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WEATHER

Germany to see return of winter weather

Germany has enjoyed sunny days, clear skies and largely dry weather, leaving many to think spring is here to stay. But forecasters say another winter spell is coming - and possibly even snow.

Winter weather in Munich on January 22nd 2022.
Winter weather in Munich on January 22nd 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Peter Kneffel

Many of us in Germany have no doubt been enjoying the spring-like weather of late. 

But the dry and pleasant spell is coming to an end for now – with sleet and possibly snow forecast for later this week.

Monday was the last day of the period of good weather, said the German Weather Service (DWD) in its forecast. Now the situation in Europe is changing. “Polar air will flow into Germany from Scandinavia in the coming days,” said the DWD.

According to the experts, clouds and sun will alternate in the north on Wednesday, and isolated sleet or snow showers are possible. In the centre and south of Germany, the sky will remain heavily clouded over – with rain, which could also turn into sleet or snow in the mountains. In the south, isolated thunderstorms are to be expected.

READ ALSO: Germany sees sunny spring start with temperatures up to 20C

Winter arrives at the weekend

The DWD said highs will range from 4C to 15C from north to south. At night, temperatures will drop to 5C in the south and to -3C in the north.

According to their forecast, it will continue to rain on Thursday, but there will also be longer sunny spells on coastal areas. Highs are expected to range between 4C and 8C, with a little more sun in the west bringing temperatures up to 10C.

But winter will forcefully return at the weekend.

“Snow, frost and icy conditions will be an issue again,” the DWD said. “On Friday and Saturday, the peak of the cold spell will be reached.”

Temperatures then will reach between 2C and 7C, and it will be frosty at night.

South of the Danube and especially in the Alps there will likely be snow. Otherwise, localised rain, sleet and sleet showers are on the way, especially towards the coast and in the neighbouring inland areas, said the DWD.

Time to dig out your winter coat once more. 

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READER QUESTIONS

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?

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