Research and work

Information, updates and questions

The coronavirus is having an impact on work at FAU. For many of us, this means remote working, video conferences and cancellations of business trips and training courses. Please refer to this page for important updates, information and questions concerning research and work during the coronavirus pandemic at FAU.

Certain regulations and procedures have changed in several departments due to the current situation. Please refer directly to the departments’ websites.

General information

It is still the case that employees ought to be allowed to work remotely in accordance with the measures introduced by the Bavarian State Ministry of Finance and Home Affairs in light of the coronavirus pandemic, provided the smooth running of operations is not disrupted, technical requirements are met and data protection is guaranteed. However, as FAU is returning to face-to-face teaching in winter semester 2021/22, students and teaching staff should be able to consult members of staff responsible for services relating to studying and teaching in person and on campus. Please discuss with your manager how to ensure that that is the case in your area.

There is still currently no general obligation to work on site. However, you are welcome to work on site again even if there is no pressing operational reason to do so. The latest rules for working on site give employees much more freedom than was previously the case.

If it is not absolutely necessary for you to be present on site and you would like to continue working remotely, your manager can approve remote working directly, provided data protection provisions are complied with.

  • Please note that any documents taken out of the office must be transported in a closed container or closed bag and must be stored securely to prevent unauthorised access by third parties, including family members, whenever you are not currently working on them, for example in a lockable cupboard.
  • If the work carried out remotely does not take up 100% of your individual working time, checks must be made as to whether the remaining time can be used to carry out other tasks suitable for working remotely such as drawing up concepts, reviewing documents, training, etc.).

There is still currently no general obligation to work on site. However, with the legal obligation to work from home ceasing to apply as of 1 July 2021, employees can choose to return to work in the office, provided hygiene guidance is complied with at all times.

Human Resources is currently working with the General Staff Council to draw up a new agreement on working remotely for non-academic staff. Our experiences from working remotely as a result of the pandemic will be taken into account.[/notice-hinweis]

End of the waiver to record working time: Since 27 July 2020, staff are expected to record working time again in areas where this is required. This regulation may change depending on the development of infections and further measures announced by the Bavarian State Ministry for Science and the Arts.

Exceptions to the requirement of recording working time: If as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic you still have to care for children due to restrictions in the opening hours of schools or childcare facilities or for relatives due to shortages in the support they normally receive, you can ask your manager for permission to continue working without recording the hours worked. The offices responsible for tracking employees’ working hours must be informed of your decision not to record the hours you have worked. You cannot choose a combination of recording and not recording hours worked. If you choose not to record your working hours you cannot build up overtime.

Legal situation for public servants

Private travel abroad cannot be forbidden under public service law, as this concerns the public servant’s conduct outside the workplace. All that applies in this instance for public servants and employees alike is the Infection Protection Law. By the same token, requests for leave cannot be rejected (even if the destination is known). In their own interests, however, it does not make sense for employees of the state of Bavaria to travel abroad if they would be required to enter quarantine when they return in accordance with the Immigration Quarantine Regulations (EQV) and this quarantine period is not covered by the annual leave they have already had approved.

If a public servant does go on a journey during the period of validity of the Immigration Quarantine Regulations even though the Immigration Quarantine Regulations stipulate a compulsory quarantine period on their return, this is considered inappropriate conduct. A release from the obligation to work is therefore not permitted. However, remote working is still permitted in accordance with the official regulations.

If it is not possible to work (fully) from home, the public servant is required in their own interests to take leave for the (remainder of the) quarantine period or, if this is not possible, to apply for special leave entailing the withdrawal of employer contributions with the exception of welfare benefits (Section 13 (2)(1)(2) clause UrlMV). If they fail to do so, the quarantine period is considered an unexcused absence and remuneration can be withheld accordingly. The problem is not the quarantine itself, but rather the deliberate decision to put yourself in a situation where you are obliged to enter quarantine during the work period following your period of leave, although it was clear from the outset that quarantine rules would apply.

