Technische Universität Berlin

Coronavirus

Working and Services under Pandemic Conditions

Should I continue to work from home or on campus? What conditions must be fulfilled when working on campus? What are the rules for committee meetings? What services do the departments offer during university operation under pandemic conditions? On these pages, you find an overview of various topics that answer these and other questions.

At-risk groups

What do I need to consider?

In principle, persons belonging to an at-risk group may work on campus during periods of in-presence University operations under pandemic conditions, but are advised to work from home. This is also to avoid exposure to infection when commuting to and from work. As part of their responsibility to protect their staff, supervisors are required to draft individual risk assessments and to include appropriate measures in their staff deployment plans. The University Medical Service and the SDU can advise you on this.

Staff belonging to an at-risk group may only work alone in an office.

At-risk groups include people with a pre-existing condition such as

  • Diseases of the cardiovascular system (e.g. coronary heart disease and high blood pressure) 
  • Chronic diseases of the lungs
  • Chronic diseases of the kidneys
  • Chronic diseases of the liver 
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Cancer
  • A compromised immune system (such as resulting from an illness associated with a weakened immune system or from regular medication which affects and suppresses the immune system, such as cortisone)

Staff with one of the above conditions associated with an increased risk should present a medical certificate from either a specialist or their GP to their manager or supervisor, who should then forward the certificate to the relevant personnel team. It is not necessary to name the medical condition in the certificate. 

A medical certificate is also required for cases where a member of an employee’s household rather than the employee themselves suffers from one of these illnesses or conditions. The medical certificate should confirm that the person belongs to one of the at-risk groups. It is not required to state the name of the illness or condition.

According to the Robert Koch Institute, pregnancy is not associated with an increased risk. Employees who nevertheless do not wish to work on campus during in-presence University operations under pandemic conditions out of concern for their own health or that of their unborn child, should discuss this with their supervisor.

A severe disability alone, without the presence of a risk-increasing illness, does not represent sufficient reason for persons with a severe disability to not work on campus during periods of in-presence University operations.

It may happen that staff belonging to an at-risk group prefer to work on campus. If, as a supervisor, you are aware that a member of your staff belongs to an at-risk group, whether they explicitly stated this in relation to the coronavirus or not and irrespective of whether they presented a medical certificate, we would ask you, as part of your duty of care, to include appropriate precautionary measures in your staff deployment plans and to inform the employees concerned of their personal responsibility as well as the possibility to seek advice from the TU Medical Service. Seeking advice from the Medical Service is on a purely voluntary basis. Our doctors are sworn to secrecy and management will not be informed of the content of any advising session.

Working from home

Should I continue to work from home or on campus?

Staff may work on campus or from home.

Details regarding the simultaneous use of offices etc. can be found in the TU Berlin hygiene regulations. This should be kept to the absolute minimum required for operations.

Please note: Following the cyberattack, use of technical equipment in offices and other workplaces on campus remains restricted.

Please do not switch on any computers or other equipment in offices without first consulting your IT team or coordinator. This procedure has been introduced as part of the University’s increased IT security measures.

Campus Management (ZECM) is currently making the following services available for the entire University:

  • Emergency email
  • tubCloud
  • AFS
  • Webex/Zoom/Matrix
  • ISIS/Moses.

Please contact your IT team or coordinator for services relating specifically to your unit.

We kindly request staff and supervisors to discuss together whether it makes more sense to work on campus or from home. Decisions are the responsibility of management.

The Crisis Committee and the Executive Board would like to point out that it is recommended to continue working from home as far as possible.

Who decides if I should or may work from home or on campus?

Supervisors are responsible for deciding on the basis of the all general conditions whether work is to be completed from home or on campus. Medical certificates and a member of staff’s risk-group status are decisive here. They are responsible for drawing up and implementing staff deployment plans for their units as well as ensuring that these are complied with. Planning of schedules is to be on the basis of mutual agreement between supervisors and staff.

What are the requirements for working from home?

The requirements for working from home are:

  • Having the technical means to do so
  • The possibility to do the defined work from home
  • A binding agreement with the supervisor responsible for your area of work.

Can I alternate between working from home and on campus?

NEW as of 25 January 2021

Working from home has priority. If you need to work on campus (i.e. your work is essential and cannot be completed at home), please be aware of the following:

  • Irrespective of its size, only one person may work in an office or enclosed space at a time. 
  • Exceptions are only permitted where occupational safety requires the simultaneous presence of more than one person.
  • To avoid direct contact, please refrain from delivering documents in person. This applies for all units within the central administration. Please use email or interoffice mail when necessary.

Depending on your organizational unit, it may be possible to alternate between working on campus and from home. This needs to be recorded in the staff deployment plan.  

How does accident insurance work when working from home?

Which activities are insured when working from home? Is a coronavirus infection covered by statutory accident insurance? The coronavirus raises many questions regarding insurance cover. TU Berlin’s Occupational Health and Safety Services (SDU) provides information and advice.

What do I need to know about incapacity to work arising from illness?

