Technische Universität Berlin

Coronavirus Regulations - Guidelines and Tips

With the commencement of phase 3 “restricted presence – without in-presence teaching” on 18 May 2020, working on the TU Berlin campus will once again be possible. The following applies as a point of principle: All TU staff are to work from home as far as possible. The following regulations apply to working on campus:

Working from home

Incapacity to work due to 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 an existing incapacity to work by this deadline, you also have the option to scan the document as temporary proof of incapacity to work and send it to your staff team as an attachment by email, as a photo from your mobile phone, or by fax.

Information regarding leave of absence:

All units, academic chairs and faculties should continue to complete the form for registering illness (Erkrankungsanzeige) as normal and send to their staff team so that any time 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.

https://www.abt2-t.tu-berlin.de/menue/ueber_uns/beschaeftigte/parameter/en/

Employment contracts

Employment contracts remain unchanged. 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. 

Joint agreement on the scope of responsibilities

The employee and manager are to jointly determine the type and scope of duties to be completed from home. Work packages, scopes for action, and the means and extent of accessibility 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 your 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 tables, 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.

Working times 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.

Tools, data privacy, 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.

Obligations of staff

During the period of restricted operations, staff are required to check their university email address 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 are published there. Should you not be able to access your email inbox, please provide your supervisor with a telephone number where you can be contacted.

Leave

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 demonstrably indispensable 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 indispensable to the University. It is also possible to reschedule periods of approved leave to enable staff to look after their children during the current period of closure affecting schools and childcare facilities.

Persons with pre-existing medical conditions

In work areas with limited opportunities to allow employees to work from home, we ask the immediate supervisor to decide who can work from home and to what extent as prudent. We ask that this is made possible in particular for employees with pre-existing conditions or employees living with persons with pre-existing conditions. This especially includes the risk groups listed by the Robert Koch Institute: https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Risikogruppen.html 

How do I implement mobile working?

There are different options for mobile working:

You can find further services at https://www.campusmanagement.tu-berlin.de/menue/dienste/ 

Deputization regulations

Managers are required to determine clear deputization regulations.

Information about data privacy

Information regarding data privacy is available at https://www.tu-berlin.de/asv/menue/datenschutz/. You can also send an email at  

 

Source: Information letters from TU Berlin's crisis committee

Care days

Time off to care for children can also be used in periods during which daycare centers and schools are closed for holidays.

The regulations published in the bulletin of 29 May 2020 continue to apply.

Working on campus

Under what conditions is working on campus permitted?

Research and administrative staff as well teaching staff for some areas may commence working on the campus again under compliance with

  • the hygiene and protective measures of TU Berlin (www.tu-berlin.de/?214303) and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI),
  • the general conditions presented here for working on campus and from home
  • and the action plans and staff rosters to be drawn up by individual organizational units

Managers and supervisors are responsible for drawing up action plans and staff rosters for their unit on the basis of the 

  • hygiene and protective measures of TU Berlin and the RKI
  • as well as the general conditions for working on campus and from home

Management are further responsible for ensuring strict compliance with their action plans and the hygiene and protective measures of TU Berlin.

Can I alternate between working from home and on campus?

Depending on your organizational unit, it may be possible to alternate between working 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 following conditions are met:
An appropriate plan of action or staff roster must be devised for each organizational unit. This must include

  • Implementation of the hygiene and protective measures of TU Berlin (www.tu-berlin.de/?214303) and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)
  • Details of the conditions in the specific areas
  • The requirements of the employer
  • The needs of staff members

How should offices or work spaces be organized?

The hygiene and protective measures published by TU Berlin in its bulletin of 5 May 2020 stated that work areas are, wherever possible, not to 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 are sufficiently aired, if possible on a continual basis, and that minimum distances are maintained between work spaces, by reorganizing furniture or introducing plexiglass if necessary. We also strongly recommend that you wear face masks, even when observing minimum distancing regulations. 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.

The hygiene and protective measures published in the bulletin of 5 May otherwise continue to apply.

An office, lab or workshop may however be used by two or more persons at the same time if sufficiently spacious 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 head of 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 regulated 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?

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.

