Factsheet for case DE-2020-11/1695 – Updated – measures in Germany
|Country||Germany , applies nationwide|
|Time period||Temporary, 11 March 2020 – 31 December 2021|
|Type||Legislations or other statutory regulations|
Measures to prevent social hardship
– Protection of vulnerable groups (beyond employment support)
|Author||Birgit Kraemer (Hans Boeckler Foundation) and Eurofound|
|Case created||11 January 2021 (updated 05 May 2021)|
Germany's pandemic response, including lock-downs, social distancing measures, occupational bans and business confinements, has disproportionally affected low-wage workers and self-employed workers (Hövermann 2020). With over 10 million employees working under Germany's short-time work scheme (Kurzarbeit) already back in May 2020, income top-ups such as child benefits, housing benefits or unemployment benefits have increased in importance (Focus online 2020). An increasing number of workers are in need of social benefits to replace or top up their income from work with social benefits.
To prevent financial hardship, the Government has eased access to Germany's basic income scheme (Grundsicherung). Applicants to not need to declare their savings, unless these are substantial. Cost of housing and gas are taken into account in their actual amount, instead of applying general rates. Easier access to te basic income scheme was granted until the end of 2020 initially and has now been extended until the end of March 2021.
The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs both provide information on their websites for workers wishing to apply for benefits.
Germany's benefits bureaucracy has expanded in the course of the economic and social crisis that is accompanying the pandemic. The basic income grant is one of over one hundred different grants or tax deductions provided for families in Germany. The broad variety of measures means that families face the risk of benefit repayment. Successful applications for some measures disable eligibility for others (see Focus online, 2020). A German study on social policy measures initiated during the first German lock down in March 2020 found that the measures are confusing in their variety, and show the high degree of insecurity with the legislator during the crisis as well as general deficits of German social policy, that become more severe during the crisis (Becker at al. 2020). In early 2021, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs commisioned a scientific evaluation of different social policy measures related to the social and economic impact of pandemic control measures. The study (BMAS 2021), based on a survey among sixty experts of social and labour market policy, found that experts attributed an efficient implementation but a moderate socio-economic effectiveness to this policy measure.
Other groups of workers
|Does not apply to businesses||Does not apply to citizens|
Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:
|Trade unions||Employers' organisations|
|Role||No involvement||No involvement|
|Form||Not applicable||Not applicable|
Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:
Social partners are usually consulted by the Federal Government when drafting national laws or other major regulations concerning the labour market. No formal tripartite social dialogue structure exists to design pandemic control measures. Germany's pandemic response is based on government by decrees, without parliamentary participation. Public statements by both social partners have informally influenced the policy design of BMFSFJ measures.
Public statements by social partners have informally influenced the design of BMFSFJ policy measure related to the government's pandemic response.
Eurofound (2021), Easing access to basic income scheme, case DE-2020-11/1695 (measures in Germany), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, http://eurofound.link/covid19eupolicywatch
Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.