A new (light) lockdown is in effect in Germany since beginning of November. Restaurants and bars have been closed, while stores and offices are allowed to remain open. All public events have been cancelled and recreational facilities, such as museums, theaters, and sports facilities had to close. In order to deal with the economic impact of these measures, the German government has announced new financial aids. Companies and freelancers affected by the temporary closures will be supported with a total volume of over 10 billion Euros. Subsidies in the amount of up to 75 % of the average weekly revenue in November 2019 will be granted per week of closure, up to a maximum of one million Euros. Companies indirectly affected by the new lockdown measure can also receive financial aid, if they can demonstrate that they usually create at least 80% of their revenue from companies directly affected by the closures. Additionally, existing financial aids, such as so-called “quick loans” will be extended. From the current angle, further restrictions as well as further financial aids are likely to be announced in the next weeks.
The option for employees to receive a sick note from a doctor through a phone call already existed temporarily earlier during the pandemic and has now been reintroduced until the end of the year. Employees suffering from mild respiratory diseases can be granted sick leave by their doctor for up to seven days via telephone. A one-time extension of the sick leave for up to seven days can again be granted based on such a telephone consultation. Latest at the end of this period, a sick employee must appear in person at a doctor in order to be granted further sick leave. It will remain difficult for employers to prevent abuse of this new rule.
The German government has decided to increase the statutory minimum wage to 10.45 Euros per hour in four steps until July 2022. As a first step, the minimum wage will increase from currently 9.35 Euros to 9.50 Euros with effect as of 1 January 2021.
Legislation regarding mobile work
Employees in Germany currently have no legal claim to work from home or from another place outside of the employer’s premises. As mentioned in our previous Employment Law Tracker, the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs recently intended to introduce such legal claim to the extent of 24 working days a year, whereas employers would have to present compelling operational reasons to be able to refuse this claim or they would have to justify why the work performed is fundamentally not suitable for being performed from a home office. However, the German federal chancellor’s office has rejected the first draft of a corresponding law as unsuitable. In light of this, the German Minister of Labor and Social Affairs has declared that he is no longer seeking to introduce an enforceable claim to home office by law, but he is continuing the debate on a “modern legislative framework” for mobile work, relating in particular to surveillance and recording of working time and occupational health and safety issues. The topic remains controversial, especially because home office work has increased significantly due to the current circumstances.
For more information on these articles or any other issues involving labour and employment matters in Germany, please contact Dr. Tobias Pusch (Partner) of Pusch Wahlig Workplace Law at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.pwwl.de.