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The Reichstag, housing the Bundestag, lower house of the federal parliament, in Berlin / Photo: Femi Awoniyi

Germany: New legal regulations from 1 August 2020

The new month begins with a number of legislative changes that you should be aware of. From August 2020, not only corona tests will be mandatory for people returning to Germany from some countries, but there will also be more financial support for pupils, students and employees in further education and training. Moreover, there will be changes affecting government assistance for companies affected by the coronavirus pandemic and workers posted to Germany from another member state of the EU. These are some of the new legal regulations that come into force on 1 August:

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EDUCATION & TRAINING

More financial support for pupils, students, employees in further education and training
There’s good news for all those who want to boost their professional development. From August 2020, for example, trainees, students and employees who are seeking further training will enjoy more financial support from the state.

If you want to continue your education or training on a part-time or full-time basis, the state will grant you a higher subsidy (Zuschuss) from 1 August 2020. With the reform of the so-called Aufstiegs-Bafög (Federal Law on Financial Aid for Professional Advancement), government now covers at least 50 percent of the costs for courses and examinations.

The Aufstiegs-BAföG (formerly known as Meister-Bafög) provides financial support to people undergoing further vocational training.

Previously, 40 percent was granted as a subsidy and 60 percent as a low-interest loan from the KfW Bank. If you pass the examination you will even receive a further subsidy on top of that. And if you become self-employed afterwards, you will be reimbursed the remaining part of the loan in full.

If you continue your education exclusively at a school, the state will also cover all costs – instead of only half as before. The following also applies to all recipients of Aufstiegs-Bafög: there are higher childcare allowances (Zuschläge für die Kinderbetreuung) and the allowance for living expenses (Zuschuss zum Lebens-Unterhalt) does not have to be repaid.

The training assistance provides funding for people aiming for further training qualifications in jobs such as industrial supervisors, early childhood teachers, technicians, commercial specialists, certified business specialists or in one of over 700 comparable professions. There is no age limit for the funding.

More money for trainees and students
If you start an apprenticeship and can no longer live with your parents because of the distance to your workplace, but your salary is not sufficient for housing, food, etc., the state steps in with the so-called Berufsausbildungsbeihilfe (BAB). From August, the subsidy will increase from 716 to 732 euros per month. You can also benefit from the BAB if you are preparing to graduate from school or start an apprenticeship and has children.

Conventional Bafög will be available from August for more students and pupils. The maximum rates will rise from 853 to 861 euros per month for students and from 825 to 832 euros per month for pupils.

READ ALSO Coronavirus pandemic: Who is allowed to enter Germany?

LABOUR / SOCIAL AFFAIRS

More protection for transferred workers
Employees posted to Germany from another member state of the EU (entsandte Arbeitnehmer) are from now on entitled to a standard wage, according to the amended EU Posting of Workers Directive. In addition, they will receive Christmas and holiday bonuses, as well as hazard allowances.

Travel costs – travel, accommodation and catering – for business trips within Germany are to be paid by the companies, moving their employees from one member state to another, and these may not be deducted from the minimum wage.

As a matter of principle, employees from abroad will in future be subject to all working conditions in force in Germany after twelve months of employment. An exception is for the long-distance drivers. The law entered into force on 30 July 2020. Employers face a fine of up to 500,000 euros for violations.

No more twelve-hour shifts
Since March, employers have been able to order longer working hours in certain professions – up to twelve hours a day. Work on Sundays and public holidays was also possible. This Corona Working Hours Act in force since mid-April has now expired. However, exceptions may be allowed by the authorities.

BUSINESS

Bridging assistance (Überbrückungshilfen) for companies hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic
Small and medium-sized businesses that are particularly affected by the pandemic can apply for the bridging aid – but only until the end of August.
The support is part of the German government’s economic stimulus package. Fixed operating costs of up to €50,000 per month from June to August are reimbursed. The application can only be made through a tax consultant, auditor or chartered accountant.

TRAVEL

Corona tests at airports
The German government will introduce free and compulsory coronavirus tests at airports for people entering from risk areas, that is countries with high coronavirus case numbers. Free corona tests have been possible at some airports since the end of July – but so far they are voluntary.

From August 2020, anyone travelling to a country currently classified as a corona risk area must undergo an obligatory corona test when they return to Germany. This was announced by Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn at the end of July. The tests are to be free of charge for all persons entering Germany, Spahn stressed. Testing should “never be a cost issue for the individual” and also “not a social issue”, the minister said.

Spahn also emphasised that the testing obligation should only apply to returnees from risk countries, i.e. countries with high infection rates. The minister ruled out an extension to non-risk countries.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) will determine which regions and countries are considered risk areas.

Worldwide travel warning set to expire
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Foreign Office issued a global warning against tourist travel. For countries in the EU and Schengen-associated states (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) as well as the United Kingdom, the warning was lifted on 15 June and replaced with a travel advice.

The travel warning for countries outside the EU – so-called Third Countries – is set to expire on 31 August unless the government extends it.

Femi Awoniyi/ ©AfricanCourierMedia

 

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