Occupational safety is even more important than usual in the Corona crisis. A proposal from the relevant ministry for professional football is causing a stir in this context. It is about the continuation of the Bundesliga with a face mask.
The Federal Ministry of Labor proposes in an internal paper that the football professionals restart the Bundesliga Wear protective masks. It quotes the news magazine “Spiegel” on Friday from the tripartite statement of the Department of Occupational Safety and Health on the hygiene concept of the German Football League (DFL). The medical masks should not slip and would have to be changed every 15 minutes.
Bundesliga could continue in May
As an alternative, it is proposed that all teams, including coaches and supervisors, be kept in permanent until the end of the season quarantine to send, for example in a hotel. The Ministry of Labor confirmed on “Spiegel” demand that the paper was created in the department. However, it is a “first draft”, the minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) did not exist.
The DFL had its plan for a resumption of the season in the Bundesliga and 2nd league presented under strict hygiene conditions and regular corona tests. Possible The restart date is May 9th. Political approval is a prerequisite.
BerlinDaimler– HR Director Wilfried Porth didn’t gloss over anything: “Obviously something is breaking away at the moment that no one knows if it can be caught up,” the manager said last week. The carmaker had to accept a drop in profits of almost 80 percent in the first quarter, sales of the core brand Mercedes decreased by 15 percent. “The fact that we will need to adjust is obvious,” said Porth. He didn’t say the word job cuts. But even before Corona, Daimler had decided to cut up to 15,000 jobs.
The fear of jobs is back in Germany and the virus pandemic will leave deep marks on the job market. Every second company is already doing short-time work. According to a survey by the Ifo Institute, almost a fifth of the companies want to lay off employees or not to extend temporary jobs.
“The fear of jobs seeps in,” says Ifo economist Klaus Wohlrabe. The job cuts plans are apparently based on the concern of many companies that the restrictions on public life in the corona crisis will not end in May.
On average, the companies surveyed expected four months of partial standstill. 84 percent feel a drop in sales due to the corona crisis, only four percent register a growing business. According to the Federal Employment Agency (BA), almost every third of the 2.2 million companies with at least one employee who is subject to social security contributions have registered short-time work.
Previous employment forecasts are becoming more and more waste every day that the corona crisis continues. “For the labor market, we expect unemployment to rise sharply over the next few months. But many companies keep their people, you can see that from short-time work, ”says Enzo Weber from the Institute for Labor Market and Vocational Research (IAB).
BA boss Detlef Scheele expected a rise in unemployment by 150,000 to 200,000 people in April a month ago. The Nuremberg authorities will present the current data next Thursday.
Domestic demand collapses
There is hardly any improvement in sight if you look at the economic development: the purchasing manager index of IHS Markit has plummeted. In the survey, 75 percent of service providers and almost as many industrial managers said that their sales had shrunk significantly. Service providers’ sales fell more than ever in the 20-year history of this survey. “Both domestic and export demand has collapsed,” writes IHS Markit economist Phil Smith.
“Demand levels will not return to pre-crisis levels anytime soon,” says Sascha Haghani, head of the global restructuring practice at management consultancy Roland Berger. That’s about it GfKConsumer barometer, which measures consumer mood, plummeted to a record low.
“Sooner or later the companies will have to adjust their costs accordingly,” Haghani expects. Probably also through job cuts: According to the IHS, more jobs were cut in the service sector than at the height of the financial crisis recession in April 2009, and the reduction in personnel is also accelerating in industry.
The Ifo survey also shows how wide the shock waves are spreading in the economy: in industry and service providers, almost every fifth company wants to lay off employees or not to extend temporary jobs. It is 15 percent in retail, and two percent on construction that has so far been little affected by downtime. Leading economists such as the head of business practices, Lars Feld, are starting to adjust their forecasts for 2020 downwards.
After Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Prime Ministers decided a slow restart of the economy last week, he expects gross domestic product (GDP) to shrink by at least 5.5 percentage points in 2020. Even in the economic institutes, which predicted a minus of 4.2 percent for 2020 in their joint forecast two weeks ago, it is now expected that a five will be before the decimal point.
The IAB had anticipated a 4.7 percent decline in GDP in March, when the economy largely stands still for two and a half months and only normalizes by the end of the year. In this case, the number of unemployed could temporarily rise from the current 2.3 million to more than three million, the Nuremberg researchers predicted at the time.
