Instruction for employees

last modification: 12.07.2021 / 9:15 am

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is challenging OVGU employees and brings with it particular burdens. It is therefore important that all players in the individual areas treat each other in a spirit of solidarity and fairness and find solutions together wherever possible. In this sense, the university management appeals to all employees to adapt their behaviour to the special circumstances and to master everyday business with a sense of proportion and the necessary sensitivity.

Here you will find the current OVGU instructions, adapted to the current Containment Ordinance of the State of Saxony-Anhalt.

FAQ for employees

Note: The list of the most important and frequently asked questions and answers regarding the Corona pandemic is not exhaustive and will be updated as necessary.

Which hygiene regulations currently apply at OVGU?

The hygiene regulations that were announced at the start of the pandemic continue to apply. These include:

  • maintaining a minimum distance to others of 1.50 meters,
  • frequent hand-washing,
  • regular ventilation of closed spaces,
  • coughing and sneezing etiquette,
  • dispensing with shaking hands and hugging,
  • wearing of a medical mouth and nose covering in all public buildings and for students during face-to-face classes. Outdoors too, distance must be maintained, and masks worn if it is not possible to keep to the minimum distance.
  • On campus a medical face mask must be worn if it is not possible to maintain a minimum distance of 1.50 meters.
  • For classes (e.g. laboratory practicals) where the minimum distance of 1.50 meters cannot be adhered to, and/or for internal meetings, it is mandatory to wear an FFP2 mask.
  • Over and above this, all official business meetings and committee / board meetings must be held online; this also includes gatherings of groups of students. The formation of groups is not permitted on any part of the campus.
  • Meetings and gatherings of 5 or more employees and students on campus must be held digitally. A transition to digital formats is recommended.
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How should I behave if I have symptoms of a cold and/or if I suspect I am infected with the coronavirus?

As before, should symptoms of infection appear, it is recommended that individuals self-isolate in their own households. If the possibility that an individual has become infected with the coronavirus has not been ruled out, in cases of doubt they should always take a test (testing center). The individual concerned and their line manager may decide independently which measures should be taken. An example of a differentiated approach might be a known allergy that regularly appears as cold-like symptoms (hay fever). In such cases, a joint decision must be taken as to which measures are sensible.

If you have been in contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus or if you yourself have received a positive test result, please notify the health authorities immediately and pass this information to .

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Where can I obtain support concerning hygiene matters and/or disinfectants and mouth & nose coverings?

OVGU offers its employees additional voluntary occupational health care. Furthermore, the university physician also facilitates individual consultations regarding work-related health risks. Pre-existing conditions and fears can also be discussed here.

The Occupational Health and Safety & Environmental Protection Department (K43) will, in case of need, provide hand sanitizer to enable participation in face-to-face classes. In this connection, your attention is drawn to the corresponding safety data sheets (SDS) and operating instructions drawn up by K43 for the use, storage and transport of disinfectants.

The Occupational Health and Safety and Environmental Protection Department will, where needed, also make available single-use gloves and masks to facilitate participation in face-to-face classes.

Surface disinfectants will be supplied by the Facilities Services Department (K51) Disinfection of the lecture halls/seminar rooms in which face-to-face classes/examinations take place is organized by our cleaning services provider. Department K51 must be made aware in good time by the Examination Offices of any forthcoming exam dates. If rooms are allocated to third parties, they are responsible for ensuring that the hygiene plan, which includes surface disinfection, is carried out.

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Will my obligation to work be waived if I am dependent on public transport and am unable or unwilling to use it?

No, how you get to work is a private issue. In this case too, all possibilities for flexible working must be considered. If your working hours are recorded, compensatory time can be used up or deficit hours accumulated. Leave may be granted, including possibly unpaid. As in Tier 3 remote working is formally supported, all possibilities should be considered.

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Will I be granted leave from work if I am required to care for my children due to kindergarten or school closures?

