The minimum wage and Hartz IV rate will rise in the new year just as postage rates and the prices of petrol and diesel will go up. New regulations on plastic shopping bags and beverage cans and plastic bottles enter into effect as well. Here are some of the changes most likely to affect most people living in Germany
Fuel prices to rise
From 1 January 2022, the CO2 tax will rise in stages. The tax is aimed at pushing energy companies towards using renewable technologies. Fossil fuels that are harmful to the climate will then be charged 30 euros per tonne of CO2 emitted. Companies usually pass these costs on to consumers. According to the calculations of the ADAC automobile club, petrol and diesel are likely to become more expensive by about one and a half cents per litre as a result of the tax hike.
Minimum wage rises
The minimum wage will rise to €9.82 on 1 January and then go up to €10.45 on 1 July 2022. Currently, the minimum wage is 9.60 euros per hour.
The new government wants to raise the minimum wage to €12 an hour by the end of the year. A move, analysts say, may be resisted by employers’ associations.
Hartz IV rate increases
The Hartz IV standard rate for single adults will be raised by three euros to 449 euros per month. Overall, recipients of Unemployment Benefit II, social assistance and basic benefits for old age and reduced earning capacity will receive 0.76 per cent more money.
Deposit for all beverage cans and plastic bottles
From 1 January, all plastic beverage cans and non-returnable plastic bottles will be subject to a 25-cent deposit. In the case of milk and milk products, there is a transitional period until 2024. Retailers may sell remaining stocks of cans and bottles without a deposit until 1 June.
The end of plastic bags in supermarkets
From 1 January 2022, plastic bags may no longer be sold in supermarkets. The ban applies to plastic carrier bags with a wall thickness between 15 and 50 micrometres. Particularly stable reusable bags and the thin plastic bags found in the fruit and vegetable department are exempted.
Children’s sickness benefit
The pandemic-related special regulation for children’s sickness benefit will be extended: Children’s sickness benefit can also be claimed in 2022 for 30 instead of ten days per insured child (60 instead of 20 days for single parents).
Electronic Patient Record in Hospitals
It was already introduced in doctors’ practices at the beginning of 2021, and from January 2022 the electronic patient record (ePA) will also apply in hospitals. In addition, from January 2022, insured persons will be able to set the data protection rules for their ePA much more precisely. The individual insured person will then decide who may access which data.
Electronic sick note
From 1 July 2022, the electronic certificate of incapacity for work (eAU) will go from doctors and health insurers directly to employers. Since October 2021, people with statutory health insurance no longer receive a “yellow slip of paper” (the certificate of incapacity for work) when they are sick. Instead, the eAU is sent digitally directly from the doctor’s office to the health insurance company.
No ticket sales on the train
The sale of tickets on long-distance trains will end on 1 January 2022. Travellers will however still be able to buy a digital ticket via the Deutsche Bahn app or the bahn.de website within ten minutes of departure.
Exchange of old driving licences
By 2033, all driver’s licenses issued before 2013 have to be exchanged for a standard EU ones. But the deadline is staggered based on people’s age. Anyone born between 1953 and 1958 who holds a driving licence issued before or on 31 December 1998 must exchange it for new ones by 19 January 2022 at the latest.
Surveys suggest that many people still haven’t done this. Anyone who lets the deadline pass risks an initial ‘warning’ fine of ten euros.
Postage rates rise
Deutsche Post is increasing its postage rates on 1 January: standard, compact, large and maxi letters will each cost five cents more to post. Sending a postcard will cost 70 instead of 60 cents. The standard letter will increase in price from 80 to 85 cents.
New contracts can be terminated more quickly
Currently, fixed-term contracts usually have to be terminated three months before the end of the contract term: If the deadline is missed, they are extended by one year. This will change as from 1 March 2022. Then contracts may only have a notice period of one month. If the deadline is missed, the contracts will only be extended by one month until they are terminated.
Anyone who buys a product that later turns out to be defective will be better protected starting in January. Henceforth the legal presumption that a defect existed at the time of purchase will be extended from six months to one year.
Smoking becomes more expensive
On 1 January, the tobacco tax will go up for the first time in seven years. It will rise by an average of 10 cents for a pack of 20 cigarettes. In 2023, another 10 cents will be added per 20-pack.
Billboard advertising for conventional tobacco products such as cigarettes will be banned from 1 January.
Femi Awoniyi/© AfricanCourierMedia