A well-known restructuring expert expects Corona to increase unemployment to as many as four million people. Especially badly hit sectors such as tourism and gastronomy are affected, but also important branches of industry such as the automotive suppliers.
The government is obviously also assuming a long period of weakness on the labor market. For example, for all unemployed people who would slide into Hartz IV between May and December, the duration of the unemployment benefit will be extended by three months. “Those who are just becoming unemployed or who have recently become unemployed currently have little chance of finding a job again,” said Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD).
In order to counter the allegations made by the unions, in particular, that politicians are more concerned with companies than with employees, the coalition committee also decided on Thursday night to increase the short-time work allowance – staggered according to the duration of benefits.
It is currently 60 percent of net income and 67 percent for employees with children. From the fourth month in Corona short-time work, employees whose working hours are reduced by at least half are now to receive 70 or 77 percent. From the seventh month, the rates increase to 80 to 87 percent.
In addition, short-time workers who take up another job can earn up to the amount of their previous monthly income. So far, this was only true for “systemically relevant” activities such as care or agriculture.
The gradual increase in short-time work benefits has met with criticism: “I would have preferred a faster increase, especially for low-wage earners,” said Sebastian Dullien, head of the Institute for Macroeconomics and Business Cycle Research (IMK). In a survey, 40 percent of employees who were on short-time work said that they would get by with the money for a maximum of three months.
Employers see “contribution club”
The decision met with a mixed response among the unions, which had hoped for a general increase to 80 or 87 percent from the start. “This protects many employees from existential hardships,” praised IG Metall boss Jörg Hofmann. On the other hand, the chairman of the Food, Beverage and Catering trade union (NGG), Guido Zeitler, declared that the increase was correct, but was too small and too late.
In the hospitality industry, employees could probably only expect 80 percent of normal net wages in October 2020. According to the NGG calculations, according to the new plans, a cook in Berlin will have around 1,070 euros instead of around 920 euros and short-time work from around 1,220 euros from the seventh month. “For hundreds of thousands of people with low incomes, the only thing left to do is to apply for Hartz IV,” said Zeitler.
IAB labor market expert Weber also criticizes the fact that the planned changes will not benefit employees in the low-wage industries in a very targeted manner. “In the end, industrial sectors that have long been in recession could benefit in particular.”
For Holger Schäfer from the employers’ institute of the German economy (IW), it is not at all clear which problem the government wants to solve with the compromise: “In the end, a lot of money is spent on a purpose that is not clearly defined.” According to Schäfer’s calculations, the BA would need 24 billion euros to send 4.5 million full-time average earners without children on short-time work for three months. The employment agency’s reserve is just under 26 billion euros.
The criticism from business was correspondingly harsh. Employer President Ingo Kramer praised coalition decisions such as help for restaurants and the easier return of losses for companies. But they would be overlaid by “spending money with a watering can”.
The employers’ association Gesamtmetall criticized that the decisions on short-time work were expensive and caused an enormous additional administrative effort at the BA: “There is great concern that when the economy restarts, the tax and contribution club will fall on the employees and companies,” said CEO Oliver Zander the Handelsblatt. BA boss Scheele said that he would have liked a “simpler regulation”.
Monika Schnitzer, a new member of the Council of Experts, told Handelsblatt that she could understand that the government wanted to expand short-time work benefits. “But I think the chosen way of increasing is problematic.” After all, many employers voluntarily increased to keep their employees. I am afraid that it will have a high share of deadweight effects. ”
Ifo President Clemens Fuest believes the decisions will stabilize consumer demand. They are therefore also “a suitable economic policy measure”. The same applies to the extension of the period of unemployment benefit
More: Tax cuts, premiums, aid: Germany’s economists argue about state aid
The SPD politician does not want to be the top candidate of his party.
Osnabruck Federal Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil does not want to run for the SPD for the chancellorship. Heil told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung (Wednesday) that he had no ambitions to apply for the office. At the same time, he praised the work of his party colleague Olaf Scholz: “Basically, Olaf Scholz does an excellent job. I experience that every day. ”The question currently is who the SPD will send to the Bundestag election next year, but“ not in the foreground, ”said Heil.
