From sick notes to taxes: Germany votes to digitalize its paper trail

From sick notes to taxes: Germany votes to digitalize its paper trail
You no longer need to worry about pronouncing Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung. Photo: DPA
On Thursday evening, the Bundestag passed several pieces of legislation to ease the infamous German bureaucracy.

The Bundestag (German Parliament) has decided that yellow sick notes should be discontinued. Paper sick notes are going to be replaced by a digital certificate, which will be sent directly to the employer.

READ MORE: How Germany plans to ditch paper sick notes for digital ones

This earmarks several pieces of legislation passed in Parliament on Thursday evening in order to reduce bureaucracy. However, the approval of the Bundesrat (Federal Assembly) is also required. 

Anyone who has ever received a sick note from the doctor up until now would end up receiving several. One had to be sent to their employer, one to their health insurance, and one for their personal files. 

READ MORE: The 10 rules you need to know if you get sick in Germany

Jens Spahn (CDU), the Minister of Health, has already drove forth a new regulation, which will allow “incapacity to work certificates” to be transmitted digitally from treating physicians directly to health insurance companies from 2021 onward.

According to the new law, which has now passed, the next steps will involve the health insurance fund informing the employer electronically about the beginning and duration of their employee’s sick leave.

Which other sectors does the new law affect?

If the Federal Assembly also gives the go-ahead, the new legislation will have an effect on hotel operations, as hotel guests will also no longer have to fill in paper registration forms. 

This eliminates the need for hotels, guesthouses and campsites to be constantly throwing out around 150 million registration forms every year. 

Furthermore, the amendment to the law makes it simpler to archive existing electronic tax documents.

Thanks to additional changes to reduce bureaucracy for businesses, in six years time company founders will be required to pay VAT quarterly, rather than monthly.

These numerous changes are intended to free up more than €1.1 billion annually in federal funding.

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