There are two possible ways of taking a leave of absence.

The circumstances under which a leave of absence may be taken are set out in the “law on the continued validity of the regulations concerning the national epidemic situation”.

From 01.04.2021, a total of 34, and for single parents 67, days are available for this (irrespective of the number of children). This regulation will initially be in place until 30.06.2021. If the pandemic situation should continue beyond this date, this period may be extended to up to one year, in other words until 31.03.2022. The total number of leave days applies to this period. Any time allowable under the previous regulation not consumed by 31.03.2021 shall expire. This also applies to the current annual period. The leave of absence may also be used on a half-day or hourly basis. Corresponding records must be kept.

The conditions are as follows:

  • Children affected by the closure have not yet reached the age of 12 or are disabled or dependent on assistance.
  • Closure occurs outside of regular school or facility vacations or scheduled closing times.
  • The requirements for emergency care are not present.
  • Proof of closure may be required, if applicable.
  • No other caregiver is available.
  • Overtime that can be worked off or remaining vacation from the previous vacation year is no longer available.

There is no entitlement to time off work if the establishments would ordinarily be closed (holidays, planned closures).

Other possibilities for taking a leave of absence are set out below.

Extension of the payment of sickness benefits for persons insured in the statutory health insurance scheme for the illness of children under 12 years of age.

In deviation from the previous statutory regulations, the entitlement to sickness benefit for the calendar year 2021 exists for each child for a maximum of 30 working days, for single-parent insured persons for a maximum of 60 working days. The entitlement exists for insured persons with more than 2 children for up to 65 working days, for single-parent insured persons for a maximum of 130 working days.

The closure of the facility does not have to be initiated by the competent authority. The closure of facilities, e.g. by the management of the facility, also constitutes grounds for the exemption.

What entitlement to exemption exists if there is no entitlement under § 45 SGB V?

Employees who have private health insurance or whose children are not covered by statutory health insurance (e.g. family insurance for civil servants) may receive an additional 4 days of paid time off in accordance with § 29 TV-L in addition to the 34 days resulting from the Infection Protection Act. To apply, use the form posted in the form pool.

Extension of the possibility of granting special leave in the event of illness of children up to 12 years of age or relatives in need of care (civil servants)

In 2021, up to 28 days per child/maximum of 63 working days can be taken to care for sick children up to the age of 12. For single parents, up to 55 working days per child/maximum 129 working days are available. The closure of the facility does not have to be initiated by the competent authority. The closure of facilities, e.g. by the management of the facility, also constitutes grounds for exemption

More detailed information on the regulations can be found in Part III of the Administrative Handbook.

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What are the reasons for which the leave days (34 days per year or 67 for single parents) be utilized pursuant to the Protection against Infection Act?

1. Leave days and university closure period

The university closure has been advertised since the end of the year before last. In accordance with the Protection against Infection Act, the leave days cannot be utilized for this. Employees should use paid leave, compensatory time or unpaid leave.

2. Leave days in the regular holidays or during times when a paid leave of absence was planned because childcare facilities were to be closed even without the coronavirus pandemic

The leaves of absence permitted under the Protection against Infection Act do not apply to regular holiday times. A planned leave of absence cannot be “converted” and compensatory time cannot be consumed during such periods. For reasons of equal treatment, a leave of absence that was planned to cover the closure of a childcare facility should not be converted, even if in such cases there are no standard regulations in place as there are for holidays. In this case the managers of the structural units must decide, as only they know why a leave of absence may have been planned beyond the university closure period.

3. Leaves of absence for closures ordered by the authorities

For closures ordered by the authorities, the leave days may be used in accordance with the Protection against Infection Act. For the care of children of school age, this entitlement is assumed. For children attending other childcare facilities, this applies if individual closures were not already scheduled in advance. This also applies if there should have been after-school supervision on the basis of which the parents had not planned a leave of absence. The after-school care facility is also affected by the official closure, as a result of which the leave days may be used to cover this.