A sick note from a doctor confirming incapacity to work is to be presented at the latest on the working day following the third day of illness. Should it not be possible to present an original copy of a doctor’s sick note confirming incapacity to work by this deadline, you also have the option to scan the document as temporary proof of incapacity to work and send this to your staff team as an attachment by email, as a photo from your mobile phone, or by fax.

What do I need to know about applications for exemption from work?

All units, academic chairs and faculties should continue to complete the form for registering illness (Erkrankungsanzeige) as normal and send this to their staff team so that days and hours not worked can be recorded. For staff granted leave of absence due to the closure of a childcare facility/school or due to their return from a risk area, the reason for absence is to be completed by hand in the relevant field (wegen) and the boxes which would normally be ticked left blank. Please also continue to use the form for registering a return to work for staff granted leave of absence. Completed forms can be sent by email to the relevant staff team. 

Are there any changes regarding contracts?

Should staff work from home, their employment contracts remain unaltered in their current state. Employees are only freed from their obligation to work in their respective place of work for the duration of the exception approving their working from home.

Who decides which work can be done from home?

The employee and manager are to jointly determine the nature and scope of duties to be completed from home. Work packages, scopes of action, and the means and extent of access are to be clearly agreed upon by the employee and manager. Staff working from home are required to work as normal for the working hours agreed.

Staff assigned too little work for these hours are requested to proactively contact their supervisor or manager to discuss additional tasks. Staff are also free to make suggestions concerning such additional tasks. These may include any work falling within the remit of the tasks agreed for their position, such as creating new forms, editing and updating existing documents, preparing texts for the website, taking part in online seminars, telephone meetings, preparing training material, updating spreadsheets, or preparing statistics or wikis. 

Your manager can also assign you additional work. If your manager is unable to assign you any further meaningful work, then you will be granted leave of absence on full pay.

What do I need to know regarding working hours when working from home?

Collective agreements and statutory provisions as well as the existing service agreements and circulars on working hours, rest breaks and incapacity for work apply.

Pursuant to the flextime framework in the TU Berlin/Staff Council agreement on flexible working hours, employees are permitted to freely determine their working hours when working from home. When recording your working hours, please enter “Homeoffice” under “Comments” in column J. You are not required to enter your start and end times. Employees are to arrange the times they are available when working from home with their supervisors. 

What do I need to know about equipment, data protection and occupational and health protection when working from home?

Employees are permitted to use both official and personal tools when working from home. Please ensure data privacy and security (see info sheet “Data privacy and IT security when working from home”). 

Employees are also protected by statutory accident insurance when working from home. Protection extends to occupational accidents and occupational illnesses. According to Section 8 (1) sentence 1 SGB VII, occupational accidents are accidents suffered by insured persons as a result of an activity which constitutes the basis for insurance coverage.

What are my obligations as a member of staff?

During the period of restricted operations, staff are required to check their University email account at least twice every working day to keep up to date with the latest developments and to ensure that they remain contactable in urgent circumstances. They are also obliged to check the University website once a day as the latest information and statements will be published there. Should you not be able to access your email inbox, you should provide your supervisor with a telephone number where you can be contacted.

What is the basis for approving vacations?

Many of you will have applied for annual leave or other forms of leave of absence for this period. Approval continues to apply for all leave previously authorized.

Cancellation or withdrawal of leave requires the authorization/consent of the University. Given the current circumstances, authorization/consent will only be granted if this is in the interest of the employer and if the employee's work is clearly essential to the functioning of the University during the period of restricted operations.

What does this mean exactly? Essentially, cancellation of leave or any other form of leave of absence at the request of staff will not be approved as long as the coronavirus continues to affect the University's operations.

Exceptions will only be granted if the employee's work is deemed absolutely essential to the University. It is also possible to reschedule periods of approved leave to enable staff to look after their children during periods of closure affecting schools and childcare facilities.

How can I take advantage of mobile working?

There are different options for mobile working:

Further services

Working at home for persons with pre-exiting conditions: important details for consideration

In work areas with limited opportunities for staff to work from home, we request immediate supervisors to exercise sound judgment in deciding who can work from home and to what extent. We ask in particular that employees with pre-existing conditions or employees living with persons with pre-existing conditions be given the opportunity to work from home. This especially includes the risk groups listed by the Robert Koch Institute.

Who is responsible for organizing staff cover?

Managers are required to determine and communicate clear regulations regarding cover.

Where can I find information regarding data protection?

Working on campus

Proof of need to commute to work for staff residing more than 15km from Berlin

As reported in the media, a number of federal states have introduced restricted movement for residents in administrative districts where the 7-day incidence rate exceeds 200 infections per 100,000 of the population. The regulations allow for exceptions for traveling to and from work. As yet, the regulations do not require commuters to present a certificate from their employer. However, a number of our staff have already reported that they were stopped or questioned, and we would kindly ask supervisors to provide staff residing more than 15km from the border to Berlin with an appropriate document confirming that they are required to commute to work. We have prepared a sample text to help you. Please delete any text that is not relevant. We also recommend all TU staff to carry their staff ID with them and to present this to the police or the Ordnungsamt as further proof of their employment at TU Berlin.

