Blog Industry Explore

Legal Implications of COVID-19: "One Should Think About the Worst Case Scenario"

To conclude our impact series, we take a look at an area that is difficult to grasp and probably the most complex: the legal dangers for companies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We asked lawyer Dr. Christian Herbert for guidance.

MunichJul 30, 2020

Claims for damages from employees who feel they are not sufficiently protected, legal disputes with insurance companies due to a business lockdown, conflicts due to unfulfilled contracts … the COVID-19 pandemic also presents companies with numerous legal challenges that can become painful and threaten their existence.

We wanted to know how a legal expert evaluates the developments of the last few months and spoke to Dr. Christian Herbert, lawyer for administrative law, commercial and corporate law and international business law at the Gréus law firm in Heidelberg, Germany.

KINEXON: Dr. Herbert, how do you assess the protection measures taken by companies to date from a legal perspective? Where do you see a need for action?

Dr. Herbert: I consult many large production companies at the industrial location of Mannheim. During the lockdown, production stood still. Employees were sent home.

At that time, problems with adequate protective measures therefore did not arise. The situation was different with contract workers that were temporarily employed. Here, some difficult legal questions arose regarding remuneration and claims, which have not been clarified to date.

Another major legal problem is that a temporary employee is not formally subject to instructions from the company where he works. He cannot be forced to comply with protective measures. At best, he may be expelled from the factory premises if he does not comply with the required protective measures.

A business closure insurance is intended to cover the financial loss of a business closure. 


Crucial for this: 

  • Closure was initiated by an external party 
  • Insurance contract covers the event as occured 
  • Sufficient safeguards can be presented 

KINEXON: Do the measures currently applied go far enough for you? Or are more far-reaching measures needed?

Dr. Herbert: As far as I got insight, the protective measures have been well and sufficiently communicated to the employees by the companies. 

However, the measures have been in place for some time and in the daily work many duties are quickly forgotten. This is normal, but leads to the fact that good measures are only implemented to a limited extent.

KINEXON: How should companies react?

Dr. Herbert: With regard to further measures, the worst case scenario should be considered. The question should be asked whether in a COVID-19 infection the plant has to be closed down completely or whether the existing measures can prevent a lockdown. 

KINEXON: In order to prevent this worst case scenario, companies rely on distance and hygiene rules as well as tracing infection chains. What do companies have to observe in legal terms? 

Dr. Herbert: Distance and hygiene rules are and will remain the most important regulations. Maintaining a minimum distance of 6 feet to other persons is recommended, especially if other protective measures are not available or not possible.

In addition, a hygiene concept need to be designed by companies. However, some legal pitfalls arise from this. Let’s take the tracing of infection chains, for example: 

Companies should definitely check the legal regulations before implementing their concept! Employees do not have to agree to every data acquisition!

KINEXON: Are there any new legal developments regarding the tracing of infection chains?

Dr. Herbert: With the pandemic, a lot of is currently changing in labour law. For example, employees are required to provide more information. Two examples: Because of the devastating risk of infection, it is now assumed that a COVID-19 infection must be communicated in concrete terms. It is therefore no longer sufficient to simply call in sick”.

And even if employees are on holiday in COVID-19 risk areas, the company will probably have a right to be informed without being asked. Most likely, the company can demand that the employee undergoes a test. If the employee refuses, the work can be refused — unpaid.

KINEXON: Both of these factors are probably very much to the benefit of companies. What do you see as legal dangers? For example, for companies that do not adequately protect employees?

Dr. Herbert: This question is closely linked to the question of what duties entrepreneurs have towards their employees in the specific situation. This results from the field of activity of the company, but also from the personal constitution of the worker.

Germany: Company must prove that the infection did not take place in the company.

USA: Infected employee must prove that infection occurred during working hours.

A lack of protection can be the cause of illness or worse. Questions of liability arise here as a consequence: Can the employer be held liable for criminal liability, for example for negligent bodily injury? Can the employee demand sufficient protective measures? Are fines threatened because of the lack of protective measures or must compensation be paid for treatment costs or damages for pain and suffering?

Quite clearly: health protection in the company is not only a topic for the company doctor. The serious liability risks are also an issue for the compliance officer.

KINEXON: How high do you estimate the risk of a wave of complaints from employees who do not feel adequately protected?

