European Foundation
for the Improvement of
Living and Working Conditions

The tripartite EU agency providing knowledge to assist
in the development of better social, employment and
work-related policies

COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level responses

Eurofound's COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the crisis, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for case DE-2020-11/1695 – measures in Germany

Easing access to basic income scheme

Vereinfachter Zugang zur Grundsicherung (BMAS/ BMFSFJ)

Country Germany , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 11 March 2020 – 31 March 2021
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category 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 29 January 2021)

Background information

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.

Content of measure

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.

Use of measure

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). The measures decrease financial hardship for low-income households, but potentially also increase the risk of household debt.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Unemployed
Other groups of workers
Does not apply to businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
National funds

Social partners

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:

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: N/A

Involvement

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.

Views and reactions

Public statements by social partners have informally influenced the design of BMFSFJ policy measure related to the government's pandemic response.

Sources

Citation

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.