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HEALTH

Workers and restaurants benefit from Germany’s new €10 billion coronavirus package

The German government unveiled a €10 billion economic package on Thursday to pay for additional unemployment benefits and new tax cuts to help businesses affected by the coronavirus.

Workers and restaurants benefit from Germany's new €10 billion coronavirus package
Markus Söder (CSU, l-r), state premiere of Bavaria, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, CDU chairwoman, Norbert Walter-Borjans, SPD chairman, and Saskia Esken, SPD chairwoman, speak before the Chancellery on

The measures come as Europe's largest economy takes it first steps back towards normality with a number of businesses opening up for the first time in a month, and politicians declaring the coronavirus “under control”.

Workers forced to stay at home by the pandemic and government measures to contain it will now receive between 70 and 77 percent of net salary from the fourth month of unemployment, a ten percent increase on previous provisions.

From the seventh month, they will receive between 80 and 87 percent.

READ ALSO: Kurzarbeit: Germany bets on tried-and-tested tool for coronavirus jobs crisis

Those already unemployed will see their benefits extended for a further three months this year.

The coalition government also announced that VAT on the gastronomy sector — which has been hard-hit by closures of restaurants and cafes — would be cut from 19 per cent to seven percent for one year from July 1st.

With many schools closed and expected to re-open gradually, the government also said it would provide financial support to families to purchase a computer for online lessons. Those in greatest need can receive up to €150.

READ ALSO: How freelancers and small businesses can apply for coronavirus payments in Germany

The new injection comes on top of a total programme of support for the German economy of some €1,100 billion, consisting mainly of public guarantees for business loans, but also grants for small businesses and freelancers.

The financial package agreed upon late Wednesday evening by the leaders of Germany's coalition government.

According to a resolution paper, the federal government must introduce further measures to cushion social and economic hardships and to support economic reconstruction as the country “relaxes restrictions in small steps.”

 

 

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HEALTH

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

Due to high Covid infection numbers throughout the summer, it’s now possible to get a sick note from a doctor over the phone again for some illnesses. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

What’s happened?

In spring 2020, German authorities changed the law so that people with a mild upper respiratory tract illness, such as the common cold, were able to get an incapacity to work certificate or AU-Bescheinigung by simply calling and speaking to their GP.

The rule was extended several times and finally reversed on June 1st this year due to falling infection figures. Since then people have had to go back to the practice – or do a video call if the doctor’s office has that system in place – to get a sick note.

Now, due to a decision by the Joint Federal Committee, the regulation has been reintroduced and patients can call their GP again for a sick note.

Can I get a sick note over the phone for any illness?

No. As before, the regulation only applies to patients suffering from a mild upper respiratory tract illness. Though Covid has not explicitly been named in the announcement, it seems that it is intended to be covered by the regulation.

If the doctor is convinced that the patient is unfit for work after a telephone consultation, then they can issue a sick note for up to seven days.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The changes around doctor’s notes in Germany you should know

If the symptoms persist after seven days, the certificate can be extended once more for another week.

Why now?

According to the Chairman of the G-BA, Josef Hecken, the regulation has been introduced now as a response to rising Covid numbers and in anticipation of the cold and flu season in the coming months: “We want to avoid full waiting rooms in doctors’ offices and the emergence of new infection chains,” he said.

The telephone sick leave rule is a simple, proven and uniform nationwide solution for that, he said. The rule is also necessary because video consultation hours are not yet available everywhere.

What else should I know?

The health insurer DAK is calling for telephone sick leave in the case of light respiratory diseases to be made possible on a permanent basis in Germany. DAK’s CEO Andreas Storm said that this should “not always be up for debate, because it has proven itself.” 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about making a doctor’s appointment in Germany

The social association VdK also welcomed the reintroduction of the rule. The VdK’s President Verena Bentele said that the regulation would help to protect high-risk groups in particular from potential infections.

What are the rules to know about sick notes in Germany?

Germany has a strict system in place. If you are sick, you need to give your employer a Krankmeldung (notification of sickness) before the start of work on the first day (of your illness).

However, you also need to hand in a Krankschreibung (doctor’s note) on the fourth day of your illness. Some employments contracts, however, require you to submit a sick not earlier than the fourth day so check with your boss or HR on that point. 

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