LONDON (ICIS)--Germany’s government has ordered employers to offer workers at least one coronavirus test a week, at employer’s expense, effective 19 April.
The measure comes as the country keeps struggling with the pandemic’s third wave and tight vaccine supplies.
It will help avoid coronavirus outbreaks at plants, along with subsequent shutdowns, the federal government said in agreeing on the respective regulatory changes on Wednesday.
The workplace and the way to and from work are posing an increased infection risk for the many industrial and other employees for whom working from home is not an option, the government said.
Currently, about 60% of employees are offered tests by employers - a level that is too low to effectively contain the pandemic, according to the government.
While employers will have to offer the test, employees are not obliged to take it.
However, German law firm CMS said in an advisory to clients that in certain circumstances an employer may demand that an employee take the test, and the employee may be excluded from the workplace in case of refusal.
Germany's chemical employers’ trade group BAVC said that in the chemical industry companies have been offering voluntary testing for many months, without being legally obliged to do so.
The key to preventing infections was to quickly ramp up the vaccination campaign, the group said.
Germany’s top employers trade group, Die Arbeitgeber, said that the obligation of offer testing created an unnecessary additional bureaucratic burden at an already difficult time. BAVC is a member of Die Arbeitgeber.
Meanwhile, the country's Robert Koch health institute on Thursday reported 29,426 new infections over the past 24 hours, bringing total infections to more than 3m since the pandemic began.
The rate of new weekly infections was was 160 cases per 100,000 people as of Thursday.
So far, nearly 80,000 people died of the virus in Germany.