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Everything that changes in Germany in July 2020

From higher wages to lower taxes, there's a lot changing in Germany as of Wednesday - and not all of it coronavirus related.

Everything that changes in Germany in July 2020
Clocks in Düsseldorf's Volkspark. Photo: DPA

More summer travel options

The worldwide travel warning is being lifted for all EU member states as of Wednesday, although a travel warning remains in place for 130 countries until at least August 31st. 

That excludes, however, a few popular holiday destinations such as Egypt or the Maldives. 

On Wednesday, travellers from 15 countries – including Australia and Canada – will also be allowed to travel to Germany and the EU again after being put on a “safe list.”

READ ALSO: EU agrees to reopen borders to 15 countries but excludes US from safe travel list

Tenant protection ending

As of July 1st, the temporary special protection against termination of tenancy for tenants (Kündigungsschutz) due to the corona crisis will no longer be valid. 

Berlin graffiti calling for rents to come down. Photo: DPA

For the period from April 1st to June 30th, tenants and leaseholders could not be kicked out for failing to pay rent due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the rent is still due for this period, and interest on arrears may also be incurred. 

However, a dispute has flared up within the grand coalition over the continuation of the Corona protection against dismissal. The left-leaning Social Democrats (SPD) are demanding an extension, whereas Merkel’s centre right CDU and its Bavarian sister party CSU are against it.

Protests also flared up around the country in response on Wednesday. 

More value for your euro

As part of an economic rescue package Germany launched, the government is lowering the VAT (value added tax) for half a year from 19 to 16 percent. For everyday items such as groceries, it’s sinking from 7 to 5 percent. 

Here’s a look at how much you can look to save on products in furniture stores, the supermarket or when buying a new car.

READ ALSO: What you should know about Germany's VAT cut

Pensions going up

The approximately 21 million pensioners in Germany will receive noticeably more money starting on July 1st. Due to the annual pension adjustment, pensions will rise by 3.45 percent in western Germany and by 4.20 percent in eastern Germany.

The pensions in the east are thus gradually creeping up to the levels in the west. However, not all pensioners will receive the pension increase on the same date.

Coronavirus cases in pets must also be registered

Current knowledge tells us that it’s rare for certain pets and zoo animals to be infected with coronavirus. But that hasn’t stopped some isolated incidents from being reported around the world.

In order to be able to research the potential connection more thoroughly, there will soon be an obligation to report cases of the virus in animals in Germany.

According to Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner of Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU), a regulation on this could be passed in the Bundesrat on July 3rd. 

However, the owners of the approximately 31 million pets in Germany will not be obliged to have their dogs or cats tested. There is no evidence so far that people become infected with the virus from their pets.

Higher wages for nurses and care workers

To better recognise hospital staff for the tremendous effort they have put in over the last months, Germany will be raising the minimum wage for nurses and care workers to €15 an hour. By 2022, that amount is slated to increase to €15.40 per hour.

In addition to Germany’s legal minimum holiday requirement of 20 days per year, care workers are also slated to receive an additional five days of holiday this year, and six days in the coming year. 

More corona testing at slaughterhouses

Following the incidents at Tönnies slaughterhouse, the meat industry in North Rhine-Westphalia will in future have to have employees tested for the coronavirus at least twice a week at their own expense.

The entrance to Tönnies in Gütersloh, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA

The new requirement will apply to slaughterhouses, cutting plants and meat-processing companies with more than 100 employees as of July 1st, according to the State Ministry of Labor and Health in Düsseldorf.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about German meat plant outbreak

Germany takes over EU presidency

From Wednesday until the last day of the year, Germany is officially taking over the EU presidency. Of course, one of the main areas of work is already becoming apparent: the coronavirus crisis. 

Germany's Federal Cabinet has prepared a programme for this under the motto “Together. Making Europe strong again”. 

To put words into action, the German government has already submitted a proposal for a massive €750 billion aid package, of which €500 billion are to flow to the EU states as grants and the rest as loans.

Other big areas of focus will be resuming negotiations about Brexit, as the UK will officially leave the EU at the end of the year, climate chains and international affairs, particularly with China. 

READ ALSO: Merkel's legacy at stake as Germany takes EU reins

 

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WHAT CHANGES IN GERMANY

Everything that changes in Germany in August 2022

From the €9 ticket and fuel tax cut, to travel chaos, tax deadlines and digital steps forward, here's what's changing in Germany this August.

Everything that changes in Germany in August 2022

€9 ticket and fuel tax cut runs out

Germany’s €9 monthly public transport ticket offer continues until the end of August so people will be able to buy and use it for the month before it it’s gone when September starts (sadly).

The fuel tax cut is also in force until the end of August. For petrol, the government-subsidised “tank rebate” is about 30 cents per litre, for diesel about 14 cents per litre. The reduction is limited until August 31st.

No plans have been announced yet to extend these measures. 

Travel chaos continues in Europe

The summer months have been chaotic for travellers, and we have seen examples of airports congested throughout Europe. This will continue during August, as airlines have cancelled more than 25,000 flights from their August schedule. 

In Germany, around 6,000 flights operated by Lufthansa alone have been scrapped from the summer schedule.

