Countries want to cut wages for unvaccinated people

Berlin Unvaccinated employees can no longer count on state compensation for loss of earnings in the event of quarantine. The federal and state health ministers want to reach a joint agreement on Wednesday next week.

This was announced by Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) at an event organized by the “Rheinische Post”. Several federal states have already pushed ahead with corresponding regulations – and refer to the sometimes high costs that arise from compensation in the case of quarantine.

It is about “achieving a uniform regulation”, said Bavaria’s Minister of Health Klaus Holetschek (CSU) on Tuesday in Munich, who also chairs the conference of health ministers. He assumed that such an agreement could take effect among the countries by the beginning of October at the latest.

Holetschek referred to the Infection Protection Act, which from his point of view clearly regulates compensation in the event of a quarantine. Accordingly, there is no entitlement for an employee who could have avoided quarantine through vaccination. Spahn, too, had basically shown sympathy for such an argument and explained it, but it was up to the federal states to handle it. Calls for a uniform approach had also been heard from the federal states.

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In Baden-Württemberg, unvaccinated people can expect no more compensation for a loss of earnings from Wednesday. The regulation has so far cost the state government 77 million euros.

There is a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”, the Baden-Württemberg Minister of Health Manfred Lucha (Greens) justified the decision on “Deutschlandfunk”. It is about the principle of solidarity. Everyone who pays taxes would have to pay for the service. “And now everyone who has unfortunately not been vaccinated so far is also deciding that they can no longer have this state solidarity at their disposal.”

Inconsistent regulations

In Rhineland-Palatinate and Bremen, compensation for loss of earnings is due to expire on October 1, and in North Rhine-Westphalia on October 11. Hesse’s Prime Minister Volker Bouffier had spoken out in favor of restricting the rights of unvaccinated people – including unvaccinated workers who are in quarantine.

“There is only compensation if it was unavoidable for the person concerned. So it is already in the law. I don’t want to rush this, but I agree with the basic idea, ”said the CDU politician to the Handelsblatt. The state has already paid almost 53 million euros in compensation.

Countries such as Thuringia, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt are again striving for a nationwide uniform solution – and hope for the meeting of health ministers in the coming week. The social authority responsible in Hamburg, however, announced that there are currently no considerations in this direction. The state has already paid more than 20 million euros in compensation. Saxony paid a similar amount (25 million euros).

The linchpin for a wage freeze is a passage in the Infection Protection Act. According to this, people receive a state wage replacement benefit if they have to be in quarantine at home on official instructions and therefore cannot work and no longer receive wages.

However, the law also states that you are not entitled to compensation if the failure could have been avoided by a recommended vaccination. So far, payments have been made in these cases anyway – also because initially not enough corona vaccine was available. As part of a vaccination campaign week, citizens have been able to get vaccinated against the coronavirus at places they visit every day since Monday. So the last faltering vaccination speed should be increased.

A plethora of conditions

With hundreds of vaccination campaigns, the federal, state and local governments target unvaccinated people – a vaccination appointment is usually not needed. In view of the “widespread availability” of Covid vaccines, the loss of the right to compensation for unvaccinated people is justified, said the Bonn labor lawyer Gregor Thüsing the Handelsblatt. However, there must be exceptions for people who actually cannot be vaccinated.

The Berlin constitutional lawyer Christian Pestalozza named further conditions. Pestalozza told Handelsblatt that there had to be a period between the entry into force of the new regulation and the sanction that would allow the previously unvaccinated to react to the imminent sanction. He must have the opportunity to get vaccinated. “Without such a transitional arrangement, the sanction would have an inadmissible retroactive effect.”

The question of a transition period shows how inconsistent the federal states are in some cases. For example, Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia announced that such a deadline was not necessary – and refer to the Infection Protection Act. The Ministry of Social Affairs in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, on the other hand, stated that a transition period of six weeks would be sought. In Bremen, employees have a transition period of around two weeks. In the vaccination campaign, everyone should be given the opportunity to immunize themselves again.

As a further condition, the constitutional lawyer Pestalozza mentioned that there should be no medical reasons against the vaccination of the person concerned. In addition, the vaccination offer must be reasonable in terms of time and location. In addition, the person concerned must not be prevented from taking advantage of a vaccination offer for “understandable reasons”, for example because of a stay abroad.

Federal states such as Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are planning to create a transitional regulation for such cases and with appropriate evidence. In North Rhine-Westphalia, too, unvaccinated people can count on continued payment of their wages in the event of a quarantine after a stay abroad.

“After returning to Germany there is an option to be vaccinated. If this is not used, the right to continued payment of wages lapses after a reasonable period of time if a vaccination that is now possible is not used, ”said the responsible Ministry of Health.

Criticism of restrictive measures

The Leipzig constitutional lawyer Christoph Degenhardt considers a stop of quarantine compensation to be permissible only in cases when people who have not been vaccinated “consciously” go to a corona hotspot. Then the loss of continued wages would have to be accepted, Degenhardt told the Handelsblatt. As an example, he cited travelers returning from a so-called high incidence area. They would have to bear the “consequences of their independent action” themselves.

From the point of view of the constitutional lawyer, there are legal limits for other unvaccinated persons. “It is not acceptable to generally treat unvaccinated people as troublemakers,” said Degenhardt. The term comes from police and security law and says that whoever has created a dangerous situation must accept measures to avert danger.

In the case of unvaccinated people, Degenhardt is critical of restrictive measures in this regard. Nobody is obliged to get vaccinated, he pointed out. The fact that unvaccinated people have to go into quarantine after contact with infected people on official instructions does not change that. “According to these principles, you are not yet a disturber and you cannot lose your right to compensation for this alone,” he said.

More: Corona appeal by the Chancellor: “Get vaccinated. Now.”