Corona app: can employees be obliged to use it?

Corona app: can employees be obliged to use it?

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Corona app is here: Labor lawyer explains legal requirements

The German Corona warning app is here and has been available for free download since Tuesday. Installation on the smartphone is voluntary, but some employees fear that their employer may oblige them to use it. An employment lawyer explains the legal requirements.

The Corona warning app commissioned by the federal government is here. It has been available for free download since Tuesday. As stated in a release, the app is an important contribution to limit the COVID-19 pandemic. "The use of the app is voluntary," writes the government. But what if the employer wants you to use it?

Detect infection chains faster and more comprehensively

The new app is designed to help identify and effectively interrupt infection chains faster and more comprehensively.

If everyone is quickly informed about a possible infection with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 through contact with an infected person, he or she can react quickly and protect themselves and others, according to the federal government.

The installation on the smartphone is voluntary for citizens. But can companies oblige their employees to use them and require them to inform the employer in the event of an alarm?

And do employees have to stay at home then? And who pays the wages in such a case? Dr. Michael Fuhlrott, Professor of Labor Law at the Fresenius University in Hamburg, explains the legal requirements in a current communication.

Installation also voluntary for employees

The use of the new Corona warning app should be voluntary. According to the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences, the Expert Council for Consumer Affairs (SVRV), which advises the Federal Ministry of Justice, also calls for the legal basis for the warning app to be created.

Regardless of this, the question arises as to whether companies can require their employees to use them due to the obligations arising from the employment relationship.

As explained in the notification, the processing of personal data, especially as in the present case of specially protected health data (Art. 4 No. 15, Art. 9 GDPR), always requires a permit under data protection law (Art. 6 GDPR) .

"In labor law, this can be a legal regulation, a company agreement or the employee's consent," explains Fuhlrott.

According to the information, the Federal Data Protection Act, which specifies the data protection requirements in the employment relationship in section 26, allows the employer to process personal data insofar as this is necessary for the purposes of the employment relationship.

"An arrangement for use by employees cannot be based on this," says Fuhlrott. According to the expert, the installation of the app is also voluntary for employees. "This also applies if the employee uses a service cell phone."

Nothing else can also be regulated through a company agreement, because this is the personal life of the employee, which the works council and employer cannot regulate.

Does the company have to be informed in the event of an alarm in the warning app?

However, if employees use the app and it shows an alarm, the employer must be informed. "This requires the employee's duty of consideration," explains Professor Fuhlrott.

"The employer must be informed of the suspicion of an infection so that he can then check whether he sends the employee home first," says Fuhlrott, or takes protective measures for other employees if necessary.

"The employer will also be able to ask the employee to obtain further information about the existing risk of infection in order to be able to carry out a risk assessment with the involvement of the company doctor."

When to continue paying wages

If the employee is notified of an alarm, but is otherwise symptom-free and symptom-free, he or she is not unable to work. The company therefore does not have to pay sick wages.

However, if the employer decides to send the employee home, the employer must of course pay for it during this time.

"In such a case, labor lawyers speak of a paid leave," explains the lawyer. However, the employee is not entitled to a paid leave, even in the case of an app alarm. "If the employee can carry out his work in the home office, the parties can of course also agree on this."

The employer is only entitled to reimbursement of the salary for paid leave if the employee is also quarantined by the authorities. "The Infection Protection Act provides for corresponding regulations in ยง 56 Paragraph 1," explains Fuhlrott. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Fresenius University of Applied Sciences: CORONA APP: USE OBLIGATION FOR EMPLOYEES ?, (accessed: June 16, 2020), Fresenius University of Applied Sciences
  • Federal government: Publication of the Corona warning app, (accessed: June 16, 2020), federal government

Video: Coronavirus: Can you trust the contact tracing app in your phone? - BBC News (January 2023).