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What should employees do who have to take care of family members due to the closure of other facilities?

The following notes have already been published in the Administrative Manual III, dated 28.10.2020. For the sake of completeness, they are listed again here in abbreviated form.

Extension of the payment of sickness benefits for statutorily insured persons for the illness of children under 12 years of age.

In deviation from the previous statutory regulations, the entitlement to sick pay for the calendar year 2021 exists for each child for a maximum of 15 working days, and for single-parent insured persons for a maximum of 30 working days. The entitlement is for insured persons for no more than 35 working days, for single-parent insured persons for no more than 70 working days.

Extension of the possibility of granting special leave in case of illness of children up to 12 years of age or relatives in need of care (civil servants)

In 2021, up to 18 working days per child, up to a maximum of 43 working days, and up to 35 working days per child, up to a maximum of 89 working days, for single persons, are available for the care of sick children up to the age of 12. The special leave may also be used if child care facilities close due to the pandemic.

Extension of the possibility of granting special leave in case of illness of children up to 12 years of age or relatives in need of care.

In addition to the existing provision, special leave with pay shall be granted for up to five working days for each child and up to 10 working days for each child for single parents in a leave year. This provision is limited in time until Dec. 31, 2020.

As an alternative to the exemption options described above, further exemption options were created by the "Act on the Continuation of Regulations Concerning the Epidemic Situation of National Scope". They supplement the previous regulations from the Infection Protection Act.

If community facilities such as daycare centers, schools or individual classes or facilities for people with disabilities are temporarily closed as a result of COVID-19, or if an individual notice is issued by the health authority ordering isolation, employees and civil servants* have the option of taking time off for up to 34 working days from 01.04.2021, and up to 67 working days for single persons, with continued payment. This also applies to foster parents.

Requirements are:

  • Children affected by closure have not reached the age of 12 or are disabled or dependent on assistance.
  • Closure occurs outside of regular school or facility vacations or scheduled closing times.
  • The requirements for emergency care are not present.
  • Appropriate proof of closure is provided.
  • No other caregiver is available.
  • Overtime that can be reduced is no longer available.

If weekly hours are distributed other than five days per week, the entitlement is increased or decreased. Time off may also be granted on an hourly basis.

The possibility of time off from work does not exist if the facilities would be closed anyway (vacations, closing times).

For the period from March 28, 2020 to April 01, 2020, the 34/67 days could also be taken. There is no possibility to carry over days from this period. The counting starts anew. The regulation is initially limited until 30.06.2021. However, if the epidemic situation persists, the entitlement to the days off exists until 31.03.2022 at the latest.

If leave has already been granted, no conversion to this exemption status can be made.

 

Extension of the possibility of granting special leave to public servants for the care of close relatives

In amendment to the provision in the Leave Ordinance of the state of Saxony-Anhalt, effective immediately until 31.12.2021, special leave may be granted for a maximum of twenty working days in total, whereby for 19 days the salary will continue to be paid. This is conditional upon the acute care situation being due to the Covid 19 pandemic and it not being possible to ensure any other means of care. A declaration by the public servant shall be sufficient as proof. The relative need not necessarily be infected with the coronavirus, rather the leave of absence may be granted if, for example, nursing care cannot be guaranteed due to pandemic-related shortages.

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During the period of basic operation, how is working time recorded?

Pursuant to the applicable rules at OVGU, academics have “trust-based” working hours. For non-academic staff, the working time in the Service agreement on the regulation of working hours in the framework of the 40-hour week and flexible working hours as well as regulations on flexibilization in the context of part-time employment relationships at Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg (excl. MED) apply analogously. In the workplace, working time is recorded as usual.

When working remotely, the employees are themselves responsible for adhering to their contracted hours, breaks and rest periods. The times must be entered in the Excel spreadsheet. Overtime cannot be accrued while working remotely. Availability and attendance times in the workplace must be coordinated between the employees and their managers. Availability must be guaranteed even when working remotely.