Wherever possible, all staff should continue to work from home with the agreement of their supervisor.

Sample text

Arbeitgeberbescheinigung

Folgende Bestätigung dient dem Nachweis des Bestehens eines Arbeits- bzw. Dienstverhältnisses zur Technischen Universität Berlin aufgrund der behördlich verfügten Ausgangsbeschränkungen anlässlich der Corona-Pandemie.

Die Technische Universität Berlin bestätigt, dass

Vorname Nachname     ______________________________

wohnhaft in

Straße u. Hausnr.         ______________________________

PLZ und Wohnort         ______________________________

an der Technischen Universität Berlin am Standort

________________________________________ (Straßenname)

beschäftigt ist.

Die Technische Universität Berlin ermöglicht Homeoffice. Für einzelne Beschäftigte ist Homeoffice aufgrund ihrer Arbeitsaufgaben jedoch nicht immer möglich. Der Hin- und Rückweg vom o.g. Wohnort zur Arbeitsstätte ist zur Erfüllung der arbeitsvertraglichen Pflichten bzw. Dienstpflichten erforderlich.

Im Rahmen der Arbeitstätigkeit ist sie/er regelmäßig auch an den Standorten

______________________________________ tätig.

Dies hat folgende Gründe: _______________________________________.

 

Für Rückfragen steht ________________________ (Name)

unter ______________ (Tel.) zur Verfügung.

 

 

Berlin, d. _________

 

____________________________ Unterschrift

 

 

TU Berlin Crisis Committee

Should ich work from home or on camous?

Staff may work on campus or from home.

Details regarding the simultaneous use of offices etc. can be found in the TU Berlin hygiene regulations. This should be kept to the absolute minimum required for operations.

Please note: Following the cyberattack, use of technical equipment in offices and other workplaces on campus remains restricted.

Please do not switch on any computers or other equipment in offices without first consulting your IT team or coordinator. This procedure has been introduced as part of the University’s increased IT security measures.

Campus Management (ZECM) is currently making the following services available for the entire University:

  • Emergency email
  • tubCloud
  • AFS
  • Webex/Zoom/Matrix
  • ISIS/Moses.

Please contact your IT team or coordinator for services relating specifically to your unit.

We kindly request staff and supervisors to discuss together whether it makes more sense to work on campus or from home. Decisions are the responsibility of management.

The Crisis Committee and the Executive Board would like to point out that it is recommended to continue working from home as far as possible.

TU staff should continue to work from home as far as possible during summer semester 2021. This is the explicit wish of the University to reduce the spread of the virus. Essentially, this means that all staff who are able to work effectively from home should continue to do so until further notice. The final decision rests with your supervisor.

It is, however, possible to work on campus. Decisions should assess the necessity for work to be completed on campus in the context of the general conditions for the containment of the virus.

Regulations concerning the possibility of working on campus are determined by TU Berlin’s phased plan for the pandemic.

Can I alternate between working from home and on campus?

NEW as of 25 January 2021

Working from home has priority. If you need to work on campus (i.e. your work is essential and cannot be completed at home), please be aware of the following:

  • Irrespective of its size, only one person may work in an office or enclosed space at a time. 
  • Exceptions are only permitted where occupational safety requires the simultaneous presence of more than one person.
  • To avoid direct contact, please refrain from delivering documents in person. This applies for all units within the central administration. Please use email or interoffice mail when necessary.

In principle, it may be possible to alternate between working on campus and from home. 

What do supervisors need to consider when drafting staff deployment plans?

Supervisors are responsible for drafting staff deployment plans for work to be conducted on campus. The requirements are

  • Compliance with TU Berlin hygiene regulations
     
  • Compliance with regulations relating to at-risk groups and other staff with medical certificates
     
  • The necessity to conduct administrative work, research, and teaching on campus.

Staff deployment plans are to be independently maintained and recorded in each organizational unit so that any possible infection chains can be identified. Management are further responsible for ensuring strict compliance with their staff deployment plans and the hygiene and protective measures of TU Berlin. Staff deployment plans must be archived for a minimum period of 14 days.

How should offices or work spaces be organized?

NEW as of 25 January 2021

Working from home has priority. If you need to work on campus (i.e. your work is essential and cannot be completed at home), please be aware of the following:

  • Irrespective of its size, only one person may work in an office or enclosed space at a time. 
  • Exceptions are only permitted where occupational safety requires the simultaneous presence of more than one person.
  • To avoid direct contact, please refrain from delivering documents in person. This applies for all units within the central administration. Please use email or interoffice mail when necessary.

As far as possible, work spaces should not be used by more than one person at the same time. This also applies to offices.

Presence can be organized on a rolling basis if possible. If it is not possible to avoid more than one person working in an office at the same time, management must ensure that this only occurs in offices with at least 25 square meters. An additional 15 square meters of space must be available for each additional person working in the office. Overlapping periods should be kept to an absolute minimum by, for example, taking advantage of early and late starting times as permitted by DV Flex.

