New laws and regulations in Germany from August 2017

A more favourable health insurance is now possible for many retirees who did not work for a period of time because they were raising their children and were insured through their spouses. Moreover, no more child marriages, stricter hygiene regulations, clearer energy labels etc.

Changed health insurance for retirees

A condition for an often more cost-effective compulsory insurance in the Health Insurance of Pensioners (Krankenversicherung der Rentner or KVdR) is that a “pre-insurance period” is fulfilled. Pensioners must meet the so-called 9/10 rule. This means that in the second half of their working life, the persons concerned were 90 per cent of the time compulsorily insured, voluntarily insured or family-insured in the Statutory Health Insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung or GKV). As from 1 August 2017, the prerequisites have been changed: A three-year period as a “pre-insurance period” for a KVdR compulsory insurance is recognized for each child. Time spent in child-raising is now calculated for the pre-insurance period for the health insurance of pensioners (KVdR).

New Energy label regulation

The new Energy Label Regulation (Energielabel-Verordnung), which was adopted at the EU level in the spring, has entered into force on 1 August 2017. The gradual conversion of the EU label with the “A +++” classes for energy consumption to an A to G-scale is to make it clear and easily comprehensible for consumers. Between now and the autumn of 2018 the regulations on energy labelling for washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers, TV and monitors as well as lighting would be revised. After the transition period, manufacturers would have to apply the A to G-scale on their products in retail stores from the end of 2019 /early 2020.

Recognition for more occupational diseases

The list of occupational diseases has been expanded. According to the Federal Government, five additional illnesses will be included in the list from 5 August 2017 – including focal dystonia (muscle cramps) common with instrument musicians, ovarian cancer due to asbestos or leukaemia due to gas butadiene in the rubber and artificial rubber industry. Moreover, throat cancer and urinary bladder cancer caused by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are now considered as occupational diseases for workers engaged in chimney sweeps and blast furnace.

Stricter hygiene regulations

Health risks caused by legionella bacteria should be reduced. A new regulation enters into force on 19 August 2017, which, according to the Federal Government, regulates the hygienically perfect operation of cooling or refrigeration plants and similar facilities. The bacteria might otherwise spread from these plants through water drops and cause lung infections. The new regulation was introduced as a result of the legionella outbreak in 2013, in which two people died and around 160 fell ill.

Prohibition of child marriages

Since the end of July, only adults could legally marry in Germany. The Act on the Prohibition of Child Marriages (Gesetz zum Verbot von Kinderehen) increases the age of maturity (Ehemündigkeit) to eighteen years. Until the new law went into effect, marriages could be legalised if one of the partners was at least 16 years old and the family courts gave their consent.

Sola Jolaoso

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