Short-time work: the 13 most important questions and answers for employees

Short-time work is (unfortunately) a big issue for many people right now. It is perfectly normal for people to react to the announcement of short-time work with a certain amount of unease at first. In general, Corona is turning society and the economy upside down at the moment. Basically, however, it should be noted: Short-time work is not the end of the world, on the contrary. Short-time work ultimately helps to overcome crisis situations like the current one without having to lay off employees*, i.e. to secure employment.

Nevertheless: The uncertainty is great and not everything that is announced on the official sites and in the news is easily explained. With the following 13 questions, we would like to talk about the things that are currently affecting many employees – and possibly you as well: What does short-time work actually mean, what are the consequences of short-time work, what are the (legal) conditions?? At the same time, we would like to open up perspectives for you: How can you organize your everyday life with short-time work in a meaningful way, what should you think about for the time "afterwards"??

I should work short time. What to do now?

Basically, everything organizational, i.e. the application for short-time work, lies with the employer. Only if your company does not have a works council and / or no collective agreements that regulate everything on the subject of short-time work, you have to make an agreement or. Sign the declaration, as in this case every single employee has to agree to short-time work. Even if the situation may be somewhat overwhelming, the following applies here: If you are unsure about contract changes, ask experts for advice. Information can be provided here z. B. Trade unions, lawyers, but also consumer advice centers.

If it is clear that all or a proportion of employees will have to go on short-time working, separate arrangements and written agreements are of course important: Who works how much?? How long is short-time work expected to last? Which tasks have priority during this time, what can be left undone? At best, your manager will approach you here. If a clarifying discussion does not take place, you should actively demand it. It is important that all parties involved have clarity.

An application form for short-time work

Short-time work is requested by your employer. The concrete implementation should be discussed with you.

How long will the short-time work last and how quickly can the employer increase my hours again??

Short-time allowances can generally be drawn for twelve months. In exceptional circumstances, an extension to 24 months is possible. The possibility of extension also applies if further training is completed during the short-time working period. [Update: The Employment Protection Act passed in September 2020 generally extends the maximum period of entitlement to 24 months.How long you will be sent on short-time work must be determined internally. Basically, you must still be available to the employer, d. h. You should not book a spontaneous trip around the world at the moment, and not only because of the restricted entry and exit regulations. However, no one is going to ask you to come back to the office or the workshop overnight. Nevertheless, it is important to be reachable, preferably by cell phone.

In short, the aim of all those involved will be to quickly return to normal working hours, which is why working hours can also be increased again at short notice. In most cases, there are also (collectively agreed) contractual provisions on this.

How short-time allowance is calculated?

In simplified terms, 60 percent resp. 67 percent (at min. a child) of the lost net wage is topped up by the Federal Employment Agency, d. h. your own company only pays for the real working time (short-time pay) – z. B. for 10 instead of 40 hours per week – and part of the difference to the normal salary is paid by the state (short-time allowance). The amount you get in the end also depends on how much you actually still work.

[Update: On the basis of the salary paid on 15.5.2020 ratified Social Protection Package II, the top-up increases to 70 percent (77 percent with children) starting in the fourth month and to 80 percent (87 percent with children) starting in the seventh month.]

Who will pay me the short-time allowance and can I count on the usual payment date??

Here we can reassure you: Just like the calculation, the payment of the short-time allowance should be made by your employer, just like your salary, at the usual time. You will receive a normal payroll. Your company will take care of everything else.

What impact does short-time allowance have on my social security??

Even if we have less money in our bank accounts during short-time working, social security remains in place for health, pension, nursing care, accident and unemployment insurance.

Many people are worried about their pensions right now, but we can reassure you here, because pension rights are acquired even in times of short-time work. Because we earn less at the end of the day, of course our contributions will be smaller, too. According to the pension insurance fund, short-time work nevertheless has a rather minor effect on later entitlements – also because your employer is legally obligated to pay your pension contributions if necessary. so that 80% of the contributions are paid even during short-time work "at zero.

What about taxes?

Even if the short-time allowance relieves companies in the crisis and preserves jobs, many unfortunately have to reckon with substantial additional payments in their next tax return. Short-time allowance is not subject to taxes. At the end of the year, however, it will still be counted as income and taxed here … so it’s better to put something aside now.

Am I allowed to take on a part-time job and earn extra money during short-time work??

If there is a sudden lack of money, but at the same time you have "spare" time, the idea of looking for a part-time job during the short-time working period is an obvious one. This is possible in consultation with your main employer. However, the money you earn will then be offset against your short-time allowance.