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What is the procedure when employees belong to an at-risk group?

Certain groups of people are at greater risk of complications from COVID-19; for more on this see the information and assistance from the Robert Koch Institute for persons at greater risk of complications resulting from COVID-19.

The following applies:

Membership of a so-called risk group and any protective measures to be taken by the employer must be determined on a case-by-case basis upon application to the occupational health service. Employees will be required to fulfill their duties within the framework of the recommendations made by the occupational health service. The corresponding deployment will, as usual, be administered by the management.

  • Remote working should be facilitated where the role permits
  • Staggered start and finish times, minimization of contacts for business purposes
  • Restriction of consultation hours
  • Compliance with hygiene rules
  • Granting of paid leave, consumption of compensatory time, accumulation of deficit hours, unpaid leave taking business requirements into consideration

Pregnant women in particular must be protected. The deployment of pregnant women as lecturers will be in accordance with the risk assessment and the recommendations of the occupational health service on a voluntary basis.

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Can paid leave that has already been approved be taken?

Paid leave that has been applied for and approved should be taken as planned in order to avoid the accumulation of holiday entitlement. An approved period of leave can only be retracted in cases where urgent business requirements demand it. In agreement with the employee, the paid leave that cannot now be granted must be granted within the following few weeks. It is essential to avoid the accrual due to postponement of large amounts of holiday entitlement that would need to be consumed once normal operations resume.

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What must be taken into consideration in the event of private travel abroad or trips to high-risk areas in Germany?

Private trips abroad or to risk areas pertain to the conduct of employees and staff outside of the working environment. However, it should be assumed that due to the coming into force of the SARS-CoV-2 Quarantine Ordinance, such trips take place with an awareness of the legal situation. If a trip is booked or undertaken at a time when the restrictions arising from the Quarantine Ordinance were already known, the consequences must be borne personally by the employees and staff.

This means that, for example, in the event of having to quarantine upon entry into a country or when returning, if difficulties are encountered with the return journey, or if an individual is prohibited from undertaking certain activities, then holiday or an unpaid leave of absence must be applied for if it is not possible to undertake all of that person’s work duties from home. This applies for the validity period of the SARS-CoV-2 Quarantine Ordinance. Regionally there are very great differences between the regulations in force, meaning that specifically the provisions applicable in the employee’s place of residence and work should be observed.

The guidance from the RKI can be found on the RKI website.

Since the situation, particularly in respect of the assessment of risk areas, is extremely dynamic, often the risk cannot be estimated before the start of a trip. It is recommended that individuals come to an agreement with their supervisor(s) prior to commencing a trip about the possibility of working from home in order to minimize the consequences of being quarantined. If quarantine is imposed by the authorities, there is an entitlement to payment of remuneration pursuant to the Protection against Infection Act.

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What happens if a destination is declared a high-risk area after the trip has already commenced?

If the destination is only declared to be a high-risk area during the trip and a period of quarantine must then be observed, this shall be deemed to be an officially ordered quarantine. In such cases, the employee will continue to be paid. However the priority is for the employee to work remotely in such circumstances. In this case too, there must be close coordination between the employee and his or her manager.

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Are business trips in Germany and abroad permitted?

In principle, business trips should only be organized and approved if they are absolutely necessary for the performance of an individual’s duties. From Tier 4, business trips are categorically not permitted.

If, in exceptional cases, a business trip is approved by a manager, the current, regional incidence of infection must be taken into account. The business interests and the duty of care must be balanced. In exceptional cases, business trips may only be authorized if they are imperative, and no travel warning is in place prior to the start of the trip. This decision is the responsibility of the approver.

