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Working in Germany: A weekly roundup of the latest jobs news and talking points

Working in Germany: A weekly roundup of the latest jobs news and talking points
Tesla boss Elon Musk with CDU chancellor candidate Armin Laschet on Friday at the new gigafactory in Brandenburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild/POOL | Patrick Pleul
Every week The Local brings you a roundup of the latest jobs news and topics around working in Germany. Here we look at post-holiday blues, the new Tesla plant near Berlin, the impact of the pandemic on freelancers and Germany's cultural sector.

Post-holiday blues

Feeling lethargic and unmotivated after your break from work? You may have ‘post-holiday syndrome’. 

This is when employees experience a drop in mood and performance on the job immediately after a vacation, Robin Kaufmann from the Institute for Occupational Health Consulting (IFBG) in Constance, told German news site Focus

However, the term syndrome is actually not correct, said Kaufmann, adding: “It’s not an illness, but a relatively short-term effect.”

It’s triggered because the body is in relaxation mode after the vacation and has to get used to the workload again (sob). 

“Maybe you had different sleep times on vacation and you have to get used to getting up early again,” said Kaufmann. “That can be a big adjustment.”

So how can you beat it?

Experts advise a gentle return to work and to take things slowly as you ease back into the rat race. 

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One trick to keep job stress at bay a bit longer could be to let automatic email responses continue for a day or two after returning home (if your job allows this).

“Then you don’t have all the customers coming at you on the first day back from vacation,” said Kaufmann.

German government to sell part of its stake in Lufthansa

The German government said it will sell part of the 20 percent stake it took last year in Lufthansa to prop up the airline group during the coronavirus pandemic, reported AFP on Monday.

The Economic Stabilisation Fund (WSF) that holds the shares in Germany’s flagship carrier “is selling a limited part of its stake”, it said in a statement. Berlin will reduce its ownership by a maximum of five percent “over several weeks”, the WSF said.

The Lufthansa group, which also includes Austrian, Swiss and Brussels Airlines, was saved from bankruptcy last June by a German government bailout.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Lufthansa says 30,000 jobs at risk due to pandemic

The government took a 20-percent stake in the group as part of a nine-billion-euro ($10 billion) state aid package.

But the help was seen as a temporary fix and the government will now begin to sell its shares due to the recent “positive of the company” and “the initial success of the forward-looking measures”, the WSF said.

It comes as the company is also in the throes of a painful restructuring to slash costs that will include thousands of staff losing their jobs, with 30,000 jobs already axed since the start of the pandemic.

As part of the recovery plan, the airline will reduce its current fleet of 800 aircrafts to 650 by 2023.

Tesla car plant eyes October opening

During a visit to the new Tesla gigafactory in Brandenburg near Berlin on Friday, CEO Elon Musk said he hopes the first cars will begin to get produced sometime in October.

When asked when he expects the factory’s final approval, Musk said: “I don’t know; we’re hoping to get the final approval in October. Or Oktoberfest. An Oktoberfest approval.”

He was also asked about his opinion on conservative Chancellor candidate Armin Laschet, who accompanied him on the tour (he’s a “great guy” according to Musk) and if Germany still rocks (yes). 

Tesla is aiming to produce 500,000 electric vehicles a year at the plant, which will also be home to “the largest battery factory in the world”. The electric car plant will also create hundreds of jobs.

But activists have slammed the project over environmental concerns.

READ ALSO: From lizards to water, eco-bumps snag Tesla’s giant car factory 

Freelancers worried about German job market

Freelancers fear drastic cuts to jobs and contracts in the coming months as a result of the Covid pandemic, according to a survey.

At least 130,000 positions are threatened in the coming six months, Funke Mediengruppe newspapers reported this week, citing a survey by the Institute for Liberal Professions on behalf of the Federal Association of Liberal Professions.

For every fifth freelancer, the economic situation has become even worse compared to the previous year, the survey said.

This is particularly true for the liberal arts professions, solo self-employed freelancers, small freelance units with up to five employees and very young companies, the president of the Federal Association of Liberal Professions, Wolfgang Ewer, told the newspaper group. For every fourth respondent, however, the situation has improved year-on-year.

Did you know…

According to the German Federal Ministry of Economics, around 1.8 million people were employed in the cultural and creative industries in Germany in 2019, with 53 percent of them in part-time or full-time work and subject to social security contributions.

Most of them were in the games and software industry (around 430,000), followed by advertising (around 129,000). In the film industry, only about 43,000 people were employed and paid social security contributions, in the book sector about 51,000 and in the performing arts only about 27,000.

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According to figures from the Cologne Office for Cultural Industries Research, the income range is considerably wider for this sector than in other occupational groups, reported Spiegel last week.

Full-time employees with a good income (50 percent have a net monthly income of between €1,100 and €2,000) contrast with those with mini-jobs and self-employed people with very low incomes.

Only 14 percent of creatives earn more than €17,500 a year as freelancers and self-employed, according to figures. Around 32 percent earn less than €450 euros a month as mini-jobbers (16 percent) or less than €17,500 euros a year as freelancers (16 percent). 

According to the Federal Statistical Office, the proportion of self-employed people in cultural professions as a whole is 39 percent. 

The creative industries have been hit particularly hard in the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Germany sets aside €2.5 billion to reboot cultural events

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