Franziska Giffey, Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. Several legal changes in May emanated from her ministry/Photo: Bundesministeriums für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend

Germany: New laws and regulations from May 2021

Like at the beginning of every month, new legal changes enter into effect in May 2021. Among these are a one-time supplement to the child benefit, more protection for minors online, increased wages for painters, new labelling rules for tyres and new terms and conditions for WhatsApp users. Femi Awoniyi reports

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150-euro extra child bonus

The disruptions of normal life by the coronavirus pandemic are not only a burden for working people. Families are also suffering. For this reason, families are to receive a child bonus.

In May, parents will receive a one-time child bonus of 150 euros on top of the child benefit for each child entitled to child benefit.

This will happen automatically; parents do not have to make any applications for it.

This corona child bonus will be available for 18 million children in Germany and is an item in the third Corona Tax Relief Act, whose measures are intended to provide financial relief to families and workers in the pandemic.

More safety for children on the internet

On 1 May, a new law for the protection of minors on the internet comes into force.

According to the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, the aim of the amendment is to align the legal protection of children and young people from harmful media with the digital media reality of today.

Social media companies and providers of internet services are now obliged to protect children and young people from bullying, sexual harassment or cost traps. Platforms that have more than one million users in Germany are to ensure this through default settings.

In future, computer games and films are to be designated with a reliable age rating again. According to the Federal Government, these measures “are intended to enable children and young people to participate carefree in digital media”.

Lesser harmful toys

As from 21 May, toys are to become less harmful to children’s health. The new toy directive regulates the limits of aluminium and formaldehyde in toys. The substances may then only be used in small quantities for processing and production of toys. The lower limits also apply to imported toys from the Far East.

More money for painters

A new collective agreement for workers in the painting and automotive varnishing trade enters into force on 1 May 2021. As a result, the nation-wide basic wage will increase by 2.1 per cent to 17.51 euros per hour in western Germany (excluding Berlin) and by 2.2 per cent to 16.88 euros per hour in eastern Germany (including Berlin).

The industry minimum wage will also rise. According to the new collective agreement, a skilled worker will receive 13.80 euros per hour and an unskilled worker 11.40 euros per hour.

More money for Apprentices

Apprentices can also look forward to an increase in pay. As from 1 May 2020, a trainee minimum wage will apply to all newly-concluded training contracts.

Apprentices will receive EUR 550 gross per month in their first year of apprenticeship.

New labelling for car tyres

Tyres are to be labelled more precisely from 1 May 2021 to make it easier for consumers to choose energy-saving models. The aim of the EU regulation is to promote less fuel consumption, which should ease the burden on the climate and also on the wallet.

Accordingly, the information on the tyres is to become more visible and more precise. Visually, the labelling should look like the common EU energy label, which uses a colour gradation from green to red.

New terms and conditions for WhatsApp

WhatsApp is updating its privacy policy, with new terms and conditions coming into effect on 15 May 2021. Users who do not agree to them by then will no longer be able to use the app to its full extent. For example, notifications and calls can be received, but the user cannot read or compose messages themself.

The aim of the new terms and conditions is to make the exchange of data between Facebook and WhatsApp easier. By agreeing to the terms and conditions, you give up both your privacy and data protection rights. This is because the data and information collected about you does not remain with WhatsApp.

However, according to a WhatsApp spokesperson, the new changes will not affect countries in the EU and Great Britain

Actually, WhatsApp’s new terms and conditions were supposed to have taken effect on 8 February. After heavy criticism, the messenger service backed down and granted its customers a postponement.

If you have not agreed by 15 May, you can no longer use the messenger app for the time being. So, it’s “agree” or say goodbye and switch to one of the other messengers like Signal or Telegram.

Commerzbank abolishes free current account

comdirect, a subsidiary of Commerzbank, is abolishing its unconditional free current account. The bank claims that the current account is still free, but only if it is actively used.

The conditions for free use are a monthly cash inflow of at least 700 euros or at least three payments via Apple Pay or Google Pay per month or at least one trade or savings plan execution per month. Otherwise, a fee of 4.90 euros per month will be charged.

According to comdirect, the new conditions will apply to all existing customers from 1 May 2021.

For students, interns and trainees under 28 years of age, however, the account is to remain free of charge without conditions.

Observers say there are fewer and fewer free current accounts in Germany. Whereas more than 70 current accounts were free a year ago, today there are only 30.

Femi Awoniyi

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