7 January 2021
Recent changes to German employment law will require employers to respond to ensure that their compliance is compatible with the new legislation.
Since January 1, 2021, the statutory minimum wage has increased to EUR 9.50 gross per working hour. A further increase to EUR 9.60 gross per working hour will take place from July 2021 on. Further increases will follow in 2022. Employers must therefore note that mini-jobbers may only work around 47 hours per month in order not to exceed the 450-euro limit.
The European Directive 2019/1937/EU on the protection of whistle-blowers has to be implemented not later than December 2021 by the Federal Republic of Germany. This includes a mandatory reporting system for companies with 50 or more employees and protection and support measures for whistle-blowers. Close monitoring of status of implementation and current internal structure is required.
The special regulations for short-time allowance established due to the COVID pandemic are now valid until the end of the year. This means in detail:
In contrast, the generous handling by the German Federal Employment Agency (“BA”) regarding the use of employees' vacation entitlements to avoid short-time working has been changed. Whereas the BA refrained from requesting employees to use their vacation entitlements until the end of 2020, from now on any remaining leave carried over from 2020 and leave from 2021 must be brought in as a precondition for applying for short-time allowance. However, employees' vacation wishes are to continue to take precedence.
Section 56 (1a) of the Infection Protection Act (Infektionsschutzgesetz – “IfSG”) grants a claim for compensation to employees who have to supervise, care for or nurse their child themselves due to an official closure or ban on entering care facilities (e.g. daycare center, school or facility for people with disabilities) or a segregation affecting the child personally and therefore suffer a loss of earnings. In the case of shared care, parents receive compensation for up to ten days of loss of earnings; in the case of sole supervision, care or nursing, up to 20 days. Compensation amounts to 67%of the loss of earnings incurred by the employed person concerned, up to a maximum of EUR 2.016 per month for a full month.
At the beginning of the year, the agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom came into force preliminarily. Under the agreement, British nationals entering Germany this year will enjoy easier access to the labour market. They will not need a visa to enter the country if they plan to stay in Germany for a longer period of time for work purposes.
Due to COVID works councils were given the opportunity for the first time to make virtual decisions and hold virtual works meetings. The applicable section 129 of the Works Council Constitution Act (Betriebsverfassungsgesetz – “BetrVG”) was originally limited until December 31, 2020, but is now extended to June 30, 2021.
The solidarity surcharge (Solidaritätszuschlag or Soli for short), a much-maligned tax supplement is set to be abolished for the majority of taxpayers as of January 2021. The Solidaritätszuschlag was introduced in the 1990s to contribute towards the cost of reunification. Single taxpayer will have to earn more than EUR 61.700 to be liable nonetheless. Parents with two or more children will only pay the tax if the combined gross annual income exceeds around EUR 151.000.