In order to reduce the risk of infection for employees, the home office requirement and, more recently, the 3G detection requirement at the workplace are once again in effect. Increased working from the home office is intended to reduce contacts at the workplace and on the way to work. For those who have to perform their work in the company, the 3G regulation at the workplace has been in effect since November 24, 2021, in order to increase the protection of the workforce at the workplace – the Infection Protection Act (IfSG) was adapted for this purpose.
For many companies in the mechanical and plant engineering sector – including those in North Rhine-Westphalia – the implementation of the 3G regulation means an additional bureaucratic burden. For this reason, ProduktionNRW has organized a virtual exchange of experiences on January 20, 2022, in order to present the legal regulations on the one hand and on the other hand to give the participants the opportunity to exchange ideas among themselves about possible solutions.
Legal framework: 3G proof requirement and home office
Attorneys Dr. Christian Hess and Fabian Seus from the VDMA legal department, first presented the current legal regulations. According to the changes in the Infection Protection Act (§28 b para. 1-3), employers and employees may only enter workplaces if they have been vaccinated, recovered or tested. The corresponding proof (proof of vaccination, proof of recovery or proof of testing) must be carried and kept available for inspection. All employers are required to monitor and regularly document the verification checks on a daily basis. Employers may process personal data for this purpose, including vaccination, sero and test status data related to Covid-19. The amendments to the Infection Protection Act apply up to and including March 19, 2022.
The 3G regulation only applies to employees who must continue to perform their work at the workplace. This is because, according to the IfSG (§28 b para. 4), employers must offer their employees the opportunity to work from home in the case of office work or comparable activities if there are no compelling operational reasons to the contrary. As a rule, technical or organizational reasons, such as the unavailability of required IT equipment, can only be cited temporarily until the reason for prevention has been eliminated.
High effort and complication of the 3G proof requirement
In the concluding discussion, it became clear that the participants are facing an additional administrative burden with the implementation of the 3G proof requirement. Especially the topics around the shortened convalescent status and the possible complication of the valid vaccination status pose challenges for the group of participants in-house.
In addition to the previously required information on the recognized vaccines and the number of vaccinations required for a complete protective vaccination, the number of booster vaccinations required as well as times for a complete protective vaccination and the period between the individual vaccinations may also become relevant in the future.
Information on the vaccine and vaccination date is not yet recorded in the companies for data protection reasons, but the possible changes in the convalescent or vaccination status may have a direct impact on 3G controls in the workplace. Due to the changes related to the convalescent certificate and the shortening of the validity period, some employees – originally classified as convalescent – will lose their status.
Particularly criticized was the fact that companies must continuously keep an eye on the respective specifications as part of the implementation of 3G access control and adapt their measures if necessary. This is because, according to the Covid 19 Protection Measures Exemption Ordinance and the Coronavirus Entry Ordinance of January 14, proof of vaccination must comply with the respective specifications published by the Paul Ehrlich Institute. In the future, these specifications can be changed without having to go through a formal ordinance process.
The event was offered by ProduktionNRW. ProduktionNRW is the competence network of mechanical engineering and production technology in North Rhine-Westphalia and is implemented by VDMA NRW. ProduktionNRW sees itself as a platform for networking, informing and marketing companies, institutions and networks among themselves and along the value chain. Significant parts of the services provided by ProduktionNRW are funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).