Minister of Labor Heil: Perspectives in uncertain times
Photo: Frederic Kern / Future Image / IMAGO
Many companies have only just cope with the recent coronavirus outbreak, and many of them are already facing new difficulties: In order to cushion the economic consequences of the rejection in the pandemic for employees, Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil has now extended the relaxed short-time working rules.
The relaxation of the rules for short-time work will now be continued for three more months until the end of March next year.
The cabinet approved a corresponding regulation by the SPD politician.
For companies, there are still relatively low hurdles for using short-time work.
Stricter corona measures are likely to hit the economy
The companies are also financially relieved because the Federal Employment Agency (BA) reimburses them for half of the social contributions for short-time workers.
Most recently, however, companies were reimbursed for their social security contributions in full.
"In this way, we are giving clear perspectives in these economically uncertain times and helping to ensure that the labor market gets through the winter well," said Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil. "It is important to me that we continue to stand by the employees and companies." In the corona crisis, millions of jobs were saved and important skilled workers secured with short-time working.
The reason for the extension of the short-time working rules is the sharp increase in the number of infections. It cannot be ruled out that tightened measures to contain the fourth wave of infections will again have significant effects on local retail, the hospitality industry and other sectors in the service sector, according to the draft regulation. In addition, there are ongoing problems due to the previous corona slump: fewer orders or problems with logistics and supply chains.
Because of the easing, it is sufficient to receive short-time work benefits if at least ten percent of employees are affected by lost work.
Without easier access, the threshold would be a third.
The access of temporary workers to short-time work will also be extended until the end of March 2022.
Until then, the extended period of drawdown of short-time allowance to 24 months also applies.
Hundreds of millions of euros of additional spending
Without an extension, the pandemic-related special regulations would have expired at the end of the year.
According to calculations by the government, the extension that is now planned is likely to cost the Federal Agency in particular dearly in 2022.
Accordingly, there is a risk of additional spending of around 400 million euros.
According to current calculations, the BA deficit expected for 2022 will rise to just under 1.3 billion euros.
The BA has already paid out around 24 billion euros in short-time work benefits in 2020 and 2021.
The BA's reserves have almost been used up, and the federal government has already had to contribute a few billions.
However, the expansion of short-time work prevented an even greater increase in unemployment in the corona pandemic.
For 2022, the BA still expects 260,000 short-time workers on an annual average after around 1.7 million for 2021.
apr / Reuters