German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet on Wednesday agreed to stricter regulations for the meat industry, after coronavirus outbreaks exposed the poor working conditions.
The key points of the labour reforms approved at a cabinet meeting include a ban on subcontracted and temporary work at abattoirs and meat-packing plants from Jan.1, 2021.
Exceptions are to be made for butchers.
Fines for employers who violate working hour regulations will also double from a current maximum of 15,000 euros (16,425 dollars) to up to 30,000 euros.
Hours will have to be recorded digitally and authorities are to conduct more frequent checks.
The German meat industry relies heavily on workers from Eastern Europe, who are brought to the country with the help of subcontractors and are often housed in shared accommodation.
The novel Coronavirus has spread rapidly among the staff of a number of German abbatoirs.
Earlier this month, an abattoir in the western district of Coesfeld had to close temporarily after more than 100 workers tested positive.
As of late Monday, the number of cases had risen to 279 out of 1,200 employees.
Another abbatoir in the town of Dissen also had to close briefly after 92 members of its 278-workforce were confirmed to have the virus.
The majority of the people affected were from Poland and Romania and had been staying in accommodation where hygiene measures were not followed.