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WORKING IN GERMANY

Germany could ‘end quarantine pay for people without booster jabs’

The German government is reportedly mulling over plans to scrap quarantine pay for people who haven't received their full course of Covid jabs or whose last jab was more than three months ago.

Woman in Covid self-isolation
A woman sits in bed during self-isolation. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

According to reports in the German media, certain groups of vaccinated people could soon lose their wages if they have to go into quarantine after having contact with an infected person. 

The potential shift in rules was laid out by parliamentary lawyers in a brief obtained by German daily Bild.

“The absence of the Covid-19 booster vaccination would lead to the exclusion of the claim for compensation,” the brief allegedly states.

Though nothing concrete is in the pipeline yet, the change would primarily affect people who had received their Covid jabs in or before October last year but haven’t yet received a booster jab. 

According to Bild, it would also affect people who weren’t fully vaccinated yet, such as people who have only had one jab. 

This would be justified by the fact that the need to quarantine could have been avoided by a “publicly recommended” third vaccination, the lawyers write. 

Currently, only unvaccinated workers in quarantine cases face the prospect of lost wages if they have to quarantine due to a suspected Covid infection. This is one of the ways in which the government had hoped to encourage people to get vaccinated against Covid. 

READ ALSO: Germany ends quarantine pay for the unvaccinated

Quarantine exemptions 

To avoid massive staff shortages during the Omicron wave, federal and state leaders have recently agreed on a set of changes to Germany’s quarantine rules.

Under the new laws, people who’ve had a booster shot and people who had their second jab less than three months ago are exempt from having to quarantine after contacted with an infected person.

However, everyone with a confirmed Covid infection has to quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status. This group would still receive sick pay if they have to self-isolate. 

If the proposals laid out in the brief are taken up by the government, they would mean that anyone who isn’t exempt from quarantine faces a loss of wages for up to ten days.

This is the amount of time people with a suspected Covid infection must generally quarantine, though this can be shortened to seven days with a negative test. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Germany’s new rules and exceptions for Covid quarantine

Opposition politicians said that the plans to change the rules could only be justified if people were able to get a rapid appointment for a booster.

CDU MEP Dennis Radtke, who specialises in workers’ issues, told Bild: “If you want to do something like this, you have to make sure that everyone can get a quick booster shot. It can’t be the case that workers end up paying for the bad Covid management of the federal government.”

Others, meanwhile, appealed to workers to get their full course of vaccinations. 

“In order not to place unnecessary burdens on society, employees should strive for the highest possible level of his or her own protection,” CDU/CSU parliamentary secretary Thorsten Frei told Bild. “Those who expressly forego this protection should also be prepared to bear the consequences.”

As of Thursday, 75.3 percent of the population had received at least one Covid jab, while 73.1 percent were fully vaccinated and 48.9 percent had received a booster. 

Member comments

  1. This looks like another wonderful decree from out benevolent government. Completely followed by carefully checked scientific data. And in no way a dumb idea.

  2. And yet again – what happens to those who aren’t allowed to get a booster by our Bundesoverlords because of the stupid 3 month post-infection rule (which is of course not scientifically backed)? How Lauterbach managed to be even worse than Spahn blows my mind.

    1. Can you see it yet?
      You’ll only ever meet the requirements of our dear leaders for a few weeks per year. The rest of the time, you’ll be fighting to try and catch up.
      The goal posts are running at this point.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Germany’s top court approves Covid vaccine mandate for health workers

Germany's highest court ruled on Thursday that the mandatory Covid-19 vaccination rule for employees in health and care sectors is constitutional.

Germany's top court approves Covid vaccine mandate for health workers

From mid-March this year, health and care workers in Germany have had to prove they are vaccinated against Covid-19 or recently recovered. 

If they can’t provide this proof they face fines or even bans from working – however it is unclear how widely it has been enforced due to concerns over staff shortages. 

On Thursday the constitutional court rejected complaints against the partial vaccination mandate, saying the protection of vulnerable people outweighs any infringement of employees’ rights.

The law covers employees in hospitals as well as care homes, clinics, emergency services, doctors’ surgeries and facilities for people with disabilities. 

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s Covid vaccine mandate for health staff

The court acknowledged that the law meant employees who don’t want to be vaccinated would have to deal with professional consequences or change their job – or even profession. 

However, the obligation to be vaccinated against Covid as a health or care worker is constitutionally justified and proportionate, according to the judges.

They said that’s because compulsory vaccination in this case is about protecting elderly and sick people. These groups are at increased risk of becoming infected by Covid-19 and are more likely to become seriously ill or die.

The protection of vulnerable groups is of “paramount importance”, the resolution states.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach welcomed Thursday’s ruling and thanked health care facilities who have already implemented the vaccine mandate. He said: “The state is obliged to protect vulnerable groups”.

Course of the pandemic doesn’t change things

According to the ruling, the development of the pandemic in Germany is no reason to change course. 

The court based its decision on the assessment of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and medical societies, stating that it could still be assumed that a vaccination would protect against the Omicron variant.

It’s true that the protection of vaccines decreases over time, and most courses of disease are milder with the Omicron variant. Nevertheless, the institution-based vaccination obligation remains constitutional because, according to the experts, the higher risk for old and sick people has not fundamentally changed.

A vaccine mandate that would have affected more of the population in Germany was rejected by the Bundestag in a vote held in April

MPs had been allowed to vote with their conscience on the issue rather than having to vote along party lines. 

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