Status: 03/18/2020 10:00 p.m..
The government promises: it has recognized the seriousness of the situation – and it wants to act. Rapid aid is intended to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic for jobs and income.
By Kai Küstner, ARD capital studio.
There are two signals that the federal government is trying to send out in view of the corona crisis. The first: We recognized the seriousness of the situation. The current situation is not comparable to the 2008 financial crisis, emphasized Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil after a top meeting with employers and trade unions. “The challenge is bigger now.”
The announcement of the second important message was reserved for Economics Minister Peter Altmaier. It reads: We in Berlin don’t just talk. “It is currently not the time for endless discussions”, said Altmaier, “but it is the time for decisive and quick action”.
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The federal government and trade unions are discussing immediate financial measures.
Income support for parents.
What does that mean in concrete terms? The federal government wants to help all those who look after their children at home while daycare centers and schools are closed. Because the employer only continues to pay the full wages for a while.
It is about giving the parents in Germany a signal that they do not have to expect disproportionate loss of wages, said Heil. “Because schools and daycare centers are now scheduled to close until the end of the Easter break, we will take legislative measures so that employers can continue to pay wages.”
The minister’s plan provides that employers can get back a “very large part” of continued wages from the state. Before the end of this week, Minister Heil announced that appropriate legislative initiatives would be discussed in the cabinet.
Access to short-time work allowance made easier.
Part of the aid package for companies and employees is to make it easier for companies to pay out short-time work benefits in the future. As far as the application is concerned, the telephones at the local offices of the Federal Employment Agency apparently hardly stand still.
Ingo Kramer, President of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations, praised the rules that have already been adopted as an essential contribution to protecting employees from dismissals.
“In a phase of short-time work, the income breaks down. I can tell you from my own bitter experience: The equity is melting like snow in the sun. This is a very important solution to keep the company liquid and at the same time to keep the employees in the company hold.”
Government wants to close wage gaps.
In the case of short-time work, the Federal Employment Agency pays 60 percent of the lost net wage, for employees with children it is 67 percent. However, depending on how little or how much the employer increases, there are gaps.
Joint solutions will be found for this, said the head of the German Federation of Trade Unions, Reiner Hoffmann. “It is clear that the employees should not get into a social imbalance.”
How exactly the increase for affected short-time work can look like has not yet been finally clarified. But the signal from trade unions and employers’ associations is clear: In these extraordinary times, Germany cannot afford not to find solutions quickly.