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WEATHER

Mini heatwave: Germany poised for soaring temperatures

Germany has been mainly wet and windy over the past weeks... but temperatures up to 30C are possible in the coming days.

Mini heatwave: Germany poised for soaring temperatures
A woman enjoying the sun at Kochel am See in Bavaria on May 23rd. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Matthias Balk

A large bubble of warm air is making its way to central Europe next week, reported German media outlet Focus on Thursday.

And temperatures in the late 20s are forecast in Germany – with highs of 30C possible.

Average temperatures will rise by 5 to 10C early next week – a huge jump from the current weather which has been dominated by torrential rain showers and wind.

It’s not yet possible to make precise forecasts for individual cities or districts. But signs show that some regions will certainly get a blast of warmth.

Since the air is arriving from the west, the chances of warm to hot weather are highest in western Germany. On the Rhine, Main and Moselle rivers, residents can look forward to T-shirt and shorts weather.

Along the Rhine, the mercury could reach 30C locally as early as Wednesday. However, forecasters are still divided as to whether the highest temperatures will be logged on Wednesday or Thursday.

Weather: Storm to strike Germany over three day weekend

Still uncertain for east, north and south

So the west is going to be warm – and it is very probable that the rest of the country will also get a share of the hot air, although it’s not yet certain.

The further east you go, the later the warm air arrives. And in the next few days we’ll be able to see whether the hot summer temperatures will also reach the north. In the south, too, the thermometer could stay below 25C – at least that’s what some forecasts suggest.

The uncertainty in the forecasts is also fuelled by so-called outliers. For example, there are warm outliers that forecast 30C across Germany. But there are also cold outliers that predict barely 20C. The truth usually lies in between. And depending on which weather model is also used in the weather apps, the mercury jumps accordingly.

To be able to judge the weather situation, it’s always helpful to look at the overall big picture because that usually doesn’t change so much.

What we can see is a bubble of warm air forming over Spain and France, and moving to the east – therefore also to Germany. 

How far north the warm air will advance and how quickly it moves towards Germany remains to be seen.

But the summer air cannot be stopped. So next week at least some people in the Bundesrepublik will have to dig out their summer clothes and the sunscreen. Or go for a dip in an outdoor pool, many of which opened around Germany last week.

READ ALSO: Germans return to pools and beer gardens as some Covid measures are lifted

Vocabulary

Heatwave – (die) Hitzewelle

Warm bubble or air/warm air – (die) Warmluftblase

Outliers (die) Ausreißer (or singular der Ausreißer)

Average temperatures – (die) Durchschnittstemperaturen (or singular die Durchschnittstemperatur)

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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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