Salvation had been brought into play by former chancellor Gerhard Schröder among others as a possible candidate for chancellor for the SPD. Among other things, Schröder also mentioned Scholz as a possible candidate.
According to the “Insa opinion trend” for the “Bild” newspaper (Tuesday), the SPD is currently 15 percent. It would be in third place behind Union (38.5 percent) and Greens (16 percent). The Grand Coalition of Union and SPD as well as a black-green alliance would have a majority.
More: Federal Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil campaigns for an increase in short-time benefits.
KHead of Department Helge Braun (CDU) does not rule out an increase in government aid to cope with the Corona crisis. “We take a close look at our aid programs,” said Braun of the “Rheinische Post” and Bonn’s “General-Anzeiger”. Many industries and businesses were hit hard by the Corona crisis. For the Bundestag session week next week, he does not yet expect a need for a new aid package, “but we cannot rule out that we will have to readjust further measures afterwards,” said Braun.
In the meantime, Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) has announced the prospect of an early increase in short-time benefits in view of the corona crisis. Heil told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung not only for low-wage earners, but also for skilled workers, a significant slump: “Rent and bills have to be paid on. That is why we are looking intensively for a solution in the government and with the social partners. ”
The minister supported the demands of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) to increase government subsidies for short-time work benefits from 60 to 80 percent of the net losses (87 percent for employees with children) for the months of May, June and July. “The DGB’s demand is plausible,” said Heil. The deliberations are about “how we can compensate for loss of purchasing power if the crisis persists”
“The challenge is enormous”
He assumes that because of the Corona crisis, millions of people are “on short-time work or will leave”. Significantly more sectors are affected than in the 2008/2009 financial crisis, especially in the catering and tourism sectors. “The challenge is huge, but we have the reserves to survive together. And short-time work saves millions of jobs, ”said the minister.
There are currently around 725,000 applications for short-time work in Germany. The clear majority comes from smaller companies. Due to the corona pandemic, the federal government had decided on improvements in short-time work benefits that have been retroactive since March 1. Companies can apply for short-time work benefits when ten percent of the workforce in the company is affected by lost work time – instead of a third as before. In addition, employers are fully reimbursed for the social security contributions that they also have to pay for short-time work. The aim is to keep jobs.
AIn view of the difficulties with the preparations, the black-red coalition is now examining a step-by-step plan to introduce the basic pension for low-wage earners. Federal Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) wrote in his response to the Federal Council’s statement that the federal government wanted to introduce the basic pension on January 1, 2021. “Nevertheless, it does not fail to recognize that the basic pension is associated with a high implementation effort, particularly for those responsible for statutory pension insurance.”
At the same time, the corona crisis is also putting special stress on pension insurance. “Against this background, the proposal for a staggered implementation with retroactive payment of the basic pension surcharges for existing pensioners could in principle be considered in order to make the pension insurance easier to administer.” With such a staggering, adjustments to the accompanying exemption regulations would also be necessary, Heil emphasizes in his letter.
The changes would have to be enshrined in the Basic Pensions Act, which the Bundestag should actually advise at first reading next week. The group leaders of the CDU / CSU and SPD, Ralph Brinkhaus and Rolf Mützenich, but could not agree. The law is therefore not yet on the agenda. However, the advice could still be registered later.
Pension insurance will borrow employees
The CDU social politician Peter Weiß again contradicted rumors that the Union wanted to postpone the basic pension by one year. “It is not the goal of the Union that nothing happens,” said Weiß, the F.A.Z .: “We stand by the appointment with the SPD, we also want to keep the promise to the low earners.”
However, one should take the warnings of the pension insurance seriously, which repeatedly question the entry into force in early 2021. “A gradual entry into force of the basic pension could therefore make sense – also in order to make it administrable for the pension insurance,” said Weiß. “It is important for the Union that in a first stage the exemption regulations come into force.” With the introduction of exemptions in housing benefit, basic security for job seekers and in old age, it is achieved that the income from the statutory pension is not offset by a the welfare systems are consumed.
The pension insurance last warned at Easter that the tight schedule for the basic pension could change because the content check of 26 million pension accounts and the technical preparations for the automated data exchange with the tax authorities for the planned income check took.
