How to apply for ‘Kurzarbeit’ in Germany when your working hours are reduced

Germany's 'Kurzarbeit' scheme has been a lifeline to millions of people hit by reduced working hours due to the coronavirus pandemic. Here's how you can apply.

How to apply for 'Kurzarbeit' in Germany when your working hours are reduced
The official form for Kurzarbeit. Photo: DPA

Unemployment in Germany has risen significantly since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Sitting low at five percent before the crisis began, it has risen to an estimated 8.5 percent at present – and is expected to rise to as high as 13 percent should infections increase again. 

The main support scheme for affected workers is the government’s Kurzarbeit (shorter working hours) scheme, which has been a lifeline to millions of people in Germany hit hard by the crisis. 

As of mid-May, Germany had over 10 million employees on Kurzarbeit, surpassing numbers seen during the 2009 financial crisis. 

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

What is Kurzarbeit?

Through the Kurzarbeit scheme, the government pay a percentage of an unemployed person’s total wage. 

The measure tops up from government coffers the pay of workers placed on shorter hours by their employer, preserving the contractual relationship for the time when activity rebounds.

The government covers around two-thirds of the salaries of workers whose employers slash their hours after an agreement with the company's works council.

During the corona crisis, German ministers reduced the threshold for the proportion of workers who must be affected for a company to qualify to 10 percent, from one-third previously.

Companies must apply for the aid at their local branch of Germany's Federal Agency for Employment (Bundesagentur für Arbeit), which oversees the scheme.

BA payments also cover workers' social contributions, with the whole package lasting up to one year.

How can you apply for Kurzarbeit?

As with everything in Germany, there’s always a form. 

The Anzeige über Arbeitsausfall (Display of Lost Work) form needs to be filled out to apply for Kurzarbeit.

The official form is available here.

The following is an overview of how to work your way through the guide, and you can also find the form itself translated line by line into English here.

As always, it does not amount to legal advice. Please speak with a lawyer or financial adviser if you require more information. 

Section A: Company address

The first section asks you for the name and address of the company, as well as a contact person (Ansprechpartner) and their contact details. 

The third box asks for the address, details and name of the company’s payroll – if different to the above – while the final box requires the type of industry. 

Section B: How long will your work be affected? 

Section B (1) asks that you to give an indication as to how long your work will be affected – i.e. for how long you will be in need of the extra support.

There are two boxes with dates at the start and the end of the Kurzarbeit period, as well as whether work will be impact in the whole company (Gesamtbetrieb) or in one particular operating division. 

Section C: Working hours

Section C(2) asks for the weekly working hours (in normal times) for full-time workers, while Section C(3) asks for part-time workers. 

Section D: Information about the company 

D(4) has a box to tick as to whether the company has been around for more than one year. If not, fill out the establishment date. 

D(5) asks for the type of collective agreement (Tarifvertrag) which applies to the workers (Arbeiter) and employees (Angestellte), including the number of hours and whether the wage includes a Kurzarbiet agreement. 

You are advised to attach a copy of the collective agreement(s). 

D(6) asks if your company has a workers' union and if a Kurzarbeit system was already introduced according to labour law provisions (arbeitsrechtliger Bestimmung). 

D(7) asks for the number of employees in the department affected by short-term work, as well as the number of contract or temporary workers (Leiharbeiter).

D(8) wants to know the total number of employees at the company likely to be affected by short-term work, or who are losing more than 10 percent of their salary.

Section E: Justification/reasons for short term work

E(9) asks you to directly explain the reason why your working hours have been shortened.

E(10) is a simply yes or no, asking if industry or seasonal causes are responsible for the loss of hours.

After filling out the form, your employer must sign at the end under the agreement that everything written is correct and complete. A signature from the company's works' council is also requested, or you can alternatively attach a separate statement.

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Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now