Dr. Herbert: Same here, a distinction must be made between legal protection which serves as a preventive measure to improve protective measures and that which subsequently claims damages for lack of health protection.

With regard to preventive legal protection, I consider the danger” of the number of plaintiffs to be rather low, while in individual cases the consequences for the company can be serious .

Let us take this prominent case in the German meat industry, where employees went public instead of seeking legal protection. This may also have to do with the financial inhibition threshold to go to court.

Nevertheless, I think that such blatant violations will in future motivate sensitized employees to seek legal protection in advance.

Current legal situation (state: july 2020)

KINEXON: How do you estimate the chances of success for such lawsuits?

Dr. Herbert: The extent to which protective measures were actually deficient and the legal objective pursued are important.

With regard to future protective measures which must be implemented to protect employees, a court is likely to order a measure more quickly. Ultimately, the interest of the employer in continuing the business is weighed against the question of the employee’s health protection.

If the intended measure is appropriate and not entirely disproportionate, health protection will probably be given priority as a rule. For subsequent financial compensation, the question of quantifiable damage is also relevant. But no statement can be made here without looking at the individual case.

KINEXON: Speaking about hygiene and safety protocols, the question of proportionality is central and important. In other words, what can and cannot be expected of employees? How should companies ideally proceed in order to clarify this question to the best possible satisfaction of all? Is there a proven process?


Dr. Herbert: It is still too early to speak of a proven process when the situation is still constantly changing. Also the operational requirements are so different that there is no one clear answer to this.

At the peak of the pandemic, German politicians repeatedly swore that Germany would have to move together” during the lockdown. I think it should be the same with coordinating hygiene and safety protocols within the company: Really all departments must work together on this!

The issue of health and safety is far too important to be made the subject of common frictions, for example between the works council and management.

Especially because of the fact that numerous legal questions concerning employee protection cannot be answered clearly at this point, all possibilities for risk minimization and documentation should be exhausted. 

No matter what the legal situation is, as soon as a case of infection becomes known among the staff, companies must provide evidence of concrete, effective protective measures and immediately stop possible chains of infection. 

Organizational, behavioral and personal protective measures such as those listed in the so-called Stop Model” (see graphic above) do reduce the risk of infection, but it is questionable whether they also provide the necessary clarity in legal disputes. Technical measures such as KINEXON SafeZone also have their advantages here.

More stories

STILL Automatiklager Danfoss EXV Navigation rotierende Laserscanner 2021
STILL's automation solutions integrate with KINEXON to bolster VDA 5050 compliant fleet management.

We drive automated vehicles – under this slogan STILL offers the iGo portfolio: different vehicle-based expansion stages for the automation of intralogistics, which can be individually adapted to individual requirements. iGo systems implement the automated interaction of one or multiple different industrial trucks in order to perform transport tasks in the warehouse without a driver. 

SAFELOGs automation solutions as part of the VDA 5050 fleet management.

Welcome to this blog post about the SAFELOG AGV X1 1200 tt, the latest addition to the fleet of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) from SAFELOG. This advanced AGV is equipped with unique features, that increase its flexibility on unknown levels. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of the AGV X1 1200 tt and its ability to create value in various intralogistics use cases and applications, including material handling, and in manufacturing and warehousing. Furthermore, we will elaborate how the AGV X1 1200 tt is especially beneficial for brownfield projects and how it can be customized to suit specific process requirements.

March Madness NCAA College Basketball Player Tracking
Coaching Guide for March Madness: How to Get Ready for the Hottest Time of the Year

March Madness: You lose, you go home – You win, the dream lives on. The most important question for coaches and athletes alike: how to get ready for the hottest time of the year? Philipp Lienemann, Sr. Customer Success Manager at KINEXON, introduces an integrated approach — get the exclusive guide here!

Yannis Irid Strengt and Conditioning Coach FFBB
How the French Basketball Federation Uses KINEXON IMU & LPS to Identify Talent and Maximize Youth Development

At the Institut National du Sport, de l’Expertise et de la Performance (INSEP), the French Basketball Federation’s (FFBB) Performance Specialist Yannis Irid and his team use KINEXON’s PERFORM IMU und LPS to develop young players, prevent injuries and tailor training plans to their needs. Here, Irid, who is also conducting a PhD thesis in collaboration with the FFBB and the Institute of Biomedical Research and Sports Epidemiology, gives insights into the process and explains how KINEXON also helps in talent evaluation.