The time pressure has increased due to the corona crisis, because many pension insurance employees have to work from home. In addition, the pension insurance will “lend” employees to the Federal Employment Agency who have to pay short-time benefits.
According to the coalition’s will, around 1.3 million people with small pensions will be awarded a supplement if they have at least 33 years of contribution periods for employment, child rearing or care. In the first year, the basic pension should cost 1.3 billion euros. It should be paid “from tax funds”. The Union also urges that general tax financing be provided. The financial transaction tax promised by Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz is not in sight so far.
Berlin In order to enable the slow recovery of the economy despite the still high risk of infection, the Federal Cabinet passed Covid 19 occupational safety standards on Thursday. “We must not let go, we are far from over the mountain,” said Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD). There is no return to normality anytime soon.
For example, employers must ensure that employees in buildings, outdoors and in vehicles keep a minimum distance of 1.5 meters and that colleagues do not get too close to one another in the company or during breaks – for example through barriers, markings or access regulations.
When contacts are inevitable, employers are required to keep nose and mouth covers available for employees, but also for customers or service providers. In addition, they have to provide sufficient washing facilities and disinfectants and particularly protect risk groups in their workforce.
Heil also appealed to the employees to protect their colleagues from infection: “The principle applies: never get sick to work,” said the Minister of Labor. The President of the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Isabel Rothe, explains how government regulations can be implemented in an interview with the Handelsblatt.
Read the full interview here
Ms. Rothe, how do you rate the decisions of the Federal Government and the Prime Ministers regarding the corona exit? A differentiated, balanced and appropriate solution was found – also from the point of view of health protection. I greatly appreciate that politicians seek and take into account the advice of science from a wide variety of disciplines. We are of course particularly pleased that Federal Minister of Labor Heil today announced additional mandatory occupational safety standards.
In your view, what are the requirements for working life in workshops and offices to return to normal? If not yet done, the decisions on infection protection in the company must be specified and implemented together with the occupational health and safety experts in a sector-specific and company-specific manner. Hygiene standards and distance regulations must also be strictly observed in working life.
How should that work in the open-plan office or a workshop? There are many ways to minimize contacts in everyday work, for example through technical measures to separate work areas, relaxing core working hours, home office, working time corridors or shift schedules. When working in shifts, it should be ensured that the same colleagues always work together to limit the risk of infection. And even in factories that are largely fully automated, the seating must be kept at a distance in break rooms.
Do the hygiene standards generally have to be tightened? For example, we need sufficient short breaks and sanitary facilities in the factories to enable hygiene and hand washing even more frequently. Increased cleaning intervals help to reduce the risk of infection. Wherever components are handed over despite organizational and technical measures, gloves must be mandatory. And there are also structural protective measures such as the plexiglass panes that we see at many supermarket checkouts, for example.
The occupational and organizational psychologist has headed the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Baua) since November 2007.
(Photo: Sylwia Wisbar)
Should companies keep employees working from home? Wherever possible, yes. However, we recommend switching to presence phases in the factory or office. Because contact with colleagues or the boss is an important means of good work organization and, above all, coping with stress. And at the moment, employees have a lot of stress, from worrying about their own health or that of relatives, fear of losing their job, to overtime and overwork.
Can the economy be adequately prepared for a pandemic like the current one? The topic of the pandemic is not new in the companies, especially in the larger companies there are corresponding plans. But Covid-19 eclipses everything we’ve seen in the recent past. Of course, many would now like to have large supplies of protective masks in their closets, but hardly anyone has that.
Should breathing masks be worn in the office and factory? Wherever the distance regulations cannot be adhered to consistently, covering the mouth and nose makes sense. It helps to protect employees and customers. However, respirators should be reserved for medical personnel.
What should happen if illnesses occur in the company? It is imperative that the employer adheres consistently to the stipulations of the responsible health authority. Contact persons are systematically identified here and quarantine measures may also be arranged among colleagues. It is just as important to warmly welcome colleagues once they have survived their illness; a risk of infection can then be excluded.
More: Health protection in the company is strict, but there is no alternative.
