Life in Germany. Important changes coming into effect from July 2023. Things in Germany are changing, from higher fees for care-giving, to pensioners receiving more money to better protection for caregivers. Here’s what changes you should expect;
Pensioners to receive more money
Approximately 21 million pensioners in Germany will receive more money starting July 1st: In the west, pensions will be increased by 4.39 percent, and by 5.86 percent in the east.
This means that, in future, a uniform pension amount will apply throughout Germany. For an average earner with 45 years of contributions, the pension increases will amount to around €71 more per month in the west and €93 more in the east of the country.
Higher care contributions – especially for people without children
Under the Long-Term Care Support and Relief Act (Pflegeunterstützungs- und -entlastungsgesetz, or PEUG), the general contribution rate for long-term care insurance (Pflegeversicherung) will rise from 3.05 percent of gross wages to 3.4 percent. The employee will pay half while the employer foots the other half.
But childless people will see an extra surcharge, which will increase from 0.35 to 0.6 percentage points – an amount which is expected to generate approximately €6.6 billion more per year for the German government. On the whole, this group will have to pay 2.3 percent of their gross income.
People with multiple children, on the other hand, will see their contribution reduced. From the second and up to the fifth child, their regular contribution goes down by 0.25 points up until each child’s 25th birthday.
Protection for whistleblowers
Starting July 2nd, whistleblowers who uncover malpractice within public authorities and companies in Germany are to be protected from dismissal and harassment.
In addition, authorities and companies are required to set up contacts to receive reports on fraud, corruption or violations of animal welfare or environmental protection rules.
Important changes coming into effect in Germany from July 2023: Better Bürgergeld benefits
Some changes are taking effect in the Bürgergeld (citizen’s income), Germany’s replacement to its former Harz IV unemployment benefits system. Instead of prioritising job placements, low-skilled workers are to receive support for further vocational training in order to open up access to the skilled labour market for them.
In addition, the income exemption limit (Einkommensfreigrenze) will be increased: People with a monthly income of between €520 and €1,000 will be allowed to keep 30 instead of 20 percent of their income free of taxes.
Young people can also look forward to more money. Income from school or student jobs, vocational training or pocket money from a federal voluntary service or a voluntary social year (FSJ) can be earned up to the mini-job limit of €520.
Pupils who earn their money during school holidays will also be entitled to keep all of the money they have earned. Volunteers can also receive an expense allowance of up to €3,000 per year.
E-prescription to become available
Starting in July, people with statutory health insurance will be able to access e-prescriptions at pharmacies with their insurance cards. The new regulation from Germany’s Health Ministry means that patients will no longer have to make a separate trip to the doctor’s office to pick up their prescriptions on paper.
By the end of July, 80 percent of pharmacies are expected to be connected to the new system. However, anyone who wants an old-fashioned paper receipt can still receive one on request. Read more about E-prescriptions here: E-prescriptions in Germany: What you need to know about your doctor’s visit from September 2022
End of simplified access to Kurzarbeit
The Covid-19 pandemic was declared over by German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach in April. In line with his announcement, regular rules will apply again starting July 2023 when it comes to the application for Kurzarbeit (short-time allowance).
The system enables employees with a reduced workload – due to a struggling economy, for example – to still keep their jobs and a percentage of their salaries.
Starting in July, at least one-third (up from the previous 10 percent) of their employees at a company will have have suffered a loss of pay of more than 10 percent in any given month to qualify for the wage-replacement benefit.
Read more about work in Germany here: Important changes affecting employees and employers in 2023
Higher shipping costs
Some DHL delivery service customers will have to pay higher prices from July 1st: The postage cost for a 10-kilo parcel will rise from €9.49 to €10.49.
Services such as cash on delivery or bulky goods will also become more expensive.
Gas storage levy
The gas storage levy will rise on July 1st to €1.45 per megawatt hour (0.145 cents per kilowatt hour) from the previous 59 cents per megawatt hour.
For a single-family house with an annual consumption of 20,000 KWh, this will result in additional costs of around €18 per year.
The Maestro function on German giro cards will no longer be available in future. Until now, customers could pay and withdraw money with this card abroad without any problems.
However, even without the Maestro function, the Giro card is fully usable in Germany – meaning you should still be able to pay and withdraw money with a Giro card as usual. As is already possible with some banks, customers could get a Giro card for domestic use and a debit or credit card for use abroad.
According to the German Banking Industry, banks and savings banks are now choosing new partners for use abroad.
Important changes coming into effect in Germany from July 2023: Summer holidays
All 16 German states have their own windows for school holidays, which stop and start at different times. But this year, there is exactly one week in which all pupils in Germany can enjoy their holidays together, starting on July 28th, when Bavaria becomes the last state to start its school-free period.
Other German states mostly start their holidays in July: In North Rhine-Westphalia, Schulferien already started on June 22nd.
Saxony-Anhalt, Bremen and Lower Saxony send their children off on holiday on July 6th, while Thuringia and Saxony have their turn on July 10th.
In Berlin and Brandenburg, the summer holidays begin on July 13th, as do those in Hamburg. In Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania the holidays start on July 17th, in Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland on July 24th.
Children in Baden-Württemberg don’t start their holidays until July 27th.
Source: The Local