These days the world is facing an unprecedent challenge which is leading to a variety of responses, depending on the country.
Italians and Spaniards, among others, are confined at home working remotely, whenever it is possible, and waiting for the day they can go out, have a long walk and breathe fresh air. Germans, however, are still allowed to go out and enjoy nature, respecting social distancing.
If you are an expat living in Germany, I am quite convinced that this challenging situation had forced you to learn new vocabulary such as Sicherheitsabstand, Ausgangssperre and, in the worst cases, Kurzarbeit.
Yes, due to the current situation many of you have asked me about this last word – Kurzarbeit via social media.
Therefore, I am going to answer all your questions by explaining what is Kurzarbeit, how does it work and what you can do during this time.
What is Kurzarbeit?
The meaning of Kurzarbeit is short-time working, which is a special situation in which employees agree to or are forced to accept a reduction in working time and pay.
Most of the time, this situation appears when employers decide to avoid laying off any of their employees by instead reducing working hours and payment, being the government in charge of making up some of the employee’s lost income.
Are working hours reduced equally for all employees?
Working hours do not need to be reduced by the same percentage for all employees. In fact, Kurzarbeit does not need to be introduced for the entire company. It can be limited to individual departments within it.
The most important thing here is that, for all affected employees, the cut in working hours and pay is effectively agreed on the basis of collective agreements or firm-level agreements.
If your company does not have a work council (Betriebsrat), all employees affected have to agree the short-time work. Otherwise, the Betriebsrat needs to agree for short-time work to be introduced.
Is short-time work also possible for trainees and students?
Yes, trainees and students doing any internship in a company are counted as employees who work for the company when the short-time work applies. This includes also employees who are not in jobs subject to social insurance contributors (ex. Mini-jobs).
What happen with Resturlaub? Do employees need to take any holiday leave carried over from the previous year?
If employees still have Resturlaub, they are in principle required to take this holiday leave to avoid loss of payment of Kurzarbeitergeld, in case it is needed. This does not apply if the employees have other plans for the year when the Kurzarbeit is being planned.
What is Kurzarbeitergeld?
In Germany the Agentur für Arbeit (Employment Agency) pays the short-time allowance (Kurzarbeitergeld) for a loss of earnings caused by a temporary cut in working hours. This reduces costs faced by employers and enables them to continue to employ their employees.
The period for which the short-time allowance can be received is limited to 12 months.
How do I apply for Kurzarbeitergeld?
It is the employer who must apply to the Agentür für Arbeit for the short-time allowance.
Employers must declare the reduction of hours before the application is submitted. Then, the authority have to check whether the social and labor law requirements are met.
Once this process is done, employees will be entitled to receive the Kurzarbeitergeld.
Are all employees entitled to receive Kurzarbeitergeld?
All employees who have a loss of earnings of more than 10 per cent of their pay due to the short-time work and who remain in employment subject to social insurance contributions are entitled to receive Kurzarbeitergeld.
But they are not the only ones. The following employees are also included:
- Temporary employees
- Employees who are on holidays
- Students subject to social insurance contributions
- Sick employees unable to work and not already entitled to sick leave
- Trainees with wages of up to €325
Who is not entitled to receive Kurzarbeitergeld?
Following employee groups are not entitled to receive short-time allowance and can’t be included in the calculation of loss of working hours:
- Employees receiving Krankengeld (sick pay) before the introduction of the short-time work
- Employees receiving monetary support from Agentur für Arbeit (Employment Agency)
- Students employed without being subject to social security contributions
- Employees in Elternzeit (Parental leave) receiving Elterngeld
- Employees on Bildungsurlaub (Educational leave)
Can a continuing education or training program be continued during Kurzarbeit?
A continuing education or training program must be adapted, in terms of time, to the short-time work.
This situation will end when the employee returns to his/her normal working hours.
Are employees on Kurzarbeit allowed to have other job?
Sure it is allowed to have a side job. However, income coming from a side job will be included in the calculation and will reduce the amount of Kurzarbeitergeld.
Have you ever experienced Kurzarbeit in Germany? Is there any other information you think I should include in this post?
In case you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social networks. I am always thrilled to read your experiences!