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2017 is an election year in Germany. Usually this means that parties change into the campaign modus and legislative amendments are rare. This is not the case in 2017, partly due to the fact that most pundits expect the grand coalition to continue after the election.

Social Security Law Updates

At the beginning of a new year regularly social security contributions are adjusted. Among them are the adjustments of the threshold. The following table outlines, which monthly remuneration is the maximum, from which social security contributions are calculated.

  West   East  
  2016 2017 2016 2017
Threshold Pension Insurance + Unemployment Insurance 6.200,00 6.350,00 5.400,00 5.700,00
Threshold Mandatory Health and Health Care Insurance 4.237,50 4.350,00 4.237,50 4.350,00
Threshold for the mandatory Health and Health Care Insurance(anybody earning above that amount may choose to opt for private insurance cover) 4,687.50 4,800.00 4,687.50 4,800.00

Minimum Wage

In 2015 the minimum wage was introduced in Germany for the first time. As of January 1st 2017 the minimum wage is raised from € 8.50 gross to € 8.84 gross per hour.

Termination of handicapped employees

As of January 1st 2017 a notice of termination is only valid, if the representation of handicapped employees has been heard in advance before issuing the notice letter. The obligation did exist previously already, but a violation of the law had no legal consequences.

Work place regulation

The new work place regulation entered into force in December 2016. This is of particular relevance for home office employees. The law outlines the obligations of the employer as far as the home office work place is concerned, further it has been clarified that mobile work (e.g. on business travel) does not fall under the scope of the work place regulation.

Temporary lease of employees

New regulations on the temporary lease of employees will enter into force on April 1st 2017. They include the restriction that an employee can be leased out from a professional leasing company for a maximum of 18 month. Further it has been stipulated that the temporary employee must receive the same remuneration as a permanent employee after nine month latest (certain exceptions apply in case of the applicability of a collective bargaining agreement).

Outlook

Further the grand coalition has agreed two further laws relevant for German employers:

Gender Equality Pay Law

The grand coalition parties have agreed today (January 11, 2017) the details of a law that has been long discussed and which was part of the original coalition agreement after the last election. The law target is to eliminate an unequal pay between men and women for the same kind of work. One of the most important features is that in companies with more than 200 employees every employee has an individual claim for information about the remuneration of comparable employees. More extensive obligations for employers exist in entities with more than 500 employees. The draft of the law will now be discussed in the parliament and it is expected to be enacted soon.

Right to return to full time work

The Ministry of labor and social affairs has just presented a draft of a law, which will enable employees to choose and change between part-time and full-time work. Currently employees under certain circumstances have a right to reduce their weekly or monthly working time for an unlimited period of time, but have no right to return to full-time work or to limit the reduced working time. According to the draft, which is currently discussed within the government, employees will have a general claim to return to full-time work unless the employer can proof that no adequate position is available.