Parents in Germany to get up to 20 weeks pay to cover costs of caring for kids

The German government plans to compensate parents with up to 20 weeks in wages for loss of work while looking after children during the corona crisis lockdown.

Cohabiting parents will be eligible to apply for ten weeks of a so-called “secondary salary payment” while single parents will be able to receive the payment for 20 weeks, Health Minister Jens Spahn told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung on Tuesday.

In layman's terms the “secondary salary payment” is a state payment of 67 percent of post-tax salary to parents who have been unable to work because they have been looking after young children. The payment has an upper limit of €2,016 per month.

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The measure is set to be passed by cabinet on Wednesday.

The announcement comes after Spahn, of Angela Merkel's conservative CDU party, faced heavy pressure from his centre-left coalition partners in the SPD to do more to help families ride out the crisis.

As schools and kindergartens are likely to not fully open for weeks – and in some states months – the payment is seen as a measure for securing the livelihoods of young families in the foreseeable future.

“This gives people necessary security in uncertain times,” Spahn said. “Working parents currently bear a heavy burden. As long as kindergartens and schools are not reliably reopened to all, many will need our support.”

Meanwhile, politicians in opposition parties are making the case that he best way to help parents is a swifter re-opening of schools.

“When four medical associations call for the complete opening of day-care centres and schools, politicians must react as quickly as possible,” Christian Lindner, leader of the business-friendly FDP, told DPA.

Lindner was referring to a joint statement made by several medical associations which called for the immediate opening of kindergartens and schools.

“In the opinion of the professional associations, children are not strong drivers of the pandemic. We must draw the right conclusions from this,” Lindner argued.

Some in the government have cautiously backed a swifter resumption of normal school service.

“If it really turns out that children have a lower rate of infection and contagion, we can discuss the return to full regular operation differently,” Families Minister Franziska Giffey told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. However, she added that there were still “no definite findings” on the issue.

Schools and daycare centres throughout Germany were closed due to the corona pandemic throughout much of March and April.

Since the end of April, schools have slowly begun to reopen. Pupils are being taught alternately at school and at home and are divided into smaller groups in order to observe the rules on social distancing.

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