
People battle through the snow storm in Munich on Monday. Photo: DPA

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From fallen trees blocking train lines and roads, to electricity being cut off, storm “Eberhard” has caused havoc throughout Germany. Gusts of up to 164 km/h were recorded by forecasters on Sunday, accompanied by rain and snow.

SEE ALSO: Travel chaos as deadly storm hits Germany

One person, a 47-year-old man, is known to have died in the storm after a tree fell on his car on Sunday while he was driving near Bestwig in Sauerland.  

Train services have also been affected with many being cancelled or delayed, while roads across the country have been blocked by trees. 

Now a rush of cold air is causing heavy snow showers.

In Müngersdorf in Cologne, onlookers witnessed a lucky escape for those travelling in this car.

The clean up is getting underway in Dresden, Saxony. Here a tree lies next to a bus stop. Photo: DPA

Damage in front of a nursery in Rhineland Palatinate is shown by this Twitter user.

Below, firefighters deal with a tree that has fallen onto a road in Zwönitz, Saxony. Photo: DPA

The plaster of a multi-storey apartment building in Hagen, North Rhine-Westphalia, lies in front of the entrance in this DPA picture, below.
 
 
Twitter users reported that threatening weather was still around on Monday. “Dark clouds” after the storm in Cologne. 
The storm also hit the east. In Chemnitz, Saxony, part of the roof of a nursing home was blown off onto a neighbouring building. Photo: DPA.
 
 
Lots of cars were destroyed in the storm.

In Düren, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the roof of a residential property was blown down, as this Twitter picture shows. Luckily, no one was reportedly injured.

Politicians thanked emergency crews for their work. Malu Dreyer, state premier of Rhineland Palatinate, said thanks to all the emergency services and volunteers who helped clear roads during the storm.

The storm caused huge disruption to the rail network, as well as the roads. In the below DPA picture, a fallen tree lies on a line near Dormagen, North Rhine-Westphalia.

 
 
Passengers are shown looking at the departure boards in Cologne main station in this DPA photo, below. The storm meant there were lots of cancellations on Sunday and disruption on Monday too, leaving many people stranded.
 
 
In Düsseldorf there was also chaos at transport hubs such as the main station, Twitter users reported. 
Experts have been working to repair train lines, like this photo from Düsseldorf shows, since late Sunday night.
It's not just strong gusts and rain that have hit Germany — the snow has arrived too. In Munich on Monday morning, there was lots of icy weather to contend with. Photo: DPA
 
 
At a golf club in Kassel, Hesse, 17 trees were overturned in the storm (and covered in snow).
Winter scenes were captured in the Naturpark Fichtelgebirge, in Bavaria.
 
The stormy and cold weather is expected to continue Monday but will calm down on Tuesday according to forecasters. The weather this week will, however, remain changeable with rain expected, according to forecasts.
 

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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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