A few new laws and regulations come into force in Germany in December 2019. Some of the important changes affect Hartz IV recipients, fireworks, railway time-table and highway tolls for travellers to Austria.
More money for Hartz IV recipients
Starting from next year, the standard rates for Unemployment Benefit II – better known as Hartz IV – will be increased. Most Hartz IV recipients will receive the increased rate for January 2020 at the end of December 2019 – an average of between five and eight euros more per month.
Fireworks ban in many cities on 31 December
For celebration enthusiasts, many restrictions apply when it comes to the private firing of firecrackers. They are partly prohibited in the inner cities of the following German cities and towns: Augsburg, Bamberg, Berlin, Braunschweig, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Freising, Fürth, Göttingen, Hannover, Ingolstadt, Karlsruhe, Cologne, Landshut, Lüneburg, Munich, Nuremberg, Passau, Stuttgart, Timmendorfer Strand, Wiesbaden and Würzburg
Deutsche Bahn introduces winter timetable
Deutsche Bahn will introduce its winter time-table on 15 December, as it does every year, with many connections dropped and new ones are added. For railway customers, this means: By the end of the year, there will be significantly more trains on the rails. On the Berlin-Erfurt-Munich and Berlin-Braunschweig-Frankfurt/Main routes, for example, the ICE lines will run every hour.
For the first time in years, the Deutsche Bahn will not, as usual at time-table changes, increase rail prices. The move is linked to the new climate policy of the Federal Government, which aims to make travel by train cheaper.
Increase in tolls for Austria’s motorways in 2020
The tolls for Austria’s motorways will increase in 2020; the new vignettes have been available since 1 December. The ten-day vignette now costs 9.40 euros instead of 9.20 euros. Whoever wants to buy the two-month vignette must pay 27.40 euros – it’s formerly 26.80 euros. The annual vignette is also more expensive: it now costs 91.10 euros instead of 89.20 euros.
Holidays in December
By law, workers are obliged to take all outstanding holidays by 31 December at the latest. Many employers even demand that annual leave be used up by the end of the year.
Those who want to (or must) take a holiday in December should note: Christmas Eve (December 24) and New Year Eve (December 31) are considered as normal working days in this country unless they fall on a weekend. However, many employers stipulate in the company’s agreements that their employees only have to work half days on those dates.