Watch out Germany! Chilly sub-zero weekend ahead

Snow, ice, and freezing temperatures are all ahead this weekend as winter comes back with a vengeance after a brief respite.

Watch out Germany! Chilly sub-zero weekend ahead
A family play with a sled on the Großer Feldberg mountain near Frankfurt am Main, Hesse. Photo: DPA

The German Weather Service (DWD) predicts widespread snowfall of 1-5cm in low-lying areas and up to 10cm at higher elevations on Friday, with rain only in the west and south-west of the country.

Image: Deutsche Wetterdienst

Berlin had its dose of snow before the sun was even up on Friday, with picturesque results in some places.

In the Black Forest, as much as 20-30cm of snow could fall over the course of 12 hours.

Temperatures will hover around or a little below freezing during the day – so watch out for ice and slush on the ground that could cause you problems whether you're driving or on foot.

Overnight, southern Germany is likely to see more snow, as well as the Erzgebirge (Ore mountains) in the East.

There may be storms in mountainous areas thanks to the changing wind direction and large amounts of snowfall.

Meanwhile, the North will see little snow but temperatures will still lie between -5 and 0C – meaning more slippery ice and slush to watch out for.

Image: Deutsche Wetterdienst

Saturday will see cloudy skies with scattered snow, especially close to the Alps, with stormy spells in the north.

And on Sunday Germany will likely wake up to more fresh snow with more expected from heavy cloud in central and southern regions.

Image: Deutsche Wetterdienst

Temperatures will top out at between -5 and -1C – so wrap up warm!

SEE ALSO: The ten greatest German alpine ski resorts

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Reader question: Is it ever too hot to work from home in Germany?

Germany has regulations on working during a heatwave - but does that also apply to people who work remotely? We take a look.

Reader question: Is it ever too hot to work from home in Germany?

The number of people working from home shot up during the Covid pandemic, and though employees no longer have the right to work remotely by law, many have chosen to stick with more flexible arrangements and set up a home office at least part of the week.

This is great news for people who enjoy a lie-in more than a long commute, but there are some downsides. One major issue is that it’s not always clear how Germany’s strict employee protection rules actually apply in a home setting. The rules for working during a heatwave are a good example of this.

How does Germany regulate working in extreme heat? 

By law in Germany, employers are responsible for creating a safe environment for their workers. This means that they should try and keep the temperature below 26C at all times and are legally obliged to take action if the temperature goes above 30C. 

That could include putting blinds on the windows to prevent the glare of the sun, installing air conditioning systems or purchasing fans. In some cases – such as outdoor manual labour – it could also involve starting and finishing earlier in the day. 

And in really high temperatures, employers may simply decide to call the whole thing off and give their employees a ‘hitzefrei’ day – basically a heat-induced day off – to go and cool down in a lake. However, business owners are generally given free rein to decide how hot is too hot in this instance (except in the case of vulnerable workers). 

READ ALSO: Hitzefrei: Is it ever legally too hot to go to work or school in Germany?

Do the heat rules apply to ‘home office?’

Unfortunately not. In most cases in Germany, the company isn’t directly involved in setting up the workspace for an employee that works from home, aside from possibly providing a laptop or phone for remote use. 

“The occupational health and safety regulations regarding room temperature do not apply in this case,” labour law expert Meike Brecklinghaus told German business publication T3N. “This is because the employer does not have direct access to the employee’s workplace and in this respect cannot take remedial action.”

That means that on hot days, it’s the employee’s own responsibility to make sure the environment is suitable for working in. 

woman works from home in Germany

A woman works in her living room at home. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Naupold

One duty employers do have, however, is to instruct their workers about the best way to set up a healthy work environment at home, for example by giving guidance on how to regulate the temperature. 

“In the end, it is the employee’s responsibility to maintain his or her workplace in a condition in which he or she can perform his or her work without the threat of health impairments,” Brecklinghaus explained.

What can home office workers do in hot weather?

There are plenty of ways to keep flats cooler in the summer months, including purchasing your own fan, keeping curtains or blinds drawn and ventilating the rooms in the evening or early morning when the weather is cooler.

However, if heat is really becoming a problem, it’s a good idea to communicate this to your employer. This is especially important if you have a health condition that makes it more dangerous to work in hot weather. 

In some cases, you might be able to negotiate for the employer to pay for the purchase of a fan or mobile air conditioner as goodwill gesture. If possible, you could also arrange to travel to the office where the temperature should be better regulated.

Another option for early birds or night owls is to arrange more flexible working hours so you can avoid sweltering at your desk in the midday sun, although this of course depends on operational factors. 

READ ASO: Jobs in Germany: Should foreign workers join a union?