Kurzarbeit in Germany: What is it and how does it work

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.

 

Your turn

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!

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English skills.

Job seeking in Germany

Look for a job in Germany

There are many different reasons why people decide to leave their home nations to start anew somewhere else in the world, however, regardless of the reason that motivated you to take such a huge decision, starting a new life means facing new challenges such as language learning, the integration into a new culture or finding a job.

Certain situations such as finding new friends or learning a foreign language depend on your social and learning skills and, of course, on your own interest.

Other situations, such as the financial one, depend not only on our inner ability to deal with economics but also on external factors that we can´t always have under control. One of those external factors is the job market, which is connected to the market´s demand and which varies depending on the sector.

Almost 600.000 job vacancies in Germany are to be filled as soon as possible

But, how is the German job market? Is it true that there are million of job opportunities in Germany? To answer those questions let´s have a look to the german labor market situation:

Some facts

  • According to Eures, Germany has the fourth largest national economy in the world
  • Over 90% of the companies are small and medium sized enterprises (which means that two-thirds of all the job opportunities in the country come from them)
  • In 2015 Germany came first in terms on foreign trade, just before USA and China

In which sector you can find a job?

Less than 600.000 vacancies were registered in Germany during 2016 and more than 90% of those are to be filled as soon as possible. At the beginning of 2016 the biggest amount of job offers were advertised in:

  1. Health
  2. Social work & Education
  3. Manufacturing industry
  4. Wholesale & Retail Trade
  5. Maintenance of vehicles

However the advertised job opportunities vary depending on the region. For example, 25 of the 50 largest german companies have their headquarters in NRW. Enterprises such as Deutsche Telekom, Aldi, Bayern or Metro Group are responsible of transformation of this region, which is one of the most important business area of the country. However, the development of the Baden-Württemberg region depends on the performance of small and medium.sized companies, since two thirds of the employees work for a SME. The key sectors here are automotive engineering and metal industry (Daimler AG is located in this region).

Although all the previous differences, there is still something that all these regions have in common: the job application process.

As you can imagine, since Germans are in love with guidelines, the job application process have some specific “rules” you should follow.

Let´s see how you can apply for a job in Germany:

Cover Letter

The cover letter is a key document because it is your presentation letter, which means, it is you opportunity to set yourself apart from the other applicants.

In your covering letter, you have to explain the company why you are interested in working with them and why your skills and competences match the job description specification.

Curriculum Vitae

As a rule in Germany the most recent professional experiences are usually placed at the beginning, following a photo and your personal information.

The most important categories into which your CV should be divided are:

  • Photo and personal details

It is recommended to take a professional photo.

  • Professional experience

Including the name of the companies where you have previously worked and a short description of your tasks.

  • Education

In Germany it is really important to mention which level of education do you have (master, bachelor, elementary school, PhD…). List to which schools and universities did you attend and, also, do not forget to mention if you have done any continuing education course.

  • Language skills

If you speak many different language you should explain how well do you speak them. Let´s see how you can do that:

          “Muttersprache” – Native Level (C2)

          “Verhandlungssicher” – Business Level (C1)

          “Fließend” – Fluent (B1/B2)

          “Grundkenntnisse” – Basic Knowledge (A1/A2)

Technical Skills

Under the title EDV list all your technical skills such as computer skills (Office, Gmail, Outlook) or more specific skills which that are important for your work.

Certificates

As I previously mentioned, in Germany it is really important to explain which level of education do you have, but it is even more important to prove it.

Therefore you have to attach all your important educational records to prove your education level, as well as all the language certificates that can prove which language level you reached (B1, A2..)

Another important certificate, if not the most, when applying for a job in Germany is the Zeugnis, which is a reference letter written by a previous employer. The Zeugnis is a description of the tasks you accomplished and your performance during the time you worked the company.

Once you have collected all the required documents I highly recommend you to keep two copies. One scanned copy, so you can have it in your computer to make some online applications, and a printed version that you can bring to your next interview.

apply for a job in germany

And you, are you willing to work in Germany? Have you ever apply to a job possition in Germany? Did you miss any information? Share your thoughts!