Dhe main instrument for countering the economic and political consequences of the corona pandemic is money – lots of money. The federal and state governments quickly mobilized billions, for corporations as well as for the self-employed. Money flows freely in the federal states: more than 300,000 applications have been approved in North Rhine-Westphalia, and 400,000 in Bavaria. In Berlin, the investment bank’s application portals collapsed due to overload. 1.3 billion euros were distributed within a week, some received significantly more than they had requested. The company name, date of establishment and a tax identification number were sufficient. After a few days, those were the stupid ones who hadn’t applied for anything – whether they needed money. Practically nothing was checked. Even double help could be applied for, first with the state, then with the federal government.
It is gradually becoming clear that the corona crisis also offers a great opportunity for fraud. After millions of crimes, some of which are millions of dollars, and many reports of individual cases circulate, the government is now starting to act. Federal Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil at least announced on Tuesday that fraud would be exposed and punished. The SPD politician said on television: “Most of them will behave properly, and the black sheep, which are now available, will defraud, we will catch them, we will punish them.” Nobody should now be a free-rider of this development. Heil recalled that there was “law and justice even in these times”. Those who cheat on short-time work, for example, will be “tracked with customs and we will be punished for the cases”.
The pension insurance must implement the basic pension. But now the schedule is in danger because the employees are in the home office. Minister of Labor Heil still sticks to the start date.
Dhe federal government plans to pay low-income earners who have been in employment for many years to a basic pension from January 1, 2021. Although the Bundestag and Bundesrat have yet to decide on the pension surcharge, pension insurers have long started to prepare.
However, in view of the Corona crisis, the ambitious schedule now threatens to become completely waste. Clerks and IT specialists sit in the home office and do not progress at the hoped-for speed. “This is of course a limiting factor for the introduction of the basic pension,” said the spokesman for the German Pension Insurance Federation, Dirk von der Heide, the F.A.Z. on Monday in Berlin. “We will see in more detail in the coming weeks what impact the Corona crisis will have on our work processes.”
Dhe number of companies with short-time work is soaring from one peak to the next: According to new information from the Federal Employment Agency, around 180,000 companies applied for short-time work allowance for their employees in the first week of April alone. From the beginning of the Corona crisis until April 6, a total of 650,000 such registrations were received by the employment agencies, the agency said. That is more than ten times as many as at the height of the financial and economic crisis of twelve years and at the same time almost twice as many as in the entire period from 2008 to February 2020.
At the same time, the government is preparing a conditional extension of the maximum duration of short-time work: Companies that had introduced it before the pandemic for economic reasons should be able to continue their short-time work beyond the normal period of twelve months if necessary – so that they can use this tool to secure Don’t lose jobs right now. Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) wanted to quickly issue a legal ordinance in agreement with the Chancellery, his ministry said after consultations on Thursday.
Talking about increasing short-time work benefits
In doing so, the government is taking up a demand that was raised above all from industry. According to the Federal Employment Agency, around 2,000 companies with 45,000 employees had already used short-time work in May 2019 – many of them from mechanical engineering. “These companies and their employees had to fear that they might lose their jobs in the coming days and weeks,” said Heil. With the proposed change, however, they could now apply for short-time work again and then take advantage of recently agreed relief until the end of the year – including reimbursement of social security contributions. “In this way, we secure jobs in the crisis and create security for employees,” said Heil.
The Federal Employment Agency steps in with short-time allowance if the company and employees agree to cut wages in the event of a loss of work due to a crisis in order to secure jobs. It amounts to 60 percent of the lost net wages (67 percent for short-time workers with children). So far, the Federal Employment Agency has not been able to say how many employees are currently working short-time, as this cannot be automatically read from the companies’ registrations. There is no question, however, that their number exceeds everything that has existed so far. If you only count with an average of five affected per company, the figure would be around 3.3 million for 650,000 companies.
In addition, the government coalition is also considering plans to legally increase short-time work benefits. It sees itself under strong pressure from trade unions, the Left Party and the Greens. The CDU social wing had therefore recently presented a concept for a new “minimum short-term work benefit”. The SPD prefers a flat-rate increase in wage replacement to around 80 percent. This is too little for the Greens, they demand staggered rates of up to 90m depending on their income. However, the Federal Agency strongly rejects such ideas for technical reasons alone. She will only be able to cope with the sharp rise in short-time work if the process remains as unbureaucratic as it is now, warned Detlef Scheele, CEO. “It mustn’t get any more complicated.”