Coronavirus: Information for employees

Following the easing of restrictions in the research area, we can now gradually retract the restrictions on office presence as well, from 11 May onwards. A cautious approach is planned in three stages. The top priority remains the protection of the health of everyone.

11 May 2020 to 7 June 2020

  • Continuation, in general, of working from home for all activities which do not require presence.
  • Selective presence in the office with superior's approval, in compliance with distancing and hygiene regulations, in accordance with the protection concept.
  • Meetings continue to take place online.

8 June 2020 until 31 July 2020 (possibly longer)

  • Continuation, in general, of home office where possible and reasonable.
  • Regular presence in the office with superior's approval, observing the distancing and hygiene regulations, in accordance with the protection concept.
  • There is no full presence of the premises, the movement of people in the institutes remains limited.
  • Subject to the conditions of the protection concept, in-person meetings can be held again.

Phase 3 starting 1 August 2020 at the earliest (if measures taken by the Federal Council allow)

  • In the medium term, achieving a state of full presence will be aimed for.
  • If necessary, there will be partial assignments to work from home to reduce the density of people, continue to protect people at risk, and maintain any temporary quarantines.

For every activity within the rooms or facilities of the university, adherence to a protection concept is necessary. It was developed by the Risk Management Unit. The managing directors will make appropriate plans for its implementation. Specific regulations apply to research and teaching.

Protection Concept of the University of Bern during Covid-19 for employees with an administrative function

The University of Bern's protection concept is the basis for the university unit’s ability to resume their activities in university premises and facilities. There is a separate protection concept for the research area.


The managing directorates are responsible for the implementation and compliance with the protection concept. The safety officers (GeSiBe, KOPAS) are authorised on behalf of the Managing Directorates to ensure compliance with this protection concept and have the right to issue instructions in this regard.

Protection Concept

  • Employees and other people will keep a distance of 2m between each other.
  • Only one person should be present per room. Otherwise, a standard of at least 10m2 per person applies, with a maximum of 5 people permitted per room.
  • If the distance rules cannot be observed, a hygiene mask must be worn.
  • Regular washing of hands is mandatory.
  • Employees who are particularly at risk (risk groups) generally work in their home office.
  • Avoid public transport as far as possible when travelling to and from work.
  • In the event of a Sars-CoV-2 infection, in order to be able to trace personal contact of less than 2 meters and longer than 15 minutes, each person is obliged to keep a personal and daily updated logbook (digital or by form). The logbook must be kept for 4 weeks.
  • It is recommended that employees be deployed in shifts or in strictly separated teams.
  • Meetings must continue to be held digitally.
  • These are to be approved by the managing directors or - in consultation - with direct superiors.
  • A confirmed Sars-Cov-2 infection must be reported to the supervisor. The logbook is then used to trace the contacts.
  • University of Bern employees with possible Sars-Cov-2 infection or disease symptoms can be tested at the University Emergency Centre (UNZ) of the Inselspital on request. The University of Bern has made an agreement with the UNZ, in which this testing will be able to be carried out without complications. During service hours (daily 10:00- 17:00) you can report to the reception of the emergency unit and identify yourself with your UNICARD. Advance notification is not necessary. No costs will be incurred by employees. The invoice will be sent to the University of Bern. The results of the swab test are available within 36 hours. In the event of a positive COVID-19 result, patients will be informed by telephone. Negative results will not be reported. In urgent cases or when outside of service hours, a swab test can be performed as part of a normal medical consultation. Again, registration by telephone is not necessary, but a health insurance card will be required.

The institute directors and heads of department are responsible for occupational safety, health protection and environmental safety in their unit and have a health protection and safety officer (GeSiBe) at their disposal.

Depending on the size of the university unit, the directorates will appoint additional contact persons for occupational safety (KOPAS). Accordingly, they will define job descriptions for the GeSiBe or KOPAS, entrust a person suitable for the performance of the function with the corresponding tasks and competencies and grant sufficient time, financial and other resources to enable implementation of this task.

It should be noted that responsibility in the areas of occupational safety, health protection and environmental safety is necessarily the responsibility of the institute's management or the head of department and cannot be transferred to the GeSiBe or KOPAS. Corresponding information can also be found in the guidelines of the Exective Board of the University on the duties and employment of full and associate professors at the University of Bern dated 23 August 2011, and in the leaflet «Overview of the most important duties of the managing directors of the Institute» (in German) dated 20 December 2009/06.10.20152.

Further explanations of the responsibilities for safety arrangements can be found in the Safety and Environment Guidelines (in German) of the Risk Management Unit.

Working at home

Circumstances continue to demand flexibility, patience, and a pragmatic and caring attitude from all concerned.

Home office means simply that employees do their normal work from home. The usual terms of employment and mutual obligations still apply. Nothing changes in terms of an employee's duties when working from home.

Working time is recorded with the usual time recording system. If this is not available, working times are noted and subsequently recorded in the system.

In principle, the actual working time is recorded.

If the work cannot be performed at the workplace, starting on April 1, 2020, employees will first draw from any annual working time credits until the balance is zero. Afterwards, the managing directors can authorise paid leave for additionally needed time.

Care duties have priority. If the care cannot be organised in any other way, starting on 1 April 2020, the annual working time credits will first be reduced to zero in consultation with the superiors. Then, paid short leave will be granted for the additionally needed time.

No. If the flexitime credits are used up, then paid short leave is granted.

The new coronavirus is particularly dangerous for people over 65 and for anyone with a pre-existing condition. They can become seriously ill. For this reason, in consultation with your superiors, all especially at risk persons will stay at home. If working from home is not possible, starting on 1 April 2020, the annual working time balance will first be reduced to zero, and then paid short leave will be granted for the additionally needed time. We recommend that employees who live in the same household as people in a risk group also stay at home.

Info: With one of these pre-existing conditions one is particularly at risk:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Chronic respiratory diseases
  • Diseases and therapies that weaken the immune system
  • Cancer

In exceptional cases, when a function is absolutely necessary to maintain emergency operations and cannot be performed from home, the institution can require you to be present on site. However, you must ensure that the protection concept of the university and thus the protective measures according to the FOPH (washing hands, keeping distance) are observed.

Supervisors will regulate this in accordance with company requirements. Basically the same times and availabilities apply as at the normal workplace.

Existing business or private infrastructure must be used. If nothing is available or if there are additional requirements, this is to be discussed with your superiors.

For coordination and cooperation while working from home, the following links provide information and instructions on the use and offers of technical tools:
Informations about working from home (IT-services)

In continuing education no classroom teaching is planned until the end of May. Classroom teaching will be resumed as soon as allowed by official regulations. Until then, continuing education courses will be replaced generally by digital solutions. Participants will be informed by the program managers. Further information can be found here (in German).

Further explanations and answers to frequently asked questions can be found on the website of the Canton of Bern (in German).

If you have any further questions, please contact


Resolutions of the State Council (in German)

RRB 190/2020
RRB 265/2020
RRB 307/2020

Protect yourself and others - hygiene rules (FOPH)