It is still possible to apply for Baukindergeld (government grant scheme to support families building or buying homes) until the end of March 2021/Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

Germany: New Laws and Regulations in March 2021

Like at the beginning of every month, new legal changes enter into effect in March 2021.These affect, for example, energy labels for refrigerators, televisions or washing machines. Also, summer time starts soon and parents urgently need to pay attention to the deadline for applying for Baukindergeld. Moreover, the lockdown regulations will be relaxed. Here’s an overview of the important legal changes:

Corona lockdown expires, hairdressers open – electronic sick leave expires

What will happen next with the Corona Lockdown? On 3 March, the Premiers of the Federal States will meet again with Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Federal Government-Länder Conference – at least it is certain that the lockdown will continue until 7 March. What comes after that has not yet been decided. One thing is already certain: from 1 March, hairdressers will be allowed to reopen under strict hygiene conditions.

The current corona lockdown measures in Germany run until 7 March. Although it is yet unclear if the federal and state governments will extend them again, there is however some relaxation of the measures. For example, hairdressers and barber’s shops will be allowed to reopen on Monday, 1 March/Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

Individual federal states are also opening up. In Bavaria, for example, openings are planned for flower shops, garden markets and nurseries.

On 31 March, the option of telephone sick leave for workers with a mild respiratory illness will end. Whether it will be extended is unclear for the time being. The regulation had been introduced on 19 October 2020 to provide patients with an alternative to visiting the doctor’s office during the corona pandemic.

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Summer time changeover

Daylight saving time begins on Sunday, 28 March. At two o’clock in the morning, the clocks will be set forward one hour. So after 1.59 a.m. it will be 3.00 a.m. The clocks will be set back to Central European Time or winter time on 31 October at 3.00 am.

The regulation that daylight saving time lasts from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October has existed in Germany since 1981.

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More security for credit card payments on the internet

From 15 March, payment for purchases on the internet will be regulated uniformly according to an EU directive.

The following will then apply to all transactions: When paying online by credit card, it will no longer be sufficient to simply enter the data on the credit card; a so-called two-factor authentication will become mandatory. In addition to the credit card data, the entry of a TAN number will also be required.

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New energy efficiency classes for electrical appliances

From 1 March, the old EU energy efficiency labels for electrical appliances will disappear and be replaced by new ones. As before, the energy efficiency labels are intended to indicate how economical household appliances are.

With energy efficiency classes and information on product characteristics such as volume, electricity or water consumption, different appliances can be easily compared. Efficient appliances can save you several hundred euros per year in utility bills.

The new and old energy efficiency classifications/Photo: © BMWi

 

Classifications such as “A++” or “A+++” will be replaced by more comprehensible classifications for dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators and freezers, televisions and monitors. For example, the “A++” category becomes the “B” category.

The basic principle remains unchanged: there will continue to be a colour scale from dark green (very good) to red (very poor), which enables quick orientation as to how energy-efficient a product is.

The changeover will start in March 2021 with the following product groups: refrigerators and freezers, dishwashers, washing machines, including washer-dryers, and electronic displays, including television sets.  The new energy efficiency labelling will be introduced for lighting products from September 2021. Other product groups will be adapted gradually. By 2030, all product groups should have been converted to the new EU energy labelling.

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Apply for Baukindergeld until the end of March

It is still possible to apply for Baukindergeld (government grant scheme to support families building or buying homes) until the end of March 2021. The application period was extended because the coronavirus pandemic by three months, as it should have expired at the end of 2020. For each child who is not yet 18 years old at the time of applying for grant, families can apply for 12,000 euros in child building benefit.

The Baukindergeld is a grant offered by the Federal Government through the national development bank, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), to support families looking to buy or build their first home which can be an apartment or a standalone or semi-detached house. The grant is intended to make it easier for families with children and single parents to finance their own house or apartment. You will receive 12,000 euros per child, paid in 10 annual instalments of 1,200 euros each. Families or single parents with at least one child under the age of 18 who lives in the applicant’s household are eligible to apply.

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New rules for Google search

Google is optimising its search engine for mobile websites. From the end of March, companies whose websites are not optimised for mobile use can therefore no longer be found. Google has been pursuing the strategy of giving preference to pages optimised for smartphone displays for a few years now. Companies with outdated websites should urgently redesign them. Otherwise, they will no longer be found in search results in a few weeks.

Femi Awoniyi

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