Staff belonging to an at-risk group may only work alone in an office.

It is essential that offices be sufficiently aired, if possible on a continual basis. 

Minimum distances must be maintained between work spaces, by reorganizing furniture or introducing plexiglass if necessary. 

Wearing of face masks providing mouth and nose protection is determined by the phased plan for the pandemic.

You should avoid regularly swapping teams around.

Please contact the Medical Service if you require further advice or clarification. Members of the Staff Councils and the Medical Service can, by prior agreement, enter office spaces if they need to do so to check on arrangements.

Essential meetings and committee sessions may be held in sufficiently large rooms under observation of the hygiene and protective measures, but video and telephone conference formats should continue to be used.

An office, lab or workshop may, however, be used by two or more persons at the same time if there is sufficient space to permit this. A minimum distance of two meters must be maintained between all persons present and the space must be aired regularly and thoroughly by cross ventilation if possible, unless the room has functioning air conditioning.

Should it not be possible to maintain a minimum distance of two meters, appropriate safety measures must be drawn up and implemented by supervisors or management.

An application must be submitted for approval to the Crisis Committee if technical or safety requirements necessitate non-compliance with the hygiene and protective measures of TU Berlin.

How should working hours be organized if working on campus is possible?

It should be made possible for staff to combine working from home and on campus though the use of alternating working times within the organizational unit (distributed over so many days per week). Shifts should be organized for a day rather than having several staff working for a number of hours at home and on campus within a single day.

Are all team members permitted to work together in the office?

As a matter of principle, staff should avoid gathering in groups such as when entering rooms or changing shifts in labs, if possible by using different entrances and exits to buildings. Team meetings within an organizational unit are permitted if the number of attendees and the length of the meeting are kept to a minimum, minimum distancing regulations are complied with and suitable spaces in terms of size and the possibility of cross ventilation are chosen. However, digital formats are preferred (video or telephone conferencing).

If possible, from an organizational point of view and in terms of work, all members of staff within an organizational unit should be able to work roughly the same number of hours on campus and from home.

What conditions must be fulfilled to work on campus?

Staff may work on campus in their labs, workshops and offices if the necessary conditions are met. An appropriate staff deployment plan must be devised for each organizational unit. This must include

  • Details for the implementation of TU Berlin hygiene regulations
  • Details regarding rooms (one person per room, airing of rooms, etc.)
  • The requirements of the employer
  • The needs of staff members

What do I need to do if I am alternating use of the office with my colleagues?

TU Berlin protective measures must be observed when handing over rooms to other members of staff (e.g. disinfecting keyboards and airing rooms). Suitable materials are available for this purpose from the Hygiene Storage Facility.

What do I need to do if I test positive for Covid-19 and have been present on campus at TU Berlin

If you test positive, further steps will be determined by the procedure for managing chains of infection at TU Berlin.

Official trips and excursions

Are official trips permitted?

Regulations regarding official trips are determined in the phased plan for the pandemic.

What do I need to know about canceling official trips?

You are requested not to accept vouchers for trips which you were unable to take, but to insist upon a refund of travel costs.

If the organization you booked your travel with is unable to provide the travel, you are entitled to a refund of travel costs. This is at least the case for trips booked via a German-language portal and for which German law applies. This is then a case of legal impossibility, with the consequence that performance and consideration are no longer applicable. There is currently no legal regulation that restricts a customer's right to reimbursement.

Even when accepting vouchers, the customer has a right of refund if they do not use these vouchers.

We therefore request you to insist on a refund of travel costs for official trips if your journey was canceled by the travel organization (such as cancellation of flight, closure of hotel etc.).

Cancellation costs will be covered by the funds used to pay for the trip or by the unit which approved the travel. Please note that cancellation costs may not be chargeable to all third-party funders.

Is it possible to organize excursions and field trips?

Excursions and field trips for the purposes of teaching and research may take place. You should check the risk areas for which a travel warning has been issued by the Robert Koch Institute or the Federal Foreign Office.

Self-isolation following private trips

TU Berlin requests that you check which conditions will apply upon your return before you depart, in particular if you may be required to self-isolate. You can find updated information on the websites of the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of the Interior.

Please also refer to the regulations and general decrees of the federal states.

Please be aware that these could different for Berlin and Brandenburg.

If you knew or could reasonably have been expected to know at the time of your departure to a region defined as a risk area that you would be required to self-isolate upon your return and are then as a consequence unable to perform your professional duties or work at full capacity at home, you may lose your right to receive your salary for the period affected.

Recording vacation and flexdays

To ensure that an accurate record of leave entitlement is maintained, all TU Berlin staff are requested to enter any leave or flexdays requested and approved by email when working from home in their record of leave and flexdays for 2020 and have this signed by their supervisor.

Travel cost center

Inquiries made to Traveling Expenses will only be answered by telephone and email until further notice.

Committee meetings

What are the rules for committee meetings?

