May 2020: 9 changes affecting expats in Germany
As with April, there’s quite a lot of coronavirus-related changes in Germany in May 2020. But from packages to paychecks, there’s plenty of other changes going on besides. Here’s an overview of what expats in Germany should be aware of, as April turns to May.
1. DHL prices go down on May 1
The old prices for sending a package in Germany are coming back. Less than six months after deciding to increase them, Deutsche Post’s parcel subsidiary DHL will put its prices for private customers back down to what they were on December 31, 2019. This unusual step is the result of a dispute with the Federal Network Agency, which criticised the new prices as being too high.
From May 1 onwards, therefore, a medium-sized parcel weighing up to two kilos will cost 4,50 euros to send within Germany, instead of 4,79 euros as before. The cost of shipping a 10-kilo package will drop by one euro to 9,49 euros. The online prices are a little cheaper. If you posted a lot of parcels between January and May, back luck, as there are no plans to reimburse customers.
2. Hairdressers in Germany back open
As part of the federal government’s plan to gradually loosen coronavirus restrictions, hairdressers in Germany will be allowed to open again from May 4. To prevent the spread of the virus, however, some new rules will be in place, for example requiring both customers and hairdressers to wear mouth-nose coverings. It is expected that the extra hygiene measures will force hairdressers to increase their prices slightly.
3. Schools to reopen
The federal government and federal states also agreed that schools in Germany should be allowed to reopen gradually from May 4. The first classes to return will be those who have exams either this year or next year and the fourth class of primary schools. However, the actual procedure varies quite a lot from state to state.
4. Changes to reduced working hours (Kurzarbeit)
From May 1, regulations on additional earnings under the Kurzarbeit scheme will be relaxed. Under the scheme, those who have been placed on shorter working hours by their employer as a result of the coronavirus crisis can have around two-thirds of their salary covered by government coffers.
Up until now, however, if you were on Kurzarbeit and you also took out a part-time job, your benefits would be reduced. From May 1, however, anyone in the scheme can earn additional money without it having a negative impact on their Kurzarbeit payments.
5. Tax return deadline extended
Tax advisors in Germany were supposed to submit their clients’ income tax returns for 2018 by February 28, 2020. However, due to the coronavirus crisis, the deadline has been extended until May 31, 2020.
6. Menthol cigarettes prohibited
As the result of a new EU tobacco directive, which provides for stricter regulation of tobacco products, menthol cigarettes will not be sold in Germany after May 20, 2020. Tobacco products should no longer contain aromas that mask the taste of tobacco.
7. Minimum wages for painters to increase
Good news for painters and varnishers, whose minimum salary will increase from 10,85 to 11,10 per hour from May 1, 2020 onwards. Stonemasons’ wages will also go up, from 11,85 euros to 12,20 euros per hour.
8. Berlin gets another holiday
May 8 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe and Berlin has therefore decided to commemorate “Liberation Day” as a one-off public holiday. The day has also been declared a day of remembrance in Bremen, but unfortunately not an official holiday.
9. Deutsche Bahn extends cancellation policy
Those who were planning a journey by train over the coming long weekend can exchange their Deutsche Bahn ticket for a voucher. The company has extended its goodwill regulation, which was originally meant to end on April 30.
This applies to all long-distance tickets bought before March 13, with a travel date of up to May 4. The vouchers are available online via the DB website and are valid for three years. For long-distance journey booked for after May 4, customers can now use their tickets flexibly up until October 31, as long as they were bought before March 13.