However, the following cases do not automatically entail inappropriate conduct. In these instances, the normal measures for the welfare of members of staff must be offered, including a release from the obligation to work:

  1. Cancellation costs: At the time the journey was booked, no quarantine was required in accordance with the Immigration Quarantine Regulations. Once it was clear that quarantine would be necessary, it was no longer possible to cancel the journey free of charge.
  2. Visiting relatives: The journey is necessary to care for your own children under the age of 18, to give relatives necessary medical care or to support a relative receiving end of life care within the meaning of Section 4 BayBG.
  3. Protection of own property: The journey is necessary for the purposes of protecting your own property (e.g. measures following a break-in or damage caused by severe weather).

In view of the possibility to work remotely, to extend annual leave or to take unpaid special leave, there only remain a few constellations in which disciplinary action may need to be considered.

If members of staff have travelled abroad for private reasons in spite of quarantine restrictions stipulated in the Immigration Quarantine Regulations, this may be classed a breach of duty if quarantine obligations mean they are unable to work upon their return, irrespective of symptoms of illness. If it is also suspected that the public servant has wilfully caused the inability to return to work, their manager must initiate disciplinary action pursuant to Section 19 BayDG. Within the context of disciplinary discretion, according to Section 14 BayDG all circumstances have to be taken into account in each individual instance. The reason for and duration of the journey and all steps members of staff have taken to try to surmount the obstacle to work can all be taken into account.

If you work remotely or take leave for the duration of the quarantine period, then this is naturally not classed as a breach of duty due to an unexcused absence. The same applies if one of the exceptional circumstances listed in nos. 1 – 3 above apply.

Legal position for employees

The rules outlined above also apply to employees.

A formal warning will only be issued in exceptional circumstances (e.g. in repeated incidences or in the case of managers).

Sources

Dino mug, writing materials on desk, headphones

Image: FAU/CH

Most staff at FAU are currently working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is an important measure to slow the spread of the virus. However, working from home is a challenge for many. Here are some tips and advice to help you work effectively from home.

Everyday work

You can find information about this on our “Hygiene guidance”-website.

When purchasing FFP2 masks, please attach the FFP2 mask procurement form and the invoice to the payment order. When purchasing surgical masks, no further proof is required apart from the invoice.

The rules surrounding procurement of goods and services have been simplified in view of the coronavirus pandemic. The validity of these regulations for simplified procurement during the coronavirus pandemic has been extended beyond 31 December 2020 to 31 December 2021. Further information is available on the H – Finance and Property Management website.

With DFNconf, a Jitsi server operated locally at the Erlangen Regional Computing Centre (RRZE), MS Teams and Zoom, FAU has various web conference platforms which you can choose from depending on what you need them for. An overview is available on the RRZE website . Information on coaching sessions is available on the ILI website ‘schnell digital’.

The practical guidelines from DGUV provide instructions for in-house first aiders on giving first aid whilst complying with measures for preventing infection.

The German Resuscitation Council (GRC) has amended its guidelines for resuscitation due to the current pandemic. The aim of these measures is to ensure maximum protection against Covid-19 for laypeople carrying out first aid or for medical staff.

In accordance with the guidelines, resuscitation performed by laypeople and first aiders on casualties not known to them should be limited to cardiac massage and the use of publicly accessible automated external defibrillators (AED). Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation should not be used in these cases.

For the resuscitation of children, the guidelines advise the following: ‘Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation plays an important role for children requiring resuscitation […]. The decision to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation should be made […] with the awareness of a potential risk of infection.’

Further information is available on the website of the Occupational Medical Service.

Although many of FAU’s staff are currently working from home, some of them are still coming to the University to work, research and teach.

Managers and teaching staff can complete a form online to inform G – Facility Management which rooms are currently being used in which buildings. This will enable us to ensure these rooms are being used in the best way possible during the corona pandemic. Further information

Booking spaces and making reservations with RSVP

In addition to using ‘darfichrein.de’ for recording contact details (updated: 1 October 2020) FAU also intends to use another system for places where space, resources or time is limited and where all users have to reserve a space or a time in advance. This applies, for example, to consultation hours, work spaces that have special equipment, laboratories and also some work spaces in the library. The Erlangen Regional Computing Centre (RRZE) has programmed the RSVP plug-in for this purpose, which has a reservation function. Contact details are also collected when this function is used.

RSVP will be available to all FAU organisational units that use the central CMS system (WordPress) for their website. You will then be able to offer reservations for work spaces, resources and appointments directly on your website and provide information about occupancy so that students and staff can find out whether there are any free spaces before they travel to a location.