The Senate Chancellery for Science and Research has provided guidelines for conducting committee meetings to help maintain the working capacity of the various academic committees during the SARS-CoV crisis. Given the current circumstances, the Senate Chancellery regards the use of technical options as an acceptable and necessary alternative to the principle of physical presence. The preferred option is video conferencing and if this is not possible then telephone conferencing. Steps are to be taken to ensure the quality of broadcast and that votes are only cast by those members of the committee entitled to do so. The execution of resolutions is by public vote. Please refer to the Senate Chancellery's letter of 26.03.2020 for further details regarding the use of video and telephone conferencing.

Please ensure that access is granted to the public for points of order which are to be publicly conducted. Relevant documents with details of how to gain access to the session are to be published online in a format accessible to all. At the same time, it is recommended that the invitation to attend include a statement requesting that only members of the public with a genuine interest log into the meeting. This is to prevent the capacity, stability and broadband of the broadcast being overloaded and to ensure that the session can be conducted properly by the members and advisors of the committee.

A further option is to pass resolutions on the principle of a silence procedure if no member objects to the use of this procedure (Section 47 (4) sentence 3 BerlHG). Template and instructions concerning the introduction of the principle of silence procedure by email.

To ensure the participation of the public in points of order to be conducted publicly, the public should be informed online regarding those points of order to be voted on using a silence procedure. Once voting has taken place, the result is also to be published online without delay. Please ensure that information regarding access to the session and relevant documents and minutes can be accessed from outside the TU network.

We wish to point out that, irrespective of the choice of procedure used, the rights of other parties to the proceeding (women's representatives, Staff Council etc.) and the time limits which apply under the applicable rules of procedure must be respected.

We will update you on further information provided by the Senate Chancellery regarding committee meetings.

Personnel

Much of Human Resources’ work depends upon being able to access physical files, and as such only a certain amount of its work can be done working from home. Initial test runs for digitizing individual work processes are currently taking place.

As a result of the pandemic and the restrictions this has placed upon staff capacities, particularly during the lockdown, Human Resources is currently experiencing a considerable backlog. This means that we are only dealing with procedures essential to TU Berlin operations or whose non-processing would result in serious financial hardship for staff. Examples include procedures to avoid staff becoming unemployed (where this is not the intention of the University) or serious financial hardship arising from non-payment of salaries. In order to cope with the volume of cases, priority is therefore currently given to recruitment procedures, extensions of employment contracts, short-term applications for parental allowance and termination of employment contracts.

The relevant managers in the departments and faculties can also help Human Resources process priority cases by checking priority and urgency before sending documents and by introducing a processing time of four weeks for recruitment procedures.

What do I need to know about my contract?

The following continues to apply regarding the finalization of work contracts:

Work contracts are generally sent digitally, meaning that an unsigned contract is sent by the relevant member of staff to the appointee by email, together with the necessary forms and paperwork. The appointee prints two copies of the contract as well as all other documents sent, signs everything and returns by standard mail to the indicated staff team. Once the contract has been signed by Human Resources, an original copy is sent to the appointee by standard mail.

A face-to-face appointment may be possible as an absolute exception should it not be possible to finalize a contract in time using the above procedure (e.g. the standard mail service may take too long).

A digital procedure is similarly to be used for all other situations where a signature is required.

Human Resources will continue to give priority to work which has to be completed by strict deadlines. This means that priority will be given to job postings, the finalization of contracts, the termination of contracts and changes to working hours as they affect the payment of salaries. 

Job postings: Should applications be sent digitally or by mail?

Human Resources points out in job postings that applications may only be sent by email.

Job postings also inform candidates that information regarding the data-protection compliant processing of applicants' data in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation can be viewed on the web pages of Human Resources.

How are job interviews to be conducted?

WebEx is available for conducting job interviews. We request you to use WebEx due to the greater data protection it provides. Interviews may also be held face-to-face during the current phase if conducted in compliance with the hygiene regulations.

How are staffing procedures processed?

Staffing procedures are currently processed by the staff teams and the Staff Councils in presence using hard copies of documents.

How are women’s representatives and the Office of Staff with Disabilities contacted?

Answering inquiries, providing advice and receiving complaints will be by email and telephone only until further notice. The following applies regarding the women’s representatives' involvement in staffing procedures: With immediate effect, all staffing procedures will be conducted electronically. This includes the forwarding of documents. Approval or rejection by the women’s representatives for electronically conducted procedures will be given by email.

The same applies for the Office of Staff with Disabilities.

Liability of staff: What do I need to know?

The current exceptional circumstances require us all to find quick and effective solutions. Decisions need to be made and it is not always possible when doing so to observe the usual procedures, processes and legal norms.

Staff are often unsure and concerned that they could later be held liable for decisions taken in response to the current circumstances.

We would like to assure you that staff are only liable for damage arising through the execution of their professional duties if caused intentionally or as a result of gross negligence. Regulations regarding liability for civil servants derive from Section 48 of the Civil Servant Status Act. Employees covered by collective agreements are similarly protected by corresponding regulations in the TV-L Berlin Hochschulen.