Current travel warnings and guidelines must be taken into consideration at the start of the trip; if necessary, trips that have already been booked must be canceled if the risk is too great for the traveler. The costs of cancellation and non-refundable expenses must be covered from the decentralized travel cost budget or third-party accounts. This also applies to travel in the context of continuing education courses. For this very reason, when approving business trips, increased attention and awareness is required on the part of both the traveler and the approver.

If coronavirus tests are required when entering or exiting a country, or to avoid going into quarantine, the costs incurred can be reimbursed as incidental expenses via the travel expense accounting system. If upon return the individual is required to quarantine, then this shall be deemed to be an authorized absence.

This shall not be the case if a business trip is undertaken despite the existence of a travel warning.

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What happens if it is not possible to return from a high-risk area?

If the employee is unable to return on the date expected from their holiday location due to travel restrictions or quarantine, and they are unable to resume working punctually after the end of their holiday, there is no entitlement to pay. No fault shall be attributed, as in principle the employee bears the risk of traveling. In such a case, solutions must be found in cooperation with the manager (consumption of paid leave or compensatory time) in order to minimize the loss of pay.

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Which regulations apply to employees who come from high-risk areas (esp. in the case of commuting regularly to work)?

Increasingly, domestic cities / districts are also being declared high risk areas. If employees come from these areas and have their regular residence there, the following measures must be taken:

  • If it is possible, attendances should be reduced, and remote working agreed.
  • If attendance is required, the hygiene rules must be adhered to particularly strictly by employees, especially the requirement to wear a mask and the distancing rules.
  • If employees work in locations where it is not possible to maintain the required minimum distance to other employees, the use of plexiglass screens, the wearing of masks or the use of individual offices must be considered. If convenient, it may also be possible to alter an individual’s hours of work.
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What must international employees take into consideration?

The Graduate Academy website provides international employees with all the information they need to travel to Magdeburg.

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Can I refuse to work if third parties with whom I have workplace contact come from abroad?

No, you cannot refuse to fulfill your obligation to work. You must carefully follow the hygiene regulations. Even if there is a particular risk due to an existing underlying condition, employees may not cease to work. Where applicable, changes may be made in your own department. In such cases the right of the employer to issue instructions is broader than otherwise might be the case, meaning that the employer may transfer activities that would not normally be among your tasks. Organizational measures must be taken to ensure that contact is kept to a minimum. The minimum distances must be maintained and the gathering of many people in small spaces must be avoided. It is worth checking whether it is possible to minimize contact and thus interrupt chains of infection by implementing staggered start and finish times in offices in which several employees work. In those cases where employees are able to carry out their duties by working from home, in order to maintain operations the possibility of implementing alternating models by which the employees in a department would all be equally affected might provide a solution. Primarily these measures are the responsibility of the immediate superior, while the HR department must be involved in cases of doubt. Meetings and consultations should be limited to an absolutely essential minimum. Wherever possible they should take place digitally. Furthermore, if contact is made with third persons, a mouth and nose covering must be worn.

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Is there an entitlement to remote working? What is valid from 01.07.2021?

There is no entitlement to work remotely. Remote working may be authorized if the activity is suitable for doing so. This means that:

  • all or a significant part of the work involved can be completed remotely,
  • the line managers (Deans, heads of organizational units etc.) must draw up a work plan for the employees concerned, if they are not undertaking independent scientific/academic work,
  • it must be possible to reach the individual by email and telephone,
  • the individual shall be obliged to check their emails and the website several times a day. A call diversion service must be set up, or contact information left on the answer machine message,
  • personal presence is not required (for example there is no regular customer contact),
  • data protection is adhered to.

As long as the phased plan applies, mobile work can be arranged between employees and their supervisors, even without concluding an addendum to the employment contract. Mobile work can be granted if, for example, the size of the room still does not permit double staffing or, for example, family care tasks have to be managed in parallel but without any loss of performance. The prerequisite is that the above-mentioned requirements are met. These include, in particular, data protection and the possibility of completing work tasks in full. In addition, no work tasks may be reassigned at the expense of employees who perform their work in the presence of others.