As a matter of principle, staff should avoid meeting 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, the minimum distancing regulations are complied with and suitable spaces in terms of size and the presence of cross ventilation are chosen for meetings. However, digital formats are preferred (video or telephone conferencing).

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 are the recommendations for traveling to campus?

We strongly recommend you avoid the use of public transport and instead use private transport for the journey to and from the University (such as a bicycle) or walk.

Dealing with at-risk groups

The coronavirus bulletin of 14 May 2020 stated that staff suffering from an illness classified by the RKI as associated with an increased risk of a more serious development of a coronavirus infection and who are therefore not able to work on campus during the period of restricted in-presence operations will, upon presentation of a medical certificate, be exempted from having to work in presence.

It may be that staff belonging to an at-risk group would prefer to work on campus. If as a manager 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 and the possibility of seeking advice from the TU Medical Service. Advising 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.

Official Trips

With immediate effect, it is now possible to recommence official trips abroad, provided they are absolutely essential.

This does not include regions classified as risk areas or for which travel warnings have been issued on the websites of the Robert Koch Institute and the Federal Foreign Office. Official trips to these areas are still not permitted.

Field trips can be recommenced to areas beyond Berlin and Brandenburg, taking account of defined risk areas and regions for which a travel warning exists. Until further notice, you are required to submit an application for excursions to the vice president for teaching at vp-sl(at)tu-berlin.de, providing details of the program and how you propose to maintain distancing.

Staging public and scientific events at TU Berlin

From 1 October, it will be possible to stage smaller scientific events unter certain conditions

On 21 July 2020, the Berlin Senate agreed an amendment to the SARS-CoV-2 Infection Protection Act. On the basis of the revised act, the Executive Board at TU Berlin wishes to enable scientific symposia, workshops and smaller conferences to take place in selected rooms at the University during the winter semester. A corresponding decision was taken on 4 August 2020. 

From 1 October until further notice, it will be possible to stage smaller scientific events in selected lecture halls and conference rooms with suitable ventilation. Up to 100 participants may attend, provided the rooms and hygiene regulations permit. The primary focus of all such events must be the scientific work involved in a research project. External guests may also attend. Ideally, digital attendance should also be possible to minimize or avoid contact and travel.   

The following must be observed for these events:

  1. The general protective and hygiene regulations for TU Berlin are to be adhered to
  2. Events may not last more than half a day (in other words a maximum of four hours including the time required to disinfect areas before and after the event)
  3. Face masks covering mouth and nose must be worn for the entire duration of the event
  4. Only lectures or workshop formats are permitted
  5. Coat check facilities and information stands are not permitted and it is not allowed to hand out material
  6. Catering is not permitted
  7. Open areas (such as foyers and the atrium) may not be used
  8. Participants may only be registered for the purpose of documenting attendance as per Section 3 (1) no. 8 of the SARS-CoV-2 Infection Protection Act. If possible, this should be done using a digital format.
  9. Gatherings of larger groups for longer period of times must be strictly avoided.

The Event Management team will shortly provide a form online for registering events to be held from 1 October onwards. This can be downloaded via www.tu-berlin.de/?id=29049.

When registering, it is necessary to attach a hygiene concept which clearly demonstrates that TU Berlin hygiene regulations will be maintained. Both Occupational Health and Safety Services and Environmental Protection and the University Medical Service are available for advice.

Information regarding the number of places available for an event room is provided by Event Management.

Internal requirements for academic chairs have priority when booking event rooms.

Regulations are subject to change and will be adapted according to how the pandemic develops. In principle, teaching and examinations have priority in the allocation of rooms at TU Berlin.

All public and scientific events are canceled up until and including 30 September 2020 (cf. Section 7 (5) SARS-CoV-2 Infection Protection Act.

Hygiene and protective measures info sheet

Cooperation

Please help to keep the risk of coronavirus infection as low as possible by complying with the following hygiene and protection regulations.

Restricting contact

Continue to minimize your physical social contact to your colleagues.

