There are several laws affecting young people in the areas of employment and training that will enter into effect in April/Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

Germany: New Laws and Regulations from April 2024

In April 2024, a number of new regulations and laws will come into force that will have an impact on various areas of life in Germany. What new laws are coming into force? What will change for you in your everyday life? We have summarised the important changes for you here.

Normal VAT for gas and district heating
To mitigate the increased energy prices following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the German government temporarily reduced VAT on gas and district heating to 7 per cent in October 2022.
From April 2024, VAT will rise again to the normal 19 per cent. The electricity and gas price brake (Strom- und Gaspreisbremse) has already been removed on 1 January this year. For you, this means having to dig deeper into your pockets again or, alternatively, paying closer attention to your heating consumption.

Income limit for parental allowance lowered
The income threshold for entitlement to parental allowance (Elterngeld) will be lowered. Previously, the limit for entitlement was 300,000 euros taxable income. If your child is born after 1 April 2024, the income limit will fall to 200,000 euros. This limit also applies to single parents.
From April 2025, the income limit for couples and single parents is to be lowered further to 175,000 euros.

Shorter joint parental leave
There are also new regulations for parental leave (Elternzeit). For births from 1 April 2024, joint parental leave for both parents will be reduced. Whereas they were previously able to stay at home together for two months, in future they will only be able to receive parental allowance for one month at a time. The rest must be taken separately.
In addition, parents may only take this joint time within the first twelve months of their child’s life. However, they can still increase their parental leave from twelve to 14 months.

Discounted Deutschlandticket for students
While the normal price of the Deutschlandticket is 49.90 euros, students will pay a reduced price from the start of the 2024 summer semester. Students can use buses and trains throughout Germany for just 29.40 euros. The best way to find out whether the cheaper Deutschlandticket is also available in your city of study is to contact the student affairs office.

Minimum wage increase for painters and security personnel
Are you a journeyman or journeywoman painter? Then you can look forward to a minimum wage increase from April. Henceforth, you will receive at least 15 euros per hour. Unskilled workers in this field will be entitled to a minimum gross wage of 13 euros per hour.
Companies must also pay security staff at airports in Bavaria (except Munich Airport), Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia who have passed the official examination for aviation security screeners more. From April, a minimum wage of 18.32 euros will apply to them. All other employed security staff must earn at least 16.95 euros from April.

Qualification allowance for further training
The Federal Employment Agency (BA) will introduce the so-called qualification allowance (Qualifizierungsgeld) on 1 April. It is modelled on the short-time working allowance (Kurzarbeitergeld) and, like it, is intended to prevent unemployment.
The focus is on companies that are suffering from structural changes and are about to lay off employees. They can have such employees trained at the expense of the employment agency in order to keep them in a future-proof position in the company.
In these cases, the BA will pay up to 67 per cent of the net wage during further training. Employers are supposed to cover the costs of the programme and can top up the employee’s salary.

Mobility allowance for trainees
Trainees whose workplace is a long way from home can receive a mobility allowance (Mobilitätszuschuss für Azubis) from 1 April 2024. The state will pay for two journeys home per month in the first year of training.

Vocational orientation internship
From 1 April 2024, the state will support vocational orientation internships (Berufsorientierungspraktikum). It will cover travel and accommodation costs for short internships, including supra-regional internships.

Amazon shortens return period
From 25 April, Amazon will only allow the return of many products within 14 days of delivery. Previously it was 30 days. This affects products such as cameras, electronic items, office supplies, computers, video games, music and videos/DVDs. Amazon devices and Amazon renewed products are excluded from the new regulation.
Between 25 March and 25 April there will be a transitional phase during which a 30-day return can still be requested.

Cannabis becomes partially legal
The Cannabis Act comes into force on 1 April 2024. This will partially legalise the controlled cultivation and consumption of cannabis. The following will be permitted from 1 April:

  • People aged 18 and over will be allowed to possess up to 25 grams of weed for their own use.
  • Up to three cannabis plants are permitted in one’s own home and up to 50 grams for personal consumption.
  • Smoking weed in public is to be prohibited if, among other things, schools or sports grounds are within sight.
  • From July, “cannabis clubs” are to be permitted where weed can be grown and bought in limited quantities.

Femi Awoniyi

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