At the video conference between the German Chancellor and the Minister Presidents on March 22, 2021, the parties involved agreed on an extended “lockdown” over Easter. According to the resolution paper, Maundy Thursday (April 1) and Easter Saturday (April 3) shall be defined as exceptional “rest days.” Unfortunately, it is still unclear what this novelty in employment law will entail.
In the press conference held after the video conference, the Chancellor explained that these rest days require a separate regulation, which still has to be created. It shall be drafted analogously to the existing regulations regarding work on Sundays and public holidays. This would mean that it would generally be prohibited to work on these days unless a legally defined exception expressly permits this. It is currently unclear whether working in a home office would also be prohibited on these rest days. Similarly, we are unfortunately unable to assess at this moment whether existing exemptions from the ban on working on Sundays and public holidays (e.g. for production companies in shift operation) also apply to the “rest days”.
It is also completely open how the financial compensation for the loss of work will be structured. If the legislator plans a regulation similar to that for Sundays and public holidays, the cost for the loss of work would be borne entirely by the employers, which is hardly conceivable in view of the other burdens associated with the pandemic. In our view, it is equally inconceivable that the numerous employees would lose their entitlement to compensation for the loss of work due to the rest days. We could imagine that the companies would initially pay for the “rest days” (as they do for public holidays) and that the federal government would eventually reimburse companies for this afterwards.
We will be happy to keep you up to date at this point.