Minimum distance

Maintain a minimum distance of 2 meters to others at all times as far as operations permit. This also applies to examinations, labs and workshops, offices, waiting areas, corridors and pathways, and elevators etc. Management and supervisors are required to ensure that these regulations are complied with by, for example, organizing work so that only one member of staff is working in an office or implementing a rotating shift system for areas with more than one member of staff and where the minimum distance cannot be observed. In areas of the campus where larger numbers of people gather, such as libraries, protective construction measures such as the installation of plexiglass screens are to be implemented in agreement with the building department.  

Opening doors

Avoid touching door handles, door knobs and door openers when entering buildings or rooms. Try instead to open doors using your elbows or forearms.  

Washing hands and hand care

Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly (minimum 30 seconds) with soap and then apply a cream to your hands to protect the skin.

Face masks (mouth and nose protection)

Face masks are to be worn at all times in public areas of the buildings of TU Berlin, such as on the way to and from your office or when visiting restrooms. It is also strongly recommended to wear face masks in your work area if you are not working alone in an office. It is, however, essential that you continue to observe distancing regulations even when wearing a face mask. Avoid touching your face mask so as not to contaminate it.

Sneezing and coughing

Observe the correct procedure when sneezing and coughing. Sneeze and cough into your elbow even if wearing a face mask.

Airing rooms

Air rooms regularly (every 30-45 minutes) and thoroughly. This applies particularly to rooms with more than one person. According to the Charité, it is not necessary to air rooms with air conditioning.

List of participants

A list of participants is to be drawn up and retained for four weeks by the organizer for meetings involving the physical presence of more than one person. Please ensure that you have the participants´ business telephone numbers or email addresses so that they can be traced and contacted if necessary. Such lists are purely to allow the health authority to trace individuals if an infection is subsequently detected in one of the participants.

Cleaning workspaces and work materials used by more than one person

As far as possible, work spaces should not be used by more than one person. Should this not be possible (for example in workshops with shared equipment, rotating use of shared offices, examinations, etc.), areas such as surfaces and tables and work materials used by more than one person are to be disinfected appropriately.
Examples:

  • Workshops: Tools must be disinfected after use by the members of staff who have used them.
  • Offices: Telephones, keyboards, mouses and tables are to be disinfected before and after use. The user screens of multi-function printers should also be cleaned regularly.
  • Oral examinations: The table used by the candidate is to be disinfected after each examination. The same applies to any items made available for the purpose of the examination.
  • PC labs Keyboard, mouse and table must be disinfected after every use.

Kitchens

Kitchens are only to be used by one person at a time, particularly if too small to allow minimum distancing to be complied with. It is particularly important that hygiene regulations are observed. Surfaces are to be disinfected after use.

Instructing staff

Managers are obligated to adapt regulations to the circumstances and conditions in their units and to inform their staff of all points (this must be documented pursuant to Section 12 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act).

Disinfectant

Sanitizer for disinfecting surfaces is to be made available for staff and examination boards as they may be required to disinfect an area several times a day, depending on the work area or the number of examinations being conducted, etc. 

Obtaining hygiene material

Disinfectant and cloths used for applying disinfectant are to be collected in person from the Hygiene Storage Facility by staff or students upon presentation of their staff or student ID. Empty disinfectant containers must be returned. The Hygiene Storage Facility is open Mon - Fri from 7:00 until 15:00. It is located on the ground floor of the EW Building (room 001b). For instructions on how to use disinfectant, please see www.tu-berlin.de/?141798. Face masks may also be obtained from the Hygiene Storage Facility. Please note that only restricted quantities of hygiene materials may be issued per person. 

What to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms

Persons exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms (low-grade fever, symptoms of a cold, shortage of breath) should leave their workplace and/or remain at home until they have been examined by a doctor and contact their supervisor so that they can continue to work from home. We would ask everyone to check their state of health before commencing work so as not to expose their colleagues and the people they come into contact with on the way to work to danger.

Further Information

Please also inform yourself of the regular updates to the recommendations issued by the RKI and the Federal Center for Health Education (in German) and be aware of the fact that decisions taken by the Berlin Senate can result in amendments to recommendations and regulations and that these then have priority.

Advice is available at any time from the University Medical Service and Occupational Health and Safety Services and Environmental Protection (in German).