Users do not need to enter any personal data and the system complies with all the relevant data protection requirements. RSVP is also fully accessible according to the requirements of BayEGovV (Bayerische E-Government-Verordnung – Bavarian E-Government Regulations). Instructions and further information about RSVP are available at https://www.wordpress.rrze.fau.de/plugins/rsvp/. Please contact webmaster@fau.de if you have any questions or require any assistance.

RSVP will be expanded during the coming weeks and months and will be made available by RRZE in the long term as an optional tool in the central CMS service. The included contact data collection feature will be removed once the measures for combating the coronavirus come to an end.

Research

Funding providers such as the DFG and AiF have published information in respect of the coronavirus pandemic. These have been collected in the Administration Handbook on the H3 – Finance and Property Management website.

Occupational Safety offers information on measures and advice as well as specific guidelines for working in research or workshop areas in the Administration Handbook.

Measures relating to employment and public service law/reporting obligations

Information on legal measures that apply to employees who have contracted Covid-19 or who are suspected of having contracted the virus is given in the following sections. You should read this information carefully even if your place of employment is not currently affected.

Breaking the chain of transmission quickly helps the University to remain operational and may prevent potential closures. All managers and employees can contribute by reacting quickly to changes in their own health or the health of others but also by following preventative measures such as observing the hygiene regulations.

In principle, the health authorities are responsible for contact tracing in the case of infected individuals or suspected cases and implementing any measures required. However, valuable time may be lost before the health authorities take measures such as ordering a quarantine period. It is possible that during this time continued contact with infected individuals or suspected cases at work can cause other colleagues to become infected. For this reason, we ask managers to make employees aware of their own responsibility to inform immediate contacts in the case of infection or of a suspected infection, to avoid further contact with others, and if necessary to self-isolate following consultation with their manager or wear a face mask consistently. To assist the health authorities with contact tracing, affected employees should consider in advance with whom they have been in contact, when (number of days since), where (corridor, laboratory), for how long (more or less than15 min), distance (more or less than 1.5m) and if they were wearing a face mask.

In the event of a viral infection, public servants and employees are deemed unfit for work. Public servants who are unfit for work continue to be paid. Employees who are unfit for work continue to have their salary paid for a period of six weeks.

Please submit the usual form to report that you are unfit for work and ensure that Human Resources (P) are notified of a coronavirus infection in an anonymised form (for example via your manager or faculty administration to meet the reporting obligation required by the Bavarian State Ministry of Science and the Arts.)

The health authorities will usually arrange for a coronavirus swab test and order a quarantine period. Quarantine periods can only be ended by the health authorities; currently 10 days after symptoms occur and after 48 hours without symptoms at the earliest.

Employees may only return to work after the quarantine period has been ended by the health authorities.

In order to make it clearer, we would like to provide you with a breakdown of each of the possible instances of a suspected case of infection:

The following applies to members of staff with symptoms (unspecific general symptoms or respiratory problems irrespective of severity) who have been in contact with a person who has contracted the coronavirus:

  • Employees are considered ill and unfit for work until it can be clarified whether or not they have contracted the coronavirus.
  • Public servants are considered ill and unfit for service until it can be clarified whether or not they have contracted the coronavirus.

You must take the following measures:

  • Inform the relevant health authorities without delay (hotline of the Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority: +49 9131 6805101)
  • Contact your family doctor (GP) or the on-call medical service (phone: 116 117) by phone without delay.
  • Notify your manager of your illness.

Coronavirus swab tests are conducted by your doctor or the health authority where applicable. You must always seek further medical advice if you experience a sudden loss of taste or smell. You may only return to work when you are fit to do so (usually 24 to 48 hours without symptoms). You must present a negative coronavirus test.

The following applies to members of staff with symptoms (unspecific general symptoms or respiratory problems irrespective of severity) who are entering the Free State of Bavaria from a high-risk area within the last 14 days.

  • 14 days quarantine in their own home or other suitable accommodation
  • Employees are considered ill and unfit for work until it can be clarified whether or not they have contracted the coronavirus.
  • Public servants are considered ill and unfit for service until it can be clarified whether or not they have contracted the coronavirus.