As such, only members of staff knowingly and intentionally violating their duties or failing to observe the care required in traffic by manifestly failing to exercise common sense are obliged to compensate the employer for damage caused.

Assessments regarding gross negligence will be made on a case-by-case basis. Staff may cite circumstances making it more difficult to work carefully, such as excessive workloads, the urgency of the work, or the need to act quickly due to the danger of a situation, in mitigation against accusations of gross negligence.

Paid leave for parents/guardians (updated 17 September 2021)

Option of paid leave for parents or guardians of children requiring care

Occupational and service law changes resulting from the impact of the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic:

Paid leave for parents or guardians of children requiring care

With the latest amendment to Section 56 (1a) of the Protection Against Infection Act (IfSG) dated 28 May 2021, the legal prerequisites for a claim for compensation under Section 56 (1a) sentence 1 IfSG were once again adjusted.

With the current circular, the affected regulations are made indefinite and remain in place without interruption, are modified, and remain valid for the duration of the epidemic of national proportions determined by the German Bundestag:

In the event of the closure of childcare facilities, schools or facilities for persons with disabilities, including as a result of the requirement to quarantine, or of school or other holidays enforced or extended by the responsible authorities as a measure to protect against infection, the suspension of face-to-face teaching at schools, restricted access to childcare facilities, or an official recommendation to refrain from attending such facilities, working parents and legal guardians are entitled to paid leave upon application

  • if their child is under twelve or is disabled and requires care
  • if they have to care for a child themselves as they are unable to arrange any other reasonable alternative and
  • if they do not have plus hours on their working-time account.

The same applies for foster parents caring full time for a child, as defined in Section 33 of Social Security Code (SGB) VIII, residing in their home.

In accordance with Section 56 (2) sentence IfSG, you are entitled to compensation if you are employed. Compensation applies per annual period for the duration of the epidemic of national proportion determined by the German Bundestag in accordance with Section 5 (1) sentence 1.

Entitlement to compensation within this context was first introduced on 30 March 2020. As a result, entitlement to compensation in the scope listed below renews 30 March 2021. There is no possibility to carry over days from the previous compensation period.

Paid leave can be requested for up to 34 whole days, or 67 whole days for single parents (to be applied to a five-day work week). Alternatively, staff have the option to request up to 68 half days, or 134 half days for single parents (50 percent of regular daily working hours).

Parents, guardians and foster parents wishing to apply for leave are required to demonstrate to their employer (TU Berlin) that for the period in question there are no reasonable options for childcare, such as essential childcare services or care provided by other persons not belonging to identified coronavirus risk groups, and that circumstances make it unreasonable for them to work from home.

An entitlement to paid leave does not apply for those periods when the daycare center or school would otherwise have been closed, for example due to school or public holidays. You are also not entitled to paid leave in accordance with the IfSG if you have flextime credit.

Please use these tables to determine the number of possible days of leave.

The following applies to civil servants: The regulations in Section 56a IfSG do not apply directly to civil servants. However, the regulations are transferred accordingly.

Civil servants are entitled to up to 34 working days of paid special leave (for a five-day work week per year for the purpose of caring for their child

  • if their child is under twelve
  • if their child is disabled and requires care, regardless of their age

In accordance with the regulations regarding special leave in Section 59 LBG, urgent work requirements can prevent civil servants from taking leave as described above.

After taking special leave in accordance with Section 59 LBG for 34 or 67 working days (for a five-day work week), civil servants may work part time due to family responsibilities in accordance with Section 54a LBG or request a leave of absence (without pay) in accordance with Section 55 (1) LBG. On the assumption that working from home is only possible to a limited extent when looking after children, parents, guardians, and foster parents will be granted paid leave (for the duration of the IfSG described above) for half of their required working time, provided the other conditions are met. When assigning work, supervisors are requested to take account of the individual childcare requirements of their staff. In individual cases, it may be possible to agree a reduced workload as an exception. This exception is designed to help in situations where parents, etc. are required to simultaneously look after more than one child who would otherwise be attending a school or daycare center.

How to apply: 

Staff wishing to take advantage of this option should send the completed form to Human Resources. You should also submit proof that the daycare center/school attended by your child, ward or foster child is closed or unable to offer care for the period in question due to one the relevant reasons listed above.

If you do not yet know when the daycare center/school or school class will be reopening or running again, please make a note of this in your application and provide this information as soon as possible thereafter.

Please submit your application electronically if possible. You may remain at home to look after your children as soon as you have submitted your application by email. Human Resources will then review and approve the application.

We request that you remain contactable at the email address you used to submit  your application in case Human Resources needs to clarify anything with you regarding the processing of your application.

You are further requested to immediately inform your supervisor that you will not be working and remain in regular contact with them.

The following is relevant for supervisors: You need to continue to fill out the form for registering illness for such cases (Erkrankungsanzeige) and return to II T. The reason for absence from work in the section “wegen” should be completed by hand and entered as “notwendige Kinderbetreuung aufgrund der Kita-/Schulschließung wegen COVID 19” (essential childcare due to closure of daycare center/school because of COVID 19). You can ignore the boxes which you would normally check for this purpose. The form for registering a return to health/work should also continue to be used.

