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Coronavirus II – Employers may not prevent the wearing of masks and gloves

The coronavirus crisis has reached the German labour courts. The Berlin labour court recently had to rule on a dispute between a duty-free shop operator and its works council.

At the start of the coronavirus crisis, during working hours, the staff at the duty-free shop had begun wearing masks and gloves for incoming flights from China. The employer issued a ban on wearing such protective clothing. In the opinion of the works council, by issuing the ban the employer had also flouted the rights of co-determination; the works council applied for a preliminary injunction to be issued with the aim of having the ban revoked.

However, shortly before the oral proceedings, the employer did however clarify that there was no such ban. The wearing of gloves would be expressly allowed. The works council viewed this statement as an admission and declared that the proceedings had been conclusively resolved. The labour court concurred with this view in its decision from 4.3.2020 (case reference: 55 BVGa 2341/20) and thus asked the employer in turn, within ten days, likewise to declare that the proceedings had been conclusively resolved.

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