More strikes?

German airline giant Lufthansa ground staff staged a one-day strike on Wednesday July 27th. Negotiations between Verdi union and Lufthansa will happen on August 3rd and 4th.

It may be that more strikes are announced if an agreement on pay for the 20,000 ground staff isn’t reached. Keep an eye on The Local’s homepage. 

READ ALSO: Flights disrupted across Germany as Lufthansa strike begins

Travellers queue at terminal 2 of Frankfurt airport on July 23rd.

Travellers queue at terminal 2 of Frankfurt airport on July 23rd. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

August regional holiday

There is only one official holiday in Germany in August – Assumption Day – or Mariä Himmelfahrt – on August 15th. It is a regional holiday for the states of Bavaria and Saarland.

It falls on a Monday, so don’t forget to prepare yourself for it, as most shops and supermarkets will be closed on the holiday and Sunday as well (as they always are in Germany).

Tax deadline

Those who have their tax return for 2020 prepared by a tax advisor or an income tax assistance association still have until August 31st to hand it in.

The deadline was extended again in May to relieve tax advisors who have extra work in their plate with auditing Covid financial assistance during the pandemic period.

READ ALSO: Why people in Germany have longer for their tax returns this year

More transparency in employment contracts

Whether it’s the scope of work, length of probationary period, possible overtime or notice period, employment contracts issued from August 1st onwards must clearly state in writing the working conditions for new jobs.

It must also be documented what wages will be paid, how they will be made up, what further training has been promised, what the shift system and rest breaks will be like, and what applies to the remuneration of overtime, allowances and bonuses.

Information on contracting parties, remuneration and working hours must be provided in writing to new employees no later than the start of employment – all other supporting documents can be given within seven calendar days.

More assistance for students

From August 1st, there will be more BAföG financial assistance for students. The maximum support rate for students will be raised from €861 to €934 per month. The tax-free amount on the parents’ income, which is the basis for calculating the education grant, will also go up. This also increases the group of those eligible for support.

The previous tax-free allowance of €8,200 for the assets of trainees will also be increased – to €15,000 for people up to the age of 29, and to €45,000 from the age of 30. Furthermore, the age limit for BAföG funding will be extended from 30 to 45.

READ ALSO: German students to get higher grants from winter 2022

View of the Martin Luther University (MLU) campus in Halle.

View of the Martin Luther University (MLU) campus in Halle. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hendrik Schmidt

Minimum wage goes up

For stonemasons and people in the stone-sculpting trade, new industry minimum wages will apply from August 1st 2022; instead of €12.85 per hour, employees will get 50 cents more, raising it to €13.35. Independently of this, there is also the German statutory minimum wage, which will increase to €12 in October.

Digital step for founding companies

From August 1st, anyone who wants to establish a GmbH (a company with limited liability) or KG (limited partnership) can do so without having to attend the notarial certification in person – they can also do it via online video communication.

This is regulated by the Act on the Implementation of the Digitalisation Directive (DiRUG). “The parties involved are identified by means of an electronically transmitted photograph in conjunction with an electronic proof of identity, e.g. the German identity card with eID function,” explains the Hanover Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

Pupils return to the classroom – or go on holiday

Schools in several states will return after the summer break in August. But the southern states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria are the last to go off on their school holidays – at the end of July and on August 1st respectively.

Cheaper medicines in the pharmacy

Patients who are prescribed biopharmaceuticals (or biologics) by their doctor, which are often used for Crohn’s disease, arthritis or cancer, can be given cheaper medicines of the same type at the pharmacy from August 16th. This is regulated by the “Law for More Safety in the Supply of Medicines”.

The biosimilars, i.e. similar biological medicines, are to come into circulation more quickly, and drug costs are to be reduced. The law is intended to relieve the burden on health insurance companies. The imitation products are produced and tested by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) under strict criteria as soon as the patent for a drug expires, and are considered to be just as effective as the respective original.

General measles vaccination mandate in care facilities applies

Since March 2020, measles vaccinations have been compulsory in communal facilities such as Kindergartens, asylum seekers’ and refugees’ accommodation and in medical facilities – for caregivers and other employees in the facilities.

Those who already worked in one of the above-mentioned facilities before March 2020 were granted a transitional period until July 31st 2022 to present proof of vaccination.

People who do not comply with the vaccination obligation will be banned from care or work from August 1st, and could also face fines of up to €2,500 if they flout the rules. People who cannot get the vaccination for medical reasons and those born before 1971 are exempt from the measles jab mandate.

A vaccination pass with the measles box ticked.

A vaccination pass with the measles box ticked. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Tom Weller

Titanium dioxide banned in food

Titanium dioxide is used as a whitening agent in wall paints, varnishes, cosmetics and medicines. But foodstuffs such as chewing gum, sweets, baked goods, soups and salad dressings also often rely on it, especially in the USA. It’s found on the packaging as the additive E171.

As of August, however, titanium dioxide can no longer be used in food production in Europe. The European Commission imposed the ban because it could not be ruled out that the chemical substances could alter “genetic cell material” and that the food additive could therefore no longer be considered safe. In France, titanium dioxide hasn’t been used in food since 2020.

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