However, there are two exceptions to this:

  • The so-called mini-jobs (up to 450 €) are not counted towards the short-time allowance.
  • If you were already working part-time before you started short-time work, the income from this part-time work will not be taken into account either.

Can I be dismissed during short-time work?

Short-time work is ultimately intended to prevent employers from having to lay off their employees, so dismissal is less likely for the time being. Nevertheless, short-time work does not rule out dismissals for operational reasons as a last resort if jobs cannot be maintained in the long term. At least: previous short-time work does not affect unemployment benefits.

Does short-time work affect my vacation entitlement??

Who works less, has (unfortunately) also less entitlement to vacations. So far, there are no uniform regulations, but the European Court of Justice grants employers the right to reduce annual leave. Actually logical: Who z. B. is actually set to "zero", d. h. who does not work at all for some time, is (unfortunately) also not entitled to vacation for this time.

By the way: Vacation that has already been approved can and should, of course, also be taken during short-time work. In fact, there is then also a normal vacation pay, d. h. during this time the short-time allowance does not apply.

Am I allowed to work overtime during reduced hours?

Overtime in short-time work – that is somehow a contradiction in terms. Basically, the answer is therefore: No. If overtime is ordered, it must be paid, which in turn reduces the entitlement to short-time allowance. So it is better to avoid overtime.

What if I get sick?

Because you enjoy full insurance coverage even during short-time work, the usual rules apply: If you get sick, you’re entitled to six weeks of continued payment of your short-time pay (money from your employer for real working hours, z. B. 10 hours/week instead of 40) and continued payment of short-time allowance, d. h. the first six weeks are secured as usual. After that, as usual, you get sick pay through the health insurance company, which is also calculated as usual.

May I continue my education?

Absolutely! There is hardly a better way to use the time that is suddenly (involuntarily) available to you. How often have you thought about further training and then it didn’t work out?? Now would be exactly the right moment – for you and your company. The combination of short-time work and further training is very promising, because after the crisis you can start again with even better trained employees.

But how to make an advanced training in times when with #stayathome resp. #westayathome encourages people to stay in their homes, and many people work from home offices? Not only since Corona you can train online from the comfort of your home.

Find out more about professional development, the numerous government funding opportunities and discuss these with your employer so that your career looks even better after the crisis! For example, you can learn English or Spanish, learn more about online and social media marketing, brush up on your business skills or take a course in quality management. Further training will help you for future salary negotiations within the company or for possible job applications if your company should not be able to get back on its feet. Take the chance!

Use the time wisely: Short-time work offers a good opportunity for further training – gladly in digital live lessons.

What else can I do with all that (involuntary) free time??

Of course, it’s a bit macabre to talk about extra time off with short-time work in mind. Ultimately, however, we really do have more time for things that might otherwise be neglected. At the same time, in times of Corona and home office, we are of course faced with additional tasks, and for families in particular, the current situation means a great deal of extra work. That’s why it’s even more important to plan time for yourself, and to take your emotions, worries and thoughts seriously. Keep a physical distance, but not a social distance (#westayathome)!

The opportunity for professional development has already been discussed above: Now is the time to prepare for the (digital) future. But maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to knit or renovate your bathroom or write a novel or build a piece of furniture or try out your grandmother’s sourdough recipe. Maybe you just want to sit on the sofa and watch series – that’s okay, too. For more tips and ideas for the "extra time" we all currently have due to (some self-imposed) restrictions, you can also check out our colleague Stella’s blog post "Super, Bored at Last".

* The author of this blog entry actually prefers solutions like z. B. the gender asterisk, which is omitted here for reasons of readability. In principle, the text always refers to all persons (m / w / d).

Addendum on 17.08.2020:
We are very happy about the numerous readers of this article and the great interest, which is also clear from the many comments! However, we ask for your understanding that we cannot answer all the questions that are asked. In some cases, this involves specific and individual questions with a labor law background, which should be clarified by legal counsel in case of doubt. As a provider of continuing vocational training, we cannot and may not provide such advice.

Thank you for your understanding!
The editorial team

  • #Subsidy
  • #Short-time work
  • #Further training

Eileen von Kocemba

Eileen is a staff member in the IBB’s Pedagogical Department, where she supports lecturers and staff* in all matters relating to lesson design, gives training courses and is u. a. involved in the recruiting process and the development of new concepts. Before IBB, she studied German language and literature, political science and foreign language didactics (German as a foreign language, cultural mediation).

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