You must take the following measures:

    • Inform the relevant health authorities without delay (hotline of the Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority: +49 9131 6805101)
    • Contact your family doctor (GP) or the on-call medical service (phone: 116 117) by phone without delay.
    • Notify your manager of your illness.

Coronavirus swab tests are conducted by your doctor or the health authority where applicable. You must always seek further medical advice if you experience a sudden loss of taste or smell. You may only return to work when you are fit to do so (usually 24 to 48 hours without symptoms). You must present a negative coronavirus test.

Members of staff without symptoms who have been in contact with someone who has contracted the coronavirus must report without delay to the relevant health authorities. You can find the health authority responsible for your area using the search tool on the RKI website. For general enquiries, you can call the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety hotline on 09131/68085101.

From now on, only close contacts that carry a higher risk of infection will be traced, following current guidance from the RKI. A distinction will no longer be made between contact persons of category 1 and 2.

Contact persons are now defined as close contacts that carry a higher risk of infections when one of the following criteria apply:

  • Close contact (<1.5 m) for longer than 10 minutes without adequate protection*
  • Conversation with the infected person (irrelevant of duration) without adequate protection*
  • The contact person and the infected person were in the same room with a likely high concentration of infectious aerosols for longer than 10 minutes regardless of the distance maintained. This applies even if the correct surgical masks or FFP2 masks were worn.

*Adequate protection is defined as the contact person and the infected person wearing either a surgical or FFP2 mask where applicable.

The following measures shall apply to working hours

  • Remote working (provided data protection provisions are observed and IT security guaranteed) until the quarantine period has been ended by the health authorities if applicable.
  • Otherwise, release from the obligation to work for 14 days.

You must also take the following measures

  • Consult your manager and obtain permission to work remotely if necessary

Further information is available on the RKI website.

Staff without symptoms who have entered the State of Bavaria after spending time in a high-risk area in the last 14 days:

  • Individuals are responsible for notifying the health authorities for their place of residence following their return from a high-risk area and must observe any measures required by the health authorities.
  • Quarantine in their own home or other suitable accommodation. Exceptions to these rules are stipulated in the Immigration Quarantine Regulations (Einreise-Quarantäneverordnung).
  • If applicable, test in accordance with the current Immigration Quarantine Regulations by their doctor (to shorten the quarantine period)
  • 14 days remote working (provided data protection provisions are observed and IT security guaranteed)
  • If the employee’s presence is absolutely essential at FAU and no symptoms are present and quarantine measures are not required (by the Immigration Quarantine Regulations or the health authorities): Avoid contact, maintain the minimum distance and wear a face mask (without an exhalation valve) consistently.

You must take the following measures:

  • Consult your manager

If you have not been declared unfit to work:

  • Consult your manager
  • Work remotely (provided data protection provisions are observed and IT security guaranteed)
  • If your presence is essential at FAU: Avoid contact with others, maintain minimum distance and wear a face mask consistently (without an exhalation valve)
  • If symptoms persist, you should ask your doctor for a coronavirus test if applicable, you must always seek further medical advice if you experience a sudden loss of taste or smell.
  • You may return to work in person following a negative test result or 24–48 hours without symptoms.

If a Covid-19 test is required for an official duty or business trip abroad you must contact the Occupational Medical Service at the earliest opportunity.

The Occupational Medical Service are also available to answer telephone enquiries on 09131 8523666.

If your test result is positive, you must self-isolate immediately and avoid any contact with other people as much as possible. If you did not take the test at home, you must go home straight away using the most direct route. Please observe social distancing and hygiene rules during the journey. To confirm the result of the self-test, make an appointment for a PCR test without delay by contacting either your general practitioner or by phoning the ‘Kassenärztliche Vereinigung’ on 116 117. You will be given instructions on how to proceed further.

If you have not been declared unfit to work:

  • Consult your manager and work remotely (provided data protection provisions are observed and IT security guaranteed)

If public servants are obliged to self-isolate on the orders of the health authorities in Germany pursuant to section 30 IfSG (Infection Protection Law) and are unable to report for duty/work as a result, the following applies: public servants must work remotely if possible (providing that they are able to work). Leave may only be granted according to Section 10 paragraph (1) sentence (2) UrlMV (remuneration will continue to be paid) if they cannot work remotely.

