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WORKING IN GERMANY

German nursing home staff to recieve ‘Covid bonus’ of up to €550

As a reward for working in elderly care throughout several tough months of the pandemic, the German Health Ministry is planning to offer employees in the sector a Covid bonus of up to €550 this year.

Nursing home in Baden-Württemberg
Elderly patients play a fitness-focussed ball game at a nursing home in Burladingen, Baden-Württemberg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Weißbrod

The Covid bonus of €550 will go to full-time workers in elderly care in the second half of the year, a Health Ministry key points paper has revealed.

It suggests that the bonus is set to paid to nursing staff “who performed outstandingly during the pandemic” when working with elderly patients in nursing and care homes. 

This includes nursing staff who were particularly burdened by the treatment of Covid patients through, for example, increased hygiene measures or an increased risk of infection.

“The nursing bonus is coming, we have developed a corresponding draft,” confirmed Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) in an interview on the joint morning programme of ARD and ZDF on Tuesday.

The draft will now be passed on to health committees for review with the aiming of paying out the bonus from June 30th.

Employees who worked in geriatric care for at least three months between November 1st 2020 and June 30th 2022 and are still employed on June 30th 2022 are to benefit.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: What you need to know about Germany’s Covid reopening plan

According to the draft, which is available to the newspapers of the Funke Media Group, the highest amount of €550 will be paid to full-time employees in direct care and support.

Up to €370 will be paid to staff who work at least 25 percent of the time in direct care and support, such as administrators, building services, kitchen, cleaning, reception and security services, gardening and grounds maintenance, laundry or logistics.

Trainees in elderly care are to receive up to €330, other employees up to €190 and volunteers and participants in the ‘voluntary social year’ (FSJ) scheme will receive up to €60.

Employers will receive the bonus through their care insurance, the paper suggests. 

€1 billion earmarked for nurses

The traffic light government has put aside €1 billion for the ‘Covid care bonus’, which is set to be split equally between nurses in care homes and nurses in hospitals.

According to the ministry draft, the bonus will be directed at bedside nurses at hospitals where at least ten people were treated with ventilators during the Covid crisis.

Hospital owners will decide how to distribute the bonus payments between their staff, though intensive care nurses are likely to receive more. 

Discussing the move, Lauterbach said the care bonus was just the start of a wider scheme to make nursing a more attractive profession. 

“We must also improve the situation for carers in general through new staffing systems and better working conditions,” he said.

READ ALSO: German court refuses to delay vaccine mandate for health workers

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IMMIGRATION

EXPLAINED: How Germany plans to make immigration easier for skilled workers

The German government has agreed on a set of reforms for the immigration of skilled workers, which was approved by the cabinet on Wednesday. Here's what they're planning.

EXPLAINED: How Germany plans to make immigration easier for skilled workers

What’s happening?

Germany is currently facing a dramatic skilled worker shortage, particularly in the health sector, IT, construction, architecture, engineering and building services. The German government currently expects that, by 2026, there will be 240,000 jobs for which there will be no qualified candidates.

In order to help plug the gap in the labour market, the coalition government has been proposing changes to immigration law for months.

In September, Labour Minister Hubertus Heil presented plans for a new points-based immigration system, that will enable non-EU workers to come to Germany to look for work even without a job offer, as long as they fulfil certain criteria, under a so-called “Opportunity Card” (Chancenkarte) scheme.

READ ALSO: Explained: How to apply for Germany’s new ‘opportunity card’ and other visas for job seekers

Now, the coalition government has agreed on a wide-ranging set of initiatives to help remove hurdles for skilled workers coming to Germany. The points were approved by the cabinet on Wednesday, who should then come up with a draft law in the first quarter of 2023.

What’s in the plans?

The central aim of the government’s plans is to make it easier for people from outside the EU to find a job in Germany.

In the draft paper, ministers distinguish between three so-called pillars, the first of which concerns the requirements that foreign specialists must meet in order to be allowed to work in Germany.

Until now, they have had to have a recognized degree and an employment contract, but the government wants to lower this hurdle.

The draft states: “For specialists who are unable to present documents relating to their professional qualifications or can only do so in part, for reasons for which they themselves are not responsible, an entry and residence option should nevertheless be created.” The competencies could then be finally examined once they have arrived in Germany.

A trainee electrician practices in a training centre in Cologne. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Oliver Berg

The second pillar involves skilled workers from abroad who do not yet have a degree but already have a lot of professional experience.

For employees in the information and communications technology sector, the requirement of having sufficient German language skills would be waived, and it would then be up to the managers of the company making the job offer to decide whether or not they want to employ the skilled worker despite a lack of German language skills. 

READ ALSO: ‘More jobs in English’: How Germany could attract international workers

The third pillar is about enabling third-country nationals with good potential to stay in Germany in order to find a job. The “Opportunity Card” falls under this pillar and will involve a new points-based system, which will allow non-EU nationals to come to Germany to look for work even without a job offer as long as they fulfil at least three of the criteria of having a degree or professional qualification, having experience of at least three years, having a language skill or previous residence in Germany and are under 35.

READ ALSO: How to apply for Germany’s new opportunity card and other visas for job seekers

What other initiatives do the plans include?

The traffic light coalition also wants to do more to promote Germany as an attractive, innovative and diverse country abroad.

One initiative is to publicise job vacancies internationally and connect qualified people abroad with employers and educational institutions in Germany. 

READ ALSO: Will immigration reform be enough to combat Germany’s worker shortage?

The “Make it in Germany” portal, which has its own job exchange, will be expanded and further developed.

The government also wants to promote the German language both abroad and at home for example, by expanding digital language courses and exams.

The government also wants to simplify and accelerate the recognition procedures for foreign vocational qualifications. One of the planned measures is that the required documents can also be accepted in English or in the original language.

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