Physical work at work : women are allowed to carry a maximum of 15 kilograms

A chop shop is facing a lawsuit for rejecting an applicant based on her gender. But: according to Suva, women are not allowed to carry as heavy a load as men.

According to Suva, women between the ages of 20 and 35 may be expected to weigh 15 kilograms - men, on the other hand, 25 kilograms

According to Suva, women between the ages of 20 and 35 may be expected to gain 15 kilograms – men, on the other hand, 25 kilos.

As a trained farrier, Michelle Keist feels at home in male domains and has already worked as a chauffeuse. In response to her application, the company said that as a woman she was not up to the physical demands of the job

Michelle Keist feels at home in male domains as a trained farrier and has already worked as a chauffeur. In response to her application, the company said that as a woman she was not up to the physical demands of the job.

"Due to the physical requirements, we could only consider men for this position," the company wrote. It now says the case worker used an old template.

Michelle Keist applied unsuccessfully for a job as a chauffeuse at the brokering house Job International. More than the rejection, however, the 24-year-old was astonished by the company’s reasoning. "Due to the physical requirements, we could only consider men for this position," the response letter states.

The company stressed that it was a mistake. An old template had been used. According to labor law professor Thomas Geiser, this is "impermissible discrimination" that clearly targets gender. If the rejected applicant files a lawsuit, it could cost the Brocki dearly: Depending on the court’s decision, the young woman could be entitled to up to three months’ wages.

Guideline values for the protection of employees

In fact, with regard to physical work, there are different guidelines for men and women. According to the Suva leaflet "Lift right – carry right", the acceptable load weight for a woman between 20 and 35 years of age is 15 kilograms, while for a man of the same age it is 25 kilograms.

Even in the age of equality, such guideline values are still justified, Suva says. "The guideline values are based on the different physical capabilities of women and men," says spokesman Serkan Isik. These are average values that are based on international norms and serve to protect employees. "In any case, companies are obliged to instruct employees on how to handle loads," says Isik.

Judges can consult leaflets

The guideline values were to be understood as "intervention thresholds". Will mean: If a company does not adhere to it, "the situation must be reviewed and adjusted if necessary," as Isik explains.

Despite different guidelines for men and women at physical work: the Suva leaflet should not exonerate the Brocki, if Michelle Keist files a lawsuit. "Generally, official leaflets or guidelines do not have the same binding effect as a law or a regulation," says Roger Rudolph, a specialist attorney for labor law. Nevertheless, their meaning can be quite significant – especially when it comes to an accident. "In such a case, an employer must expect that a court, based on the guidelines, will accuse him of having neglected employee protection," says the lawyer.

"Male" job descriptions are not discriminatory

A job posting looking only for men or women is unobjectionable under discrimination law. "The Equality Act does not yet apply when a job is advertised, but only afterwards," explains Rudolph. So the Brockenstube should have been allowed to look for "male chauffeurs". "If, however, a woman had then nevertheless applied for it, one would not be allowed to reject her simply across-the-board because of her gender," the lawyer said. Because in the selection of applicants, the Equality Act takes effect.

Special rules for pregnant women

In addition to gender-based differences, special protections apply to pregnant women. You must not be exposed to various hazardous influences. "This ranges from weights to temperatures to chemical and biological substances," says Suva spokesman Serkan Isik.

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