Main Train Station, Leipzig. At the beginning of the second half of the year, new laws, regulations and other changes that should make life easier for consumers in Germany enter into force/Photo: Femi Awoniyi

Germany: New laws, regulations in July 2022

At the beginning of the second half of the year, new laws, regulations and other changes that should make life easier for people living in Germany enter into force. Here are the changes in July to know about

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Minimum wage rises again in July
On 1 January 2022, the minimum wage in Germany increased from €9.60 to €9.82 and it is set to rise again on 1 July to €10.45. The wage will then rise to 12 euros on 1 October. These increases were laid out in a law which came into force in November 2021.

Significant pension increase
About 21 million pensioners in Germany can rejoice because pensions will increase from 1 July. In the West, senior citizens will receive 5.35 per cent more money and in the East 6.12 per cent. This is the biggest increase in decades.

Terminating contracts easier
It is to become easier to terminate a contract from 1 July 2022. The new rule is: anyone who concludes a contract online should also be able to terminate it online. Hence, there must be a mandatory cancellation button on the respective websites. Immediately after cancelling a contract online, customers should receive an electronic confirmation of the cancellation.

This is one of the latest regulations aimed at strengthening consumer rights. Since 1 March, there has also been a change in the notice period for contracts. After the minimum contract period, consumers can cancel their contract with a month’s notice and are not automatically bound for another year. However, this does not apply to insurance contracts.

Moreover, anyone who agrees on an energy supply contract over the phone will also have to confirm it again in writing. This is to prevent consumers from having contracts foisted on them by marketers over the phone.

Relief for families
In July, families will receive the child bonus as part of the relief package. For each child entitled to child benefit, there is a one-time bonus of 100 euros. Recipients of social assistance benefits, Hartz IV and asylum benefits are also to be relieved with two payments of 100 euros each and 20 euros per child. This is intended to help families absorb the additional burden of the prevailing inflation.

Free Covid-19 testing ends
After more than two years of the pandemic, the free coronavirus rapid tests for everybody (Bürgertests) ended on 29 June. Until then, you could test yourself for free at least once a week at a test centre. However, the government did not extend the free testing regulation. Hence, from now on, most people in Germany will have to pay a small fee for an antigen test. According to the federal health ministry, persons who belong to a so-called vulnerable group, such as women in the first trimester of pregnancy, will continue to have access to free testing. Others entitled to free tests include children up to the age of five as well as residents and visitors of nursing homes.

Handing in old electrical appliances in supermarkets
From 1 July, customers will be able to return old electrical appliances free of charge to supermarkets and discount stores. However, this only applies to smaller appliances with an edge length of no more than 25 centimetres, such as a hairdryer. However, consumers must choose their supermarket carefully. Only grocery shops that sell electrical goods permanently or at least several times a year and have a sales area of at least 800 square metres are obliged to accept the used appliances. This means that old mobile phones, electric razors, kettles and much more can be handed in free of charge at large supermarket chains such as Aldi, Rewe, Lidl and Co.

Exchanging old driving licences
Those born between 1953 and 1958 with a driving licence older than 23 years must exchange their licence latest by 19 July. Otherwise, they will receive a warning fine. Originally, this regulation was supposed to come into force in January, but due to the pandemic, the authorities extended the deadline until 19 July 2022. The exchange costs 25.50 euros. To apply for an EU driving licence, you must bring a valid identity card, your old driving licence and a biometric passport photo.

Femi Awoniyi

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