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Today in Germany: A round-up of what’s happening on Wednesday

Here's the latest on what's happening in Germany on Wednesday November 18th.

Today in Germany: A round-up of what's happening on Wednesday
A doctor giving a 'Videosprechstunde' appointment. Photo: DPA

German government pushes for more 'digital sick leave' opportunities

A new draft bill put forward by Health Minister Jens Spahn says employees in Germany should be given the opportunity to be put on sick leave via a video consultation call – even if they don't know the doctor.

According to the bill, first-time sick leave notes and renewal by digital means should be possible even if there is no personal contact between the patient and doctor.

“Particularly in the case of simple incidents of illness and in order to avoid infections via waiting rooms, it should also be possible to determine incapacity to work within the framework of video consultation hours in the context of exclusively remote treatment,” says the draft bill for the “law on the digital modernisation of care and nursing”.

Since mid-July, it has been possible to take sick leave for a maximum of seven days, also by video. This is to save patients the trouble of going to a doctor's surgery. The prerequisite is that the insured person is known to the doctor's practice and the illness allows a video examination.

The digital move is being pushed forward independent of the coronavirus pandemic. Yet several remote options for patients have sprung up as a result of it.

Vocabulary: Digital sick leave – (die) Krankschreibung

READ ALSO: Doctors in Germany to be allowed to grant sick leave by video

Tweet of the day

Germany may not be the first nation that comes to mind when you think of humour. But, as we all know, Germans are really funny and not afraid to make fun of themselves.

So we were impressed by these Christmas decorations which show toilet paper really is the must-have accessory of 2020.

These tree decorations are available from Butlers for €4.99… it's tempting, we have to admit.

Vocabulary: Toilet paper: (das) Klopapier/Toilettenpapier

People on lower wages in Germany have 'little incentive to work more'

A new study shows that lower earners in Germany have little financial incentive to increase their weekly hours.

Full-time work or an increase in hours for part-time workers is hardly worthwhile financially for single people on lower wages, according to a study published by Ifo researchers Andreas Peichl and Maximilian Blömer for the Bertelsmann Foundation.

An additional gross hourly wage of €10 results in only €2.50 to €3.90 (of that €10) going to those without children after tax and social security contributions.

The experts say it's a similar picture for single parents with two children. Even in couple households, second earners are burdened with high taxes and contributions if they work part-time or full-time, according to the study.

“This is not fair and there is no incentive, especially for women, to work more, even though baby boomers are now gradually retiring,” said Peichl.

Vocabulary: Full time work – (die) Vollzeitarbeit

Should you up your hours if it's not worth it? Photo: DPA

720,000 Germans not recycling due to Covid quarantine

Germany is known for taking recycling seriously. It's even written in law that households should separate their waste under the Recycling Management Act.

But new recommendations mean that hundreds of thousands of Germans are breaking the separation rules legally – because they're in coronavirus quarantine, reported Welt.

People in quarantine are encouraged not to separate their household waste and instead to dispose of it in the residual waste bin. That includes packaging, food leftovers and waste paper: all in the same bag.

More than 720,000 people in Germany are currently in quarantine, a survey by Risklayer think tank shows. This figure is expected to rise significantly in the coming weeks, particularly as the government and states have urged people to quarantine if they have cold or flu symptoms.

It is recommended by the Federal Environment Ministry because it reduces the risk of waste workers or neighbours becoming infected by the virus through contaminated waste.

Photo: DPA

And the crisis has led to a higher volume of waste anyway because people are spending more time at home. “Due to the closed shops and restaurants, it is foreseeable that more service packaging in particular has been used for food and beverages,” predicted the Federal Environment Agency.

Remondis, one of the largest waste management companies in Germany, agreed. A spokesperson said the volume of waste is about five percent higher than usual. Although this is manageable, the company is at the edge of its upper capacity, raising concerns about waste overflow.

However, Remondis is in favour of the municipalities' demanding that waste in quarantined households is not separated to protect their workers.

Vocabulary: Waste separation – (die) Mülltrennung

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REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. German is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, comes with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.