OMRONs automation solutions as part of the VDA 5050 fleet management.

The world of automation and robotics is rapidly evolving, and the latest innovation from OMRON is making waves in the industry. The Mobile Manipulator, a combination of Cobot and the Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR), is set to revolutionize the manufacturing and intralogistics processes. Seamlessly integrated into the KINEXON AMR & AGV Fleet Manager, this technology boasts a standard interface of VDA 5050, promising to boost productivity and efficiency for businesses across industries. 

Performance Tracking Volleyball Vakifbank
Bump-Set-Spike: Giovanni "Vanny" Miale Shares Insight into Performance Technology for Volleyball

Giovanni Vanny” Miale is a true expert who can draw from over 20 years of experience in professional volleyball. When it comes to performance tracking, the decorated performance coach for the Turkish volleyball club, VakıfBank Spor Kulübü, believes in the value technology can provide athletes on and off the court. KINEXON caught up with Vanny to share his thoughts — read the interview here! 

A Collection of Insights: 2022 State of Performance Tracking in College Basketball Report

While some collegiate programs utilize data to maximize performance on and off the court, others await their chance to take their skills to the next level. KINEXON surveyed more than 500 men’s and women’s college basketball student-athletes and interviewed coaches across the U.S. — get exclusive insights here! 

Player Tracking Youth Academy Insights
Load Management in FCBB Youth Academy - How to Improve Performance and Reduce Injury Risk

Injuries can be devastating. Especially if they put a next-gen player’s ascent on hold. The good news: if monitored and managed correctly, the impact of load can decrease tremendously. Sports Scientist Philipp Hartmannsgruber explains FC Bayern Basketball’s approach to managing load, reducing injury risk, and KINEXON’s role based on a four-month pilot project. 

KINEXON Furman University NCAA College Basketball
Behind the Scenes: How Player Tracking and Data-Driven Performance Evaluation is Transforming Basketball at Furman University

As an abundance of statistics and technology infiltrates the daily vernacular of the sports industry, it can be challenging to bridge the gap between analysis and impact. At KINEXON, we strive to collaborate with partners on both the professional and collegiate level to not only collect data but to transform numbers into actions that enable a sport’s most valuable asset: the players on the court.

Key-Performance Indicators in Football (Soccer) and How to Use Them

Using player tracking metrics has become almost mandatory in pro football. They may not guarantee success. Yet, knowing which key performance indicators to use and how to combine them helps evaluate athletes’ performances, prevent injuries, and lead them to peak performance.

5 Take-Aways Why Performance Tracking with IMU Is a Game-Changer in Volleyball

Player tracking is gaining ground in volleyball. Using key performance indicators (KPIs) helps coaches and players evaluate progress, work towards specific goals, and make informed decisions based on objective data. Chris White, Customer Success Manager at KINEXON and Exercise Physiology Expert, gives insights on how KINEXON’s PERFORM IMU helps transform the sport of volleyball through KPIs in five steps. 

Player Tracking Volleyball KINEXON
Volleyball Performance Tracking in Action: How Live Data Boosts Player Performance and Fan Engagement

Player tracking benefits volleyball as much as any other sport. The technology allows coaches to prepare their players on point while reducing the risk of injury. Through new insights, fans get a deeper understanding of the game. But which metrics matter most? Who benefits precisely, and how? Read about the boost live data provide players and fans with.

A New Chapter: Our Success Story with the HBL - Context is King

The LIQUI MOLY Handball-Bundesliga (HBL) and KINEXON have worked together closely since the 2019 – 20 season. Christian Günther, KINEXON expert for strategic partnerships, comprehensively introduces one of handball’s most exciting projects and takes stock.

How German Bundesliga Clubs Benefit from Player Tracking

The German Bundesliga has used player tracking to enhance the fan experience and support clubs with official match data for a long time. With all stadiums equipped with state-of-the-art camera setups and clubs implementing KINEXON tracking technologies in their practice facilities, the goal is clear: help teams obtain competitive insights, manage the risk of injury, and close the gap between training and match demands. Here is how it works.

European League of Football Player Tracking
Premiere in the European League of Football: Live-Tracking of Tackles, Sprints and More

Countless data insights have already become indispensable for coaches, players, media and fans in professional sports. American football goes one step further. In collaboration with KINEXON, the European League of Football also provided data on collisions and sprints to Staff and Fans live for the first time.