The numerous Coronavirus infections and state-imposed quarantine measures are not only leaving their mark on the capital markets and economic forecasts. Due to delivery disruptions, missing customers and canceled orders, the workforce of numerous companies is no longer being sufficiently utilized. In order to avoid endangering the company, a reduction in personnel will probably be necessary in many cases.
To counteract this, the coalition committee of the governing coalition at the federal level already passed a resolution on 8 March 2020, among other things, to reduce the conditions for claiming short-time working compensation.
The Bundestag and Bundesrat had already passed a corresponding ordinance on 13 March 2020. This allows the Federal Government to make the following modifications to the requirements through an ordinance without the approval of the Bundesrat, limited until the end of 2021:
- The quorum above which a loss of earnings is considered to be substantial may be reduced to up to 10% of the employees employed in the company who are affected by a loss of earnings of more than 10% of their monthly gross salary. Currently, at least one-third of the workforce must be affected.
- At present, a loss of working hours is considered avoidable, so that there is no entitlement to short-time compensation if it can be avoided in whole or in part by taking advantage of fluctuations in working hours permitted in the company. However, the build-up of negative working time balances should be avoided in whole or in part.
- Full or partial reimbursement of employer's social insurance contributions for employees receiving short-time work compensation can be introduced.
The Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs points out on its homepage that these relief measures are to take effect retroactively as of 1 March 2020 and that short-time work compensation is to be paid out retroactively accordingly. Therefore, companies could already now apply for short-time work according to the modified requirements.