These regulations also apply for staff with civil servant status.

Increase and extension for a limited period of entitlement to child sickness benefit during the coronavirus pandemic

Option for a limited period of entitlement to child sickness

In addition to the options for paid leave for parents and guardians to look after their children requiring care (see circular IV no. 99 2020 of 15 December 2020), a law has also now been passed as an amendment to Section 45 SGB V through the addition of Section 2a to increase entitlement to child sickness benefit.

These regulations apply retroactively from 5 January 2021 and remain effective until the end of 2021.

The regulations entitle parents with statutory insurance whose children are co-insured as dependents as per Section 10 SGB V to 20 days’ child sickness benefit (previously 10 days) per child per parent, up to a total of 45 days. This entitlement for single parents increases by a further 20 days to 40 days per child per parent, up to a maximum of 90 days.

Entitlement is now extended to also include other situations where a parent is required to care for or look after a child at home.

This means that parents are entitled to child sickness benefit days if:

  • Their child is sick
  • Their child requires looking after at home because
    • a daycare center, school or facility for persons with disabilities has been temporarily closed due to the coronavirus, or
    • the requirement to attend school is suspended, or
    • access to childcare is restricted, including in cases where the daycare center is in principle open but where parents are requested to only make use of the facility in urgent cases.

Entitlement applies to the working parents of children

  • who are under twelve or have a disability which requires assistance and
  • where there is no other person at home who is able to look after or care for the children.

For the time where they are receiving this benefit, entitlement under Section 56 (1a) IfSG is suspended for both parents. During the time they are receiving child sickness benefit, parents may not apply for compensation for loss of earnings either for the child for who they are claiming child sickness benefit or for any other child requiring care or looking after.

Entitlement applies regardless of whether a parent’s contractual duties can in principle also be performed working from home. Upon request, parents must provide appropriate proof of the need for care to their health insurer.

Applications for child sickness benefit are to be submitted to the child’s health insurer. You can find further information on the insurer’s website. You can find a sample certificate of proof that a child is not attending daycare/school to submit when applying for child sickness benefit online.

If you wish to take advantage of your entitlement to child sickness benefit, please inform your supervisor immediately of the start of your period of absence and its likely duration.

The aforementioned regulations apply accordingly to civil servants previously entitled to time off to care for a sick child in an analogous application of Section 45 SGB V. Taking leave continues to be on the basis of registering absence due to the sickness of a child (see circular entitled Krankmeldungen und unentschuldigtes Fehlen dated 10 July 2002). Please also submit the certificate of proof of non-attendance of a daycare center or school referred to above.

Finance, purchasing, cash payment counter

How are invoices processed by Finance?

Hard copies are as a rule required for the processing of invoices. Payment requests and relevant documents must be sent as originals to Financial Accounting. Legislation does not permit any exceptions for payment requests.

The following option combining digital processing and the use of hard copies is only permitted as an exception during current circumstances if it is not possible to conduct procedures using hard copies only.  This is to ensure that accounts receives a hard copy.

If it is not possible to provide two wet signatures for payment requests, the following procedure is to be used:

  1. If the signature confirming the factual accuracy on the payment request is not a wet signature, the payment request is to be marked C19 in red at the top.
  2. The authorized person is to sign using blue ink.
  3. If no second person is available to act as authorized person, the authorized person confirming factual accuracy shall sign in blue ink and the payment request with supporting documents shall be sent to III FIMA for authorization. III FIMA is then responsible for marking the document C19.

This procedure ensures that all documents have one wet signature in blue ink. A second blue signature can then be added by III FIMA.

Invoices can only be processed by Financial Accounting if hard copies are submitted to them. Resources are not available to process computer files or to print out invoices.

We kindly ask you to refrain from bringing transactions in person. This request also applies to all sections within Department III, including Human Resources Management – III PW – and Financial Management  – III FIMA.

What do I need to know about purchasing and ordering?

It is currently possible to make purchases and place orders. Please be aware, however, that it may take Financial Accounting longer than usual to process invoices.

Please note the following when placing orders.

  1. It is not possible to place orders with new suppliers, including online suppliers. The use of new suppliers will overburden resources during the period of restricted in-presence operations.
  2. No orders may be placed with suppliers, including seemingly cheaper online suppliers, with payment terms of 10 days. Fines are more or less inevitable as there is no way of guaranteeing that an invoice will reach accounts within 10 days.
  3. Please do not place small orders. Orders should be bundled together. The number of invoices, particularly from Lyreco and other companies supplying academic chairs, administrative sections, etc., within a monthly period continues to be high despite requests to avoid small orders.
  4. If possible, please use TU Berlin’s Amazon Prime membership. Even if prices are slightly higher, this is outweighed by the benefits for the unit placing the order as well as for the process of paying invoices as we do not receive reminders and fines from Amazon.

