August 2022: 8 changes affecting expats in Germany
It’s not just summer weather we can expect as Germany heads into a new month. From new laws on employment contracts to the end of public transport discounts, here’s what expats should look out for in August 2022.
1. Last month of the 9-euro ticket and fuel tax rebate
The 9-euro ticket and the tax rebate on petrol and diesel have provided some much-needed financial relief over the past few months - and in making public transport and driving in Germany cheaper, made this a great summer for exploring the federal republic - but August is the final month we get to benefit from these schemes, with both set to expire on September 1.
What comes next is unclear. The cost of fuel is certainly going to go up as the reduction in taxes dissipates, but discussions are underway about some kind of follow-up for the 9-euro ticket, with the 365-euro-ticket, 69-euro-ticket and 29-euro ticket all floated as possible successors. However, once again the federal government and the federal states are disagreeing about who should finance such a scheme.
2. More Lufthansa strikes on the cards
It’s been a chaotic summer for travel so far, with Germany’s flag carrier airline Lufthansa having already cancelled more than 6.000 flights from its summer schedule as a result of staff shortages and a ground worker strike. But the chaos at German airports doesn’t look set to end anytime soon, with disruption expected to last until the end of the year, and unions mulling another strike for August 3 and 4, if salary negotiations don’t go their way.
2. More transparency in work contracts
A new EU directive is being implemented into German law in August, in a bid to give employees more transparency on their rights and obligations at work. In future, employers will have to give more information in employment contracts on things like probationary periods, working hours, overtime, shift patterns, salaries and additional remuneration. While the new law primarily affects new hires, old employees have the right to ask their employers for this information in writing.
3. Measles vaccination law comes fully into force
After being extended twice, the transitionary period for Germany’s new compulsory measles vaccination law ends on July 31, meaning all children and staff in settings like daycare centres, schools, medical practices and hospitals must now have proof that they have been vaccinated against measles. The law has been in effect since March 1, 2020, for new recruits and children just starting school, but the interim period was put in place to give everyone time to comply.
4. Gas savings efforts kick off
The EU has recently signed off an emergency plan to save gas across the bloc. Member states are being asked to voluntarily reduce national consumption by 15 percent between August 2022 and March 2023. How this will be achieved has been left up to the individual countries to decide. In Germany, some cities are already getting started, for instance by turning off nighttime monument spotlights and fountains.
5. Tax return deadline
Tax return deadlines in Germany have been extended several times in recent years due to the coronavirus pandemic, but in August the cut-off is approaching for people who had a tax advisor handle their tax return for 2020. The deadline for 2020 returns is August 31, 2022, if you are using a tax advisor.
6. New Bafög rates
At the end of June, the Bundestag voted to increase Bafög rates for students in Germany by almost 6 percent and to significantly increase allowances and special assets for those entitled to the student support. The maximum support rate will increase from 861 to 934 euros per month.
The new rates will apply from the winter semester for students going to university, while some apprentices and trainees will receive them as soon as the summer holidays end, in some cases in August.
7. Online founding of GmbH and UG possible
As Germany ramps up efforts to digitalise processes and minimise bureaucracy, a new part of the Digitisation Directive will come into force on August 1 and set the course for certain business forms to be founded online in future. Currently, anyone who wants to found a GmbH or UG needs to attend a meeting with a notary in person. In future, an online meeting will suffice instead, so long as the founder is able to provide some kind of electronic proof of identity.
8. School holidays start in some states, and end in others
And finally, August will see some children returning to their classrooms after their summer break, while in other parts of the country schools will only just have broken up - thanks to Germany’s staggered system of school holidays. In Bavaria, the summer holidays start on August 1, while in Berlin, Brandenburg, Hamburg, Bremen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein, among other states, they end just a couple of weeks later.