If employees already want regular mobile work at the present time, an addendum to the employment contract can also be concluded. In this case, the agreement on the implementation of mobile work, published in the announcements Part II under 5.1 Working time, shall apply in full.

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What minimum standards must be adhered to in the event that working from home is agreed? What must be documented?

If there is no agreement on mobile work in the employment contract, mobile work can still be performed in stage 1. In this case, many facts relating to the equipment of the workplace and the conclusion of an agreement do not apply. Other facts must nevertheless be observed:

  • Definition of activities that are expected when working from home
  • Compliance with data protection and IT security
  • Specification of attendance times
  • Regulations concerning breaks, observance of maximum working hours and rest periods
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Are any groups of employees excluded from the possibility of working remotely?

Employees who cannot complete their work from home may NOT work remotely. Generally this includes technicians, laboratory staff, workers (K4, K5), library staff, employees with duties requiring attendance, whose work tools are only available at the university or who are working on documents that are not suitable for remote working (personal documents, personnel or student files) etc. Employees who do not have the technical prerequisites for digital working and for whom no equipment can be provided, may also not make use of the opportunity to work remotely.

If remote working can be facilitated, it must be determined whether work must nevertheless be completed on site (mail processing, collection of work for working on from home, participation in meetings etc.).

If employees are able to complete at least part of their work from home by creating the right technical conditions, it may be possible to agree split working, in order to reduce contacts within the office. For the remote working part, the duties must be specified and also checked. The immediate superior is responsible for this; in any case there must be coordination with the next level above, in order to avoid any unequal treatment.

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Which legal provisions apply to remote working?

The service agreement on the execution of remote work applies without restriction.

However no individual remote working agreements will be concluded, instead arrangements will be made between managers and their staff. Work tasks will be defined, conferred and checked.

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Which work tasks can be transferred to the home office?

Remote working can only be agreed if activities can also be completed from home.

Employees who are working from home must complete their duties in full and must be available at all times during their core working hours.

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How will availability during remote working be ensured?

It must be possible to reach the employee by email and telephone. The employee shall be obliged to check their emails and the website several times a day. The setting up of a call forwarding service must be arranged.

In general, employees must be available from 8.30 am to 3 pm. People who are caring for children during their core working hours and who therefore need to work flexibly, must come to corresponding agreements with their supervisors and/or within their organizational unit. The managers of the organizational units must ensure that the arrangements are implemented.

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Will continuing education courses be offered?

Continuing education courses for employees are offered regularly in online format. This applies to courses by both internal and external providers. Courses that require attendance in person in order to achieve their learning objectives will be postponed until the Control Ordinance is lifted, unless it is absolutely necessary that they be held. This may be the case for training that is required by law, or courses that convey knowledge that is absolutely essential (e.g. legal regulations). In this case, the courses must be held in dedicated rooms in compliance with individual hygiene plans.

Coaching sessions and mediation will be carried out according to need. In general, it can be assumed that coaching sessions will be carried out online. Face-to-face coaching must be justified and carried out in compliance with hygiene rules.

Mediation may be deferred or continued in digital form if the participants consider it to be useful.

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Are the university premises open?

The imposition of Tier 4 restrictions entails the closure to the public of the university’s premises. In turn, until further notice and without limitation, the regulations of the announcement – “Access in the case of closure of the buildings in basic operation; granting of additional locking authorization for building access doors” (UOB Part III dated 24.03.2020) apply.

For this reason, from 21.12.2020, it will only still be possible for employees to access the premises if they have locking authorization for the respective building access doors. Separate regulations apply for buildings 6, 9, 10 and 50 and will be communicated on a departmental basis. In case of need, at all times the information and safeguarding service (Tel. 54444) is available for consultation concerning the procedures currently in force and/or for agreements required individually within the applicable framework conditions.

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Last Modification: 12.07.2021 - Contact Person: Katharina Vorwerk