Clouds, rain and thunder: Is summer in Germany over?

Heavy showers, hail and thunderstorms have been lashing Germany in recent days.

Clouds, rain and thunder: Is summer in Germany over?
A woman goes for a walk with her dog at Hintersee near Berchtesgaden, Bavaria. Photo: DP

Amid an ongoing drought, farmers have been hoping for heavy rain in August – and they are likely to get a bit of relief this week. 

Forecasters say an area of low pressure is directing warm and humid air to Germany this week, but rain and thunderstorms are expected too.

Germany's weather service said damp, warm and thundery conditions were expected in the coming days with risk of storms with strong rain and hailstones.

The German Weather Service (DWD) said highs above 25C are expected in some parts of the country this week, although it will remain cooler in the north around the coastal areas. 

But the warm temperatures will be accompanied by showers and thunderstorms, resulting in humid and uncomfortable conditions.

“At times it will get really intense with heavy rain, hail and gusts of wind,” said Adrian Leyser, a meteorologist with the DWD. 

READ ALSO: German potato prices set to spike due to drought

The unsettled picture remains in place until Wednesday or Thursday, “particularly in the southern half of Germany,”  said Leyser.

Although water is a welcome addition to drought-hit Germany, forecasters say the rain may only fall in certain regions, and some areas will miss out on much-needed hydration.

Changeable weather

On Monday, the northeast and southwest will avoid most of the rain (although they may see a few showers), while areas below the Danube river will get the most sun. Maximum temperatures are between 21C and 27C in the north, and 26C to 30C elsewhere.

On Tuesday it's also cloudy with showers and a risk of thunderstorms, especially in the south, southwest and central parts of Germany.

Temperatures will be between 20C and 25C in the north and between 25C and 30C everywhere else.

In the second half of the week, it is expected to get warmer, with the mercury hitting 30C. But that could be followed by more heavy thunderstorms.

The lesson? Pack your umbrella if you head out for an ice cream to cool down.

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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?