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Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure DE-2017-12/1131 Updated – measures in Germany

COVID-19 agreement covering workers employed by German Rail (DB) Deutsche Bahn (and collective bargaining)

Vereinbarung "Gemeinsam gegen Corona"

Country Germany , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 24 March 2017 – 31 July 2020
Context COVID-19
Type Bipartite collective agreements
Category Ensuring business continuity and support for essential services
– Change of work arrangements (working time, rota schemes)
Author Birgit Kraemer (Hans Boeckler Foundation) and Eurofound
Measure added 15 September 2020 (updated 24 February 2021)

Background information

German Rail (Deutsche Bahn, DB) is severely affected by the society-wide practice of social distancing that the German government encourage in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For DB, the pandemic means a decline in passenger transport due to a decline in tourism, to work from home and lockdowns. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the competing trade unions EVG and GdL jointly concluded an agreement with Deutsche Bahn for mitigating the pandemics impact. The agreement is not a collective agreement in the narrow sense but a social partner arrangement that provides guidelines for employment protection, flexible working and safe working conditions in a single group. The agreement covers all workers of Deutsche Bahn; the provision on special funding in case of child care only covers workers working in establishments covered by the collective agreement 'social security' (TV Soziale Sicherheit).

Content of measure

Eight principles:

  • Workers who have to stay at home to take care of their kids because of the lockdown of schools or kindergartens, may apply for special funding in case they work in an establishment covered by a collective agreement providing social security premia (TV Soziale Sicherheit).
  • No direct dismissals because of COVID-19.
  • Use of long-time working time schemes for mitigating the crisis.
  • Use of flexible working time arrangements.
  • Paid leave in case worker cannot work because of COVID-19.
  • Application of short time working schemes.
  • Application of strict OSH regulations in case of individual hardships.
  • The three parties signing the agreement will each monitor the development, inform each other and stay in contact for deciding on further measures- application of short time working schemes.


The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

16 April 2020

An update to the agreement stipulates that workers may take five days of paid leave to care for their kids affected by the lockdown of schools.

Use of measure

The employer, Deutsche Bahn, guaranteed not to use direct dismissals as a crisis-mitigation measure. The guarantee was valid until the end of July 2020. Employers and the sector trade union EVG agreed a new collective agreement in September 2020.


  • Health and safety
  • Working time flexibility

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Employees in standard employment
Parents in employment
Sector specific set of companies
Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Social partners jointly

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative No involvement
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Only trade unions
  • Main level of involvement: Company level


All relevant employer organisations and all relevant trade unions were involved in reaching the agreement. The DB group is organised in an employer organisation (AGVMove) which settles collective agreements with two competing trade unions: The Railroad and Transport workers union EVG, an affiliate of the German Confederation of Trade Unions DGB, and with the trade unions of engine drivers, the GDL, an affiliate of the second-largest trade union federation, the Civil Servants Union dbb.

Views and reactions

All social partners involved were supportive of the measure.

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      H - Transportation And Storage H49 Land transport and transport via pipelines

This case is not occupation-specific.


  • 24 March 2020: Employer Press Release
  • 20 May 2020: Trade union press release


Eurofound (2020), COVID-19 agreement covering workers employed by German Rail (DB) Deutsche Bahn (and collective bargaining), measure DE-2017-12/1131 (measures in Germany), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.