Corona pandemic: Frequently asked questions and answers about the current regulations 

Corona pandemic: Frequently asked questions and answers about the current regulations 

Since Monday the 16th of March, our institute is running in a highly restricted mode in order to slow down the spread and number of infections with Sars-CoV-2 respectively COVID-19. These measures are in accord with clear recommendations from the Max Planck Society. For the time being, we try to keep this website constantly up-to-date. Due to the ever-changing dynamic of the situation, we can’t guarantee completeness at all times. If you are missing important information on this page or wish to make any comments, please write to presse@mpq.mpg.de.

Please use and check these channels regularly to stay informed:

Weblink to your MPQ email inbox: https://webmail.mpcdf.mpg.de/login.php

MPG Infopage on MAX: https://max.mpg.de/News/Pages/Umgang-mit-dem-Corona-Virus.aspx

MPQ Infopage about current regulations in place at MPQ: https://www.mpq.mpg.de/en/6218105/corona-security-measures.

Here is an information page from the BR with assistance on all topics concerning Corona in Bavaria in English language:

https://www.br.de/nachrichten/deutschland-welt/coronavirus-in-bavaria-assistance-in-english,RtO8eS2 

THE ESSENTIALS IN BRIEF

Since Monday, 16.03.2020, the institute has been operating in a highly reduced state with a minimum staff number present at the institute.

  • Employees who are currently unable or only partially able to switch to home office such as staff from the workshop, building services, technicians, lab supervising scientists, and some members of purchasing and human resources only work in rotating alternating teams without mutual contact. Inside the laboratories we allow only two people per roughly 40qm² to be present at a time.
  • All other employees work from home as far as possible.
  • Business trips to risk areas aren’t eligible for approval; all other business trips must be cancelled for the following eight weeks. The institute will cover any cancellation fees.
  • All events and guest visits are to be cancelled or postponed. Conferences and workshops are cancelled without exemption. As of the new nationwide regulation from the 22nd of March, meetings with more than two people are strictly forbidden. In general, people should maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 meters. 

Duration: We can’t foresee for how long these regulations will need to be in place, but we expect the current status to last at least until the 31st of May 2020. Then, the institute's management board will revaluate the situation.

Obligation to cover nose and mouth

Do I have to wear a mask at work?

Since April 28, there is a general obligation in place at MPQ to cover nose and mouth. This applies to all areas of the institute, including work in the laboratories, except when people are alone in laboratories and offices. The mask may only be taken off then and for meals. Important to emphasize: The masks are not a substitute for the distance rules, but an additional protection. Despite the mask, there is a risk of infection if people come too close. Even with a mask, the distance rules of at least 1.5 metres, preferably two metres, must be observed. Please keep in mind: washing hands regularly and thoroughly and maintaining physical distance are the two most effective ways of protecting yourself and others from infection.

Where can I obtain a mask?

We provide all employees with a mask which they can pick up at the gate in the morning. Please be sure to disinfect your hands before you touch and put on a mask. We currently have enough masks in stock to provide employees at the institute with a new mask every day. Nevertheless, we welcome employees bringing their own masks.

We are now also able to provide individual mouth-nose-protection, which can be collected in the goods receiving department. The masks need to be assembled before they can be put on. Therefore they allow individual adaption to different face forms. The masks are at disposal from now on in units of five or one. A detailed instruction on how to set up the mask can be found here: https://www.schreiner-group.com/de/masken

Institute operating mode

What happens when the institute closes?

If the institute needs to temporarily close doors, no one is allowed to enter the building for this given period, except system-critical personnel as preliminary defined in the emergency plan. All members of the emergency team are informed about their roles and responsibilities. All other employees will continue to work in the home office as far as possible. All employees remain entitled to full payment of wages, regardless of whether work can be performed from home or not. This applies to both cases, closure by the institute the same as by the authorities.

What are the circumstances that can force a temporary closure of the institute?

We cannot precisely predict the circumstances that eventually would lead to the closure of the institute. But, the physical sanity and the containment of the coronavirus are our main priorities. A decision about the closing of the institute will only be taken in accord with the central administration of the Max Planck Society and the public health authorities. Please keep yourself constantly informed with the sources listed above.

How do the latest Bavarian restrictions regarding the freedom of movement, valid from 21 March 2020 onwards, affect the institute's current operations?

