Coronavirus - Temporary Workers

An important update for temporary workers in Germany

Continuing from our series of articles around Kurzarbeitergeld in Germany, specifically relating to the supporting of employers and employees in these times of Coronavirus-related financial stress, we want to inform you of an important update to the laws regarding temporary workers.  

What has changed? 

As we explained in our Kurzarbeitergeld article, workers in Germany are entitled to have a percentage of their net wage supported by the Arbeitsagentur (starting from 60 or 67% of their net monthly wage, depending on child status) should they be employed directly by the company applying. These laws covered full- and part-time employees but, crucially, did not cover the rights of temporary workers, such as those who may be working for the same company, but are employed by a temporary workers agency (TWA or Zeitarbeitsunternehmen in German).  

The German government moved to resolve this issue by extending the application possibilities for Kurzarbeitergeld to include those being employed directly by TWAs. Therefore, the same rules regarding eligibility and entitlement for Kurzarbeitergeld apply to temporary workers. This rule change was applied retrospectively from March 1st, 2020, and runs until December 31st, 2021, ensuring a significant period of coverage for those in temporary work.  

Any differences I should know about? 

The German government has moved quickly and pragmatically to ensure as wide a spectrum of the workforce have access to financial support during these hard times. Accordingly, they have attempted to align the previously divergent processes, meaning the application for Kurzarbeitergeld for temporary workers is made in the same way as for non-temporary workers but done via the TWA the person works for. If you are working for a temporary agency and have had your hours reduced, get in contact directly with your TWA and ensure your rights are being observed.  

Conclusions 

This may seem like a relatively small change to laws regarding benefits during the ongoing Coronavirus issue, but we find it to be an important update, especially for those in the expat community. The number of people working for TWAs has been falling in the past few years but still accounts for around 2-3% of the working population. This percentage is higher in the foreign national community, with many expats being hired by TWA when they first arrive for their localization and language skills.  

Unfortunately, the same issues surrounding applications for Kurzarbeitergeld are also applicable for those applying whilst working for TWA’s, namely the possibility for fraudulent claims. It is important to be aware of what you are entitled to and how you go about getting it. This is also a difficult time for those who own a TWA, with many agencies struggling to deal with the myriad of problems involved in providing government-mandated support to those in their employ. 

Should you be working at a TWA and feel that your employer is not observing the rules, or you are an owner of a TWA who is struggling to understand their legal obligations and/or entitlements during the Coronavirus crisis, we at ZELLER & SEYFERT are willing and able to fight your corner. Our Employment Law Expert Atty. Dr. Christian Zeller has many years of experience in fighting for the rights of employees and would gladly welcome your contact for a free initial “Corona consultancy”. Feel free to contact us via email (mail@zellerseyfert.com) or telephone (+49 (0) 30-40 36 785-80).  

 

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