The same applies to all staff.

Public servants who are abroad and are unable to return to Germany due to orders issued by security authorities regarding quarantine measures are released from the obligation to work pursuant to section 10 (1)(2) URIMV and are under no obligation to make up for working time lost as a result. The same applies to employees. An informal application to the Department of Human Resources for release from the obligation to work is required, and the superior has to be informed.

Public servants who are abroad for business travel and are unable to return home due to orders issued by security authorities are released from the obligation to work pursuant to section 10 (1)(2) (URIMV) and are under no obligation to make up for working time lost as a result. The same applies to employees. An informal application to the Department of Human Resources for release from the obligation to work is required. Please also inform your superior.

1. Release from the obligation to work – special coronavirus regulations at Bavarian authorities

Members of staff who are required to stay at home to care for their children due to the general closure of schools and childcare facilities may be granted leave and are under no obligation to make up for working time lost as a result, providing that all of the following apply:

  1. Operational circumstances permit the employee to be granted leave
  2. Remote working is not possible
  3. Leave is necessary to ensure the adequate provision of childcare.

This regulation applies not only to a general closure but also if teaching or supervision is offered on a limited rather than regular basis.

Leave will only be deemed necessary to ensure the adequate provision of childcare when the employee has exhausted all alternative options. Under these conditions, individuals aged over 60 will not be considered as able to provide replacement childcare. All employees should consider the options of using flexible working time or requesting leave for some of their working hours or days.

The obligation to provide childcare must be clearly explained and verified, especially for children that are aged 14 and above. There is no fixed age limit for the above rules, the decisive factor is the extent to which each individual child requires care.

Requests for leave or an extension to leave must be made informally to your manager. Proof of the closure must be attached to the informal application for leave, unless the closure is common knowledge. The relevant office at P – Human Resources must be informed of the application for leave.

Employees are not generally permitted to bring their children with them to the workplace. Under certain exceptional circumstances and only if there is no other option to ensure the continuation of operations, parents may be permitted to take their children with them to work temporarily.

The release from the obligation to work does not apply to school holidays.

2. Release from the obligation to work pursuant to Section 45 SGB V (German Social Security Code V), extension of entitlement to child sickness benefits

Information on the extension of entitlement to child sickness benefits pursuant to Section 45 SGB V is available (in German) in the Human Resources Handbook: https://www.intern.fau.de/personal-und-arbeitsleben/krankheit-und-arbeitsunfaehigkeit/erkrankung-eines-kindes-des-oder-der-beschaeftigten/. If you require advice in this regard either in your position as a manager or an employee, please contact the appropriate HR department (P2 for full-time academic staff and public servants, P3 for part-time academic staff, P4 for non-academic staff, P5 for ZUV staff).

Measures for vulnerable members of staff, for example those with underlying health issues entailing an increased risk of infection from Covid-19 (e.g. Leukaemia, diabetes, lung disease), should be coordinated with their doctor. If you would like, you can arrange an appointment at the Occupational Medical Service to discuss your individual situation.

The extent to which a pregnant woman can be employed whilst observing the ‘standard’ maternity protection regulations and current hygiene regulations ought to be determined on the basis of a risk assessment taking the regional and local situation with respect to the pandemic and the individual circumstances in each case into account. The same applies to the lifting of a prohibition of employment on the basis of the current rate of infection.

Further information:

a) Private travel abroad cannot be forbidden under public service law, as this concerns the public servant’s conduct outside the workplace. All that applies in this instance for public servants and employees alike is the Infection Protection Law. By the same token, requests for leave cannot be rejected (even if the destination is known). However, it is in the member of staff’s own interests not to travel abroad, as long as a travel warning from the German Foreign Office related to the coronavirus applies or a quarantine period would be required on return according to Immigration Quarantine Regulations (EQV). This most definitely applies when travelling with children.

b) Public servants will not be released from the obligation to work due to quarantine measures required by another country or difficulty returning from another country as a consequence of private travel.

c) The usual recommendations for good hygiene should be observed.

d) Please be aware that coronavirus tests following private travel to high-risk areas will not be provided by the University. This also applies to individuals who are returning to Bavaria from other states within Germany following private travel over the holiday period.

Further information is given above.