The current reduced mode of operation will continue. Commuting to the workplace remains permitted. All employees whose physical presence at the institute remains required and is also agreed as such can continue to come to work. According to the current situation, no specific certificate or the like is necessary. In the (unlikely) event of a police inquiry, it is sufficient to name the place of work and the place of employment. Nonetheless, we have prepared Employer Confirmations for employees who still have to commute to MPQ which are issued at your respective secretaries or direct supervisors. 

Business trips

I wish to cancel my business trips to a non-risk area. Will the costs be covered?

Yes. We recommend that all employees cancel business trips to any destination until further notice. Cancellation fees will be covered by the institute. If you have any questions on this matter, please contact your direct supervisor.

Holiday requests

I have booked a holiday in the upcoming weeks/months which I now can’t or don’t want to start out due to the current Corona crisis. Am I allowed to move my holiday to a date later this year?

We understand that the current crisis has caused turmoil in many people’s plans. Therefore, we agree to employees shifting their granted holidays from now to a time later in the year. However, the more requests accumulate later, the lesser it will be possible to grant every individual wish. Therefore, if you request to shift your holiday, please get in touch with your respective teams to seek clarification and solutions so that as many wishes as possible can be granted later. We also kindly ask our employees to take residual leave days from 2019 within H1 of 2020. At the moment we expect to return to a higher operation mode until the end of H1. Please bear in mind that we will need a workforce on site big enough to compensate for the time the institute operated in restricted and minimal mode.  

Home office/ Child care

Is it possible to exempt employees from work, who aren’t able to switch to the home office due to the specifics of their tasks and functions?

In this special situation, we are allowed to define „home office“ in a very broad and generous way. Employees who feel unsure about what they could work from home should discuss the details with their respective supervisors. We are optimistic that with some creative approaches we will be able to find a suitable and appropriate solution for every individual employee.

For groups and departments whose presence is partly required on-site, the following applies: In consultation with your direct supervisor, please form teams that rotate in shifts at the institute.

Additionally, it also remains possible to apply for vacation days, compensation for overtime or unpaid leave. Applications can be submitted from home without physical presence at the institute and are – as usual – to be approved by your respective supervisor.

What about guest scientists, Bachelor and Master students?

Researchers with guest contracts at MPQ as well as new Master and Bachelor students who still depend on instructions on site are currently not allowed to access the institute. They are supposed to familiarize themselves with their projects and topics at home by reading and researching the respective literature. Research assistants aren’t allowed at the institute until further notice.

 

Can employees be exempted from work when schools and nurseries remain closed?

Employees enrolled in TVöD contracts who have to take care of their children at home due to the current closing of schools and nurseries can be exempted from work for up to ten days under ongoing payment of full wages. These days won’t have to be compensated. This regulation only applies if children are under the age of twelve and in cases where parents are unable to organize alternative child care. For those employees who deliver their weekly hours of work on less than five days, the ten days will adapt accordingly. (Note: similar rules apply for annual days of vacation)

For the time being, paid exemption for longer than ten days is not possible – yet. We hope to see ongoing and further-reaching measures from the authorities until these ten days expire.

Nonetheless, the possibilities of working from home should always be given priority. Under the current circumstances we can allow the term home office a wide interpretation. Please discuss any options with your direct supervisors.

Is working in home office only possible with institute equipment and under established VPN connections?

As long as data protection regulations are observed, it is also possible to work in home office with paper or other media and own computers. The question of whether the respective activities are "home office suitable" is evaluated by the respective supervisor in each individual case.

COVID-19 cases, quarantine and "normal" diseases

There is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19. Where should I turn to?

In cases of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 please inform the institute immediately. Contacts are Immanuel Bloch (immanuel.bloch@mpq.mpg.de) and Adelbert Piehler (adelbert.piehler@mpq.mpg.de).

An employee is officially under quarantine. Are the salaries still paid?

Yes. Employees who have been quarantined by the public health authorities in accordance with § 30 of the Infection Protection Act (IfSG) are entitled to compensation for the first six weeks in the same amount as their usual income (§ 56 IfSG). This compensation needs to paid by the employer, can however be reimbursed from the respective authorities.

How are general sick leaves regulated in the current special situation?

People who fall ill are as always exempted from work with continued payment of wages. However, there is a new regulation in accordance with the current situation: patients with cold symptoms can now be prescribed with seven days of sick leave following a telephone consultation with their doctor. A visit to the practice is not crucially necessary. The certificate of incapacity for work must be presented to the employer as usual. For the time being, this regulation applies for four weeks, starting on the 10th of March 2020.

 

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