German Employment Law in 2023

March 15, 2024

Electronic Certificate of Incapacity for Work

On January 1, 2023, Germany will begin to implement digitization processes in the statutory health insurance system. As a result, the paper certificate of incapacity for work, previously known as the “yellow certificate”, which doctors usually issue to an employee to certify their sickness, will no longer be valid. From now on, employers will be informed electronically by the relevant statutory health insurance fund about the incapacity to work of employees who are insured under the statutory health insurance.

However, The electronic reporting procedure does not apply:

• For employees with private health insurance.

• For the determination of incapacity for work by private doctors.

• For incapacity for work established by a doctor abroad.

• For parents who have to take care of a sick child.

• For gradual reintegration and rehabilitation services as well as.

• In the event of a ban on employment.

Recording of Working Time

Employers must record the working time of employees completely and comprehensibly.

Limitation of Paid Leave Entitlements

Statutory vacation entitlements will from now on only be subject to the regular three-year statute of limitations if the employer has previously fulfilled their obligations to cooperate. This means that the employer must inform all employees in the vacation year of their existing vacation entitlements and the impending expiration of paid leave entitlements. This also applies to the forfeiture of paid leave for employees who have been on long-term sick leave.

Whistle blower Protection Act

Whistleblowers shall be comprehensively protected, in particular against reprisals. Any discrimination against a whistle blower in connection with a report is prohibited. The burden of proof lies with the companies. Whistleblowers are free to choose whether to report internally or externally. Public disclosures are only permitted in exceptional cases.

Supply Chain Act

German companies must ensure that human rights, such as the right to fair wages or the prohibition of child labour, are observed within their supply chains. Initially, the law only obliges companies to introduce a risk management system that identifies, evaluates and prioritizes existing risks within a supply chain. In this context, a company should also determine who is responsible for monitoring their supply chains. The law proposes the appointment of a human rights representative on anon-binding basis.

Electronic Work Certificates

Not only health insurance companies, but also the Employment Agency will become more digital in 2023. As of January1, 2023, employment certificates, EU employment certificates, and secondary income certificates must be transmitted digitally to the Employment Agency at the request of the employee.

Skilled Worker Immigration

With a key points paper published on November 30, 2022, the German government is considering modernizing the Skilled Worker Immigration Act. The aim is to make it easier for foreign specialists from non-EU countries to take up employment in Germany and to offer them more long-term prospects in Germany.

For example, experienced professionals should be allowed to work in their respective industry in the future, even without a degree recognized in Germany. It should also be easier for them to obtain an EU Blue Card and enable their close families to follow them to Germany. To this end, the salary threshold required for this will be lowered.

Other Changes:

• Until March 31, 2023, it remains possible to obtain a sick note from a doctor by telephone for up to seven days in the case of minor respiratory illnesses.

• The possibility of claiming the home office for tax purposes has been extended. The home office flat rate of EUR 6.00 per day can also be claimed in the tax return in 2023, now even for 210 days/year.

• In contrast to works council meetings, works meetings and meetings of the conciliation committee among other things, must be held in person again from April 8, 2023.

• The access relief for short-time work allowance will initially continue to apply until June 30, 2023. This means that short-time allowance can still be applied for and granted if at least 10% of employees are affected by a loss of pay of more than 10%. In addition, the prior reduction of overtime continues to be dispensable.

• As of January 1, 2023, audits of financial statements following the receipt of short-time allowance in the period from March 2020 to June 2022 will generally only be carried out if the total amount paid out exceeds EUR 10,000.00. The only exception is if a company requests an audit of its financial statements or if there are indications that short-time allowance is being misused.

• Another change relates to supplementary income opportunities for pensioners. At the turn of the year, the additional earnings limit for early retirement pensions will be abolished. As of January1, 2023, pensioners who receive an early retirement pension will be able to draw the full amount of their pension regardless of the amount of their additional earnings. In the case of pensions for reduced earning capacity for health reasons, the supplementary income limits have been raised significantly. When drawing a pension for partial reduction in earning capacity, the annual supplementary earnings limit in 2023 will be EUR 35,650.00, and EUR 17,820.00for pensions for full reduction in earning capacity.

• As expected, the income thresholds will also change as of January 1, 2023. The income threshold for statutory health insurance will rise to EUR59,850.00 per year (EUR 4,987.50 per month) and the compulsory insurance threshold to EUR 66,600.00 per year (EUR 5,550.00 per month). As of January 1, 2023, the contribution assessment limit in the general pension insurance is EUR 7,100.00 per month in the new federal states and EUR 7,300.00 per month in the old federal states.

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