Members of staff in direct contact to people working from home upon orders of another employer are obliged to work as normal:

  • Remote working (provided data protection provisions are observed and IT security guaranteed) is possible if approved by their manager.

Members of staff with relatives who absolutely require care and who cannot arrange for care to be provided in any other way:

  • Remote working (provided data protection provisions are observed and IT security guaranteed)
  • If that is not possible, then release from the obligation to work (remuneration will continue to be paid)

If you require a release from the obligation to work, please submit an informal application to your manager setting out the need to provide care. Your manager will approve the application after checking with human resources.

If you have a certain role which means that you work at Universitätsklinikum Erlangen (e.g. as part of a research collaboration, doctoral thesis, clinical work whilst studying medicine), the instructions issued by Universitätsklinikum Erlangen will apply to you. Please check the staff portal of Universitätsklinikum Erlangen.

Please send an e-mail without delay to P2 (full-time academic staff and public servants), P3 (part-time academic staff) or P4 (non-academic staff) at Human Resources if one or more persons at your institution have tested positive for Covid-19 (cf. item 1 ‘Measures relating to employment and public service law’). Please only include the number of employees affected; further information is not required.

FAU is obliged to record this data for the Bavarian State Ministry of Science and the Arts.

If it is possible that Covid-19 may have been contracted whilst at work, this should be reported together with the contact details and position of the member of staff in question in order to check whether statutory accident insurance is liable for covering costs.

If you have any questions regarding measures under employment or public service law, please contact P2, P3 or P4. Please also forward applications for a release from the obligation to work to them.

Business travel

Journeys for the purposes of university business and continuing education are still possible during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, some guidelines must be followed. According to the requirements of the Ministry of Finance, business trips may only be approved if they are absolutely necessary, and video conferences and conference calls must be used instead wherever possible. To make the procedure as simple as possible, the member of staff’s immediate superior must provide written confirmation that the business trip is absolutely necessary. Professors are responsible for assessing the situation themselves and take the decision at their own risk. This also applies to a general authorisation for business travel.

An informal notice stating why the trip is absolutely necessary should be attached to the travel authorisation form.

Journeys between Erlangen, Nuremberg and Fürth for business purposes are generally approved. No difference is made between journeys to another FAU location or to an external institution/company. Unlike official business travel, there is no need to submit a travel authorisation form for approval. Short journeys such as these do not require written confirmation that they are absolutely necessary. However, you are responsible for weighing up the risks as a result of the pandemic and considering whether it is absolutely necessary for you to travel.

Please proceed as follows if travel expenses have already been incurred for events which have been cancelled or for journeys which have been planned and approved for the purposes of university business or continuing education but now have to be cancelled:

All reasonable measures must be taken to keep expenses incurred to a minimum as soon as the cancellation is announced; prior contractual arrangements should be cancelled (without charge) where possible. This also applies to all business travel that has ended prematurely.

The following action is recommended:

  • Please note that irrespective of the service provider’s cancellation and rebooking terms and conditions, costs will be refunded if the services are cancelled by the service provider. It is worth getting in touch with the service provider, e.g. by phone, if you haven’t heard from them.
  • Complete a travel expense claim form for any expenses incurred for accommodation or travel which cannot be cancelled or any cancellation costs incurred. Please include the relevant invoices or print out the cancellation regulations as proof of costs incurred. Submit the travel expense claim form together with the approval/authorisation to carry out a journey and if applicable the official letter cancelling the event or a screenshot of the relevant website to P6 or settle accounts directly with your Chair.

Refunds of flight costs from airlines, travel agents and booking portals

The airline is obliged to refund the costs of the flight in accordance with the EU Regulation on Air Passenger Rights (EC) No. 261/2004. The Bavarian Travel Expenses Act (BayRKG) stipulates the assertion of these rights (Section 20 BayRKG).

A sample letter for asserting your rights is available on the website of the ‘Verbraucherzentrale’ consumer advice association. Please ensure you send the letter as a registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt.

Expenses incurred due to cancellations must be claimed within a period of six months. According to Section 3 (5)(2) of the Bavarian Travel Expenses Act (BayRKG), this period begins from the date on which the employee was notified of the cancellation. Please note that expenses incurred cannot be reimbursed until after the date that business travel was due to commence.