The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin / Photo: Femi Awoniyi

Germany: New laws and other changes in 2023

2023 brings new laws and regulations for people living in Germany. For example, price brakes are to reduce energy costs, health insurance will become more expensive and the 49-euro ticket will be launched. These and other changes at a glance.

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Price brakes for electricity, gas and district heating
From 1 March – retroactive to 1 January – the Federal Government’s energy price brakes will apply. This is the state’s response to the energy price shock and the exploding inflation which have made life difficult for many. The government subsequently feverishly devised, rejected and reconsidered heating cost assistance and other relief packages.

Consumers will then receive 80 percent of their previous year’s consumption at a capped price. For electricity, this means 40 cents per kilowatt hour. For gas it is 12 cents and district heating customers pay a maximum of 9.5 cents. Those who consume more than the capped amount will pay the full price of their supplier. Relief is provided through the energy supplier’s bill or the landlord’s utility bill. The price brakes are to remain in place until the end of April 2024.

Launch of the 49-Euro-Ticket
The 49-Euro-Ticket, also called Deutschlandticket, is to be launched in the spring of 2023, with a target date of 1 April. As with the 9-Euro-Ticket in the summer, the 49-Euro-Ticket is to be valid throughout Germany on all buses and trains of local public transport. It will be available in the form of a monthly subscription that can be cancelled. The 49 euros is an “introductory price” that could rise in 2024.

Yellow slip for sick leave abolished
The certificate of incapacity for work on yellow paper, the famous “yellow slip”, is being abolished. From 1 January 2023, employers must electronically retrieve the data from the health insurance funds (Krankenkassen) when their employees are on sick leave. Doctors’ practices in turn will transmit the sick note there, and the insured person does not have to do that either. However, employees who are ill must notify their employer of their absence immediately. A paper slip can still be obtained from the doctor’s – but only for one’s own records.

Health insurance funds increase additional contributions
Many health insurance funds (Krankenkassen) will increase the additional contribution in 2023. On average, there will be an increase of 0.2 percentage points to 1.5 percent. Consumers beware: Until the middle of 2023, the health insurance funds do not have to inform insured persons personally about contribution increases; a notice on the website is sufficient.
In the event of an increase, insured persons have a special right of termination until the end of the month in which the premium is increased. Those who have already been with their old insurance fund for at least 12 months can change at any time. A notice period of two months applies.

Unemployment insurance will become more expensive
From 1 January 2023, employees will have to pay a little more into unemployment insurance fund. The contribution rate will rise slightly from 2.4 to 2.6 per cent, with half of it borne by the employer.

Reusable packaging for delivery meals and meals to go
From 1 January 2023, restaurants are to offer food and drinks to go not only in disposable but also in reusable packaging, whereby the reusable variant may not be more expensive. However, a deposit may be charged.
The regulation is also to apply to the delivery of food. Small snack bars and kiosks with five or fewer employees are exempted, but these must fill containers brought in by customers if they so wish. The reusability obligation applies to plastic – this also includes the coated coffee-to-go cup, but not the pizza box.

Reduction in subsidies for the purchase of electric car
The state subsidies for the purchase of an electric car are decreasing. As of 1 January 2023, pure e-cars with a net list price of up to 40,000 euros will only receive an environmental bonus of 4500 euros (previously it was 6000 euros) and e-cars with a net list price of between 40,000 and 65,000 euros will only receive 3000 euros (previously 5000 euros). More expensive vehicles will continue to receive no subsidy.
As from 1 September the subsidy will also be limited to private individuals. Plug-in hybrid vehicles will no longer receive any funding from 1 January 2023. As before, the environmental bonus can only be applied for after the vehicle has been registered.

Femi Awoniyi/© AfricanCourierMedia

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