Larger orders which need to be placed via the Contract Awarding Office may be recommenced. This is not restricted to procurements essential for the operation of the University.

Is the cash payment counter at TU Berlin open?

Due to current circumstances, the University Cashier’s cash counter remains closed until further notice. We would like to make clear that no exceptions are possible regarding the paying in and out of cash. Please continue to take appropriate measures. Please inform all your students, customers, etc. 

Construction and building management

Is construction work being carried out during the pandemic?

Construction work and related advising services are continuing as far as staffing capacity permits. Processing times are considerably longer due to the fact that some of this work is being done by staff working from home. The number of unoccupied vacancies in Department IV means we are only able to carry out construction work essential to keep TU Berlin in functioning order.

Construction measures of the Federal State of Berlin (e.g. Math-IMoS, renovation of TC facade) can only be undertaken with staff on site.

Restricted staff capacity limits the number of new construction projects which can be undertaken.

Are removals and operations for the disposal of bulky waste taking place?

Removals and operations for the disposal of bulky waste are taking place under compliance with current hygiene regulations.

Are reported faults being dealt with?

Reported faults will continue to be processed. Considerable backlogs have however arisen due to limited staffing capacities in recent months. We are working through this backlog systematically. Please only report faults requiring urgent attention. Please be aware that it may take longer to deal with faults than usual. Should such a delay represent a potential risk, please inform Department IV by telephone (emergency 24 hour hotline: 314-22714) in addition to reporting the fault online. This service is for faults/repairs only and not for new equipment and supplies.

Central Workshop mailbox

Who can help with measures to prepare for in-presence operations?

Requests for construction measures approved on the advice of the Medical Service or the SDU, such as the installation of plexiglass, are to be made via the fault reporting portal to the Central Workshops of Department IV - Building and Services Management.

Are cleaning, mail, and waste disposal services operating?

Cleaning and interoffice mail services will continue to operate as usual. Packages are to be addressed to the post unit in Building Z. The interoffice mail service will continue to be operated by the University’s mail service and courier service as in the past.

Are real estate and building operations taking place?

Building operations take place as usual.

Can I submit print orders?

Yes, print orders are completed via a framework contract with our current partners.

Are portable electrical devices being tested?

Each supervisor is responsible for carrying out legally required tests. Due to reduced staff capacity, Department IV is currently unable to assist with this. This means that the procedure outlined in Instruction Sheet 1.2 cannot be followed.

What are the working procedures of Department IV – Building and Services Management under pandemic conditions?

The planning and implementation of structural and technical measures as well as the operation of the premises and associated buildings will continue with a reduced number of staff.

Planning, organization and implementation take considerably longer when working from home, which results in a growing backlog of maintenance work and delays in implementing measures.

As with the other departments, face-to-face contact in Department IV should be kept to a minimum. Unfortunately, this reduces the efficiency of our work regarding consultation and the planning and implementation of construction work as well as necessary on-site discussions. In particular, maintaining the operability and thus the usability of the buildings and real estate currently poses considerable challenges for Department IV.

We would therefore kindly ask you to only notify us of building and technical work which is absolutely essential.

Research applications and third-party funding accounting

What are the working procedures of Department V – Research under pandemic conditions?

We kindly request you to observe internal deadlines and processing times etc., such as submitting new research proposals at least two weeks in advance. This is particularly important during the period of the coronavirus pandemic. Failing to do so may mean that we are unable to conduct a full and proper examination of your proposal. This is in part due to the fact that the Research Department needs to give priority to statements of use etc. for the funding agencies when processing proposals. 

The timely processing of third-party funding statements is ultimately in the interest of all University members, since failing to meet deadlines and other infringements of regulations can damage the University’s reputation among funding agencies.

How do we assist with research applications?

Department V will essentially be working from home to avoid social contact and reduce the risk of infection (although some staff such as team leaders, section leaders, and the head of department will continue to work from their offices). We are therefore canceling all face-to-face office hours and kindly request you to refrain from coming to the offices of Department V in person.

However, all sections can be contacted by email as usual.

Department V will strive to maintain its operations as fully and effectively as possible. The following services are provided on a priority basis:

  • Release of funds for staff recruitment
  • Payment requests 
  • Setting up projects
  • Project projections
  • Verification and payment requests
  • Contract reviews and contract negotiations with industrial partners and funding agencies, including telephone consultation service for researchers 
  • All legally binding signatures 
  • Correspondence

Data Protection

What do I need to know and where can I find this information?

TU Berlin's Data Protection Team provides information on its websites regarding issues such as data protection and IT security when working from home, how to join a Webex meeting or about ZOOM video conferencing.

Information about pandemic conditions

What are TU Berlin’s procedures for communicating pandemic regulations?

The University’s Crisis Committee meets regularly to assess the situation. Information letters with binding regulations will continue to be published.

In principle, pandemic regulations are determined by TU Berlin’s phased plan.

The Office of Communication, Events and Alumni will be updating you on the situation at the University on an ongoing basis Please ensure that you visit the TU Berlin website on a daily basis.

Please also make use of the University's main official social media channels: