Lawyer about 3,000 euros flat rate: inflation premium must not be disguised as a Christmas bonus
Created: 09/30/2022, 04:54
By: Max Mueller
The idea of the “inflation compensation premium”: Employers pay their employees a one-time payment of up to 3,000 euros – voluntarily.
A labor lawyer explains the background.
Cologne – The average salary in Germany depends on which statistics you consult.
The values vary between 2800 and 4000 euros gross - depending on whether you are a young professional or a boss, man or woman, full-time or part-time.
One thing is clear: Looking at the account and seeing a 3000 euro transfer should feel like a 13th (or even 14th) month's salary for almost everyone.
This should be made possible by the "inflation compensation premium", which according to the Federal Ministry of Finance should apply until 2024.
The project is part of the federal government's third relief package, which was approved at the beginning of September.
In view of skyrocketing prices for energy and food, employees should be financially relieved.
Employers can transfer the money, but the state does not levy taxes.
This Wednesday (September 28th) the federal and state governments are advising.
The inflation premium could also be paid in cash without any problems – taxes are not due anyway.
But the devil is in the details.
Sticking point one: Paying the inflation premium is voluntary for the employer.
Sticking point two: He does not have to exhaust the full 3000 euros.
Sticking point three: Various employers have already pointed out that in times of economic crisis not every employee can count on a special payment.
Expert on the EUR 3,000 flat rate: "The principle of equal treatment applies"
Whenever such labor law questions arise, Michael Fuhlrott knows the answers.
He is a specialist lawyer for employment law.
The basic assessment of the expert should sober many employees.
"There is no right, no entitlement for employees to be paid an inflation premium by their employer," he says to the Frankfurter Rundschau of IPPEN.MEDIA.
Michael Fuhlrott is a professor of labor law at the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg.
With the project, the federal government is only creating the legal possibility for employees to receive a tax-free payment of up to 3,000 euros.
At least that is the good news for all those whose employer will pay the premium: gross equal to net - as with the Corona premium, when employers were allowed to pay out 1,500 euros to their employees tax-free and social security-free until the end of March.
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Still, there is hope for all workers.
Because Fuhlrott points out that despite the voluntary nature, some rules apply.
For example, there is the legal principle of equal treatment.
It states that equals must be treated equally unless there is a reason to justify a difference.
In other words: "If I pay employees in production an inflation premium of 1000 euros, I cannot exclude individual employees who I do not like," explains Fuhlrott.
Relief package: inflation premium disputed by trade unions and employers
However, as in almost all legal issues, there are exceptions.
However, they must be well justified.
"A company could decide, for example, to only pay an inflation premium to employees with an income below a certain limit and to exclude higher earners from it," says Fuhlrott.
In practice, however, the expert fears the opposite.
In particular, low-income employees who need the money particularly urgently could go away empty-handed.
Then something else would be decisive.
Namely, the question of whether an employee is employed under a collective agreement.
If that is the case, "the unions will certainly push for payment of the inflation premium in collective bargaining with employers and include this in collective bargaining regulations." If that happens, there is even a claim to the inflation premium for all other employees who are employed under the collective agreement.
In many areas of the low-wage sector, however, collective agreements are not very pronounced.
He speaks from the soul of trade unionists.
There is a fear that it will not primarily be those workers who need it most that will be relieved.
So that everyone really benefits, IG Metall boss Jörg Hofmann demanded that the inflation compensation premium not be based on a voluntary basis, but must be paid obligatorily.
Inflation premium may not be paid as a Christmas bonus
The causa is assessed quite differently by employers.
Its President, Rainer Dulger, dampens expectations: "Many companies would certainly allow their employees a one-off payment, no matter what the amount," he told the
editorial network Germany
"But they can't because the massive increase in energy costs is taking their breath away."
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It is currently unclear when the inflation premium will come.
Some federal states have already announced that they will not agree to the relief package.
But even if it still takes weeks to reach an agreement, the inflation compensation premium must not be re-declared as a Christmas bonus, says expert Fuhlrott.
Because: “The premium may only be paid 'in addition' to the salary owed.
So if I am contractually entitled to a Christmas bonus, the employer is not allowed to pay me an inflation premium instead.” In addition, it is forbidden to transfer part of the salary as a premium, as this would avoid social security expenses and taxes.