Monthly Archives: November 2018

What Would You Like To Have More Time For?

… this question stands above a video on the website of the German Federal Ministry of Labor. Interviewed passers-by give answers. It’s about how they would like to—or even urgently need to shape their lives. The reason: The parliament has just passed the law on the so-called bridge part-time work.

By Jens Kügler

“Working time is life time. You can’t get it transferred to another account,” is the summary of an interviewed woman in the video above. The new regulation on bridge part-time work is obviously intended to give time that many people have lost so far. Lifetime.

Starting in 2019, employees in Germany will be able to temporarily reduce their working hours to part-time work on an individual basis—and then, after a period of up to five years, increase them back to full-time work. This is guaranteed by law. The law is primarily intended for mothers. They often reduce their working hours after birth and have until now ended up in the so-called “part-time trap”. This means that their employers did not offer them the opportunity to switch back to full-time work. Or, as the Minister of Labor himself put it, to adapt work to life again.

Almost 80 percent of all part-time jobs subject to social insurance contributions are performed by women, a large proportion by mothers. They thus reduce their pension entitlement and increase their “chance” of old-age poverty. A “good law”, then, if everything changes from now on.

But not everything changes—and not for everyone. There are restrictions. Firstly, only employees of companies with more than 45 people can take advantage of the bridge part-time work. Secondly, in companies with 46 to 200 employees, the employer only has to grant part-time bridge work to one in 15 employees. In addition, urgent operational reasons can prevent an increase to full-time work.

In other words, the legal entitlement does not apply to the majority of all employees. Some politicians therefore criticize the law as inadequate. And criticism comes from the employer federations, too. They fear that the law would create too much bureaucratic additional burdens. But don’t we always hear complaints like this from employers’ associations?

Almost to the day 100 years ago, in mid-November 1918, the so-called Stinnes Legien Agreement was signed. For the first time in German history, employers’ associations and trade unions had agreed on wage agreements and employee representatives. Why? Because revolution prevailed, power was held for a short time by workers’ councils, and large companies feared for their existence. Did the agreement harm the economy? Not really, on the contrary. Social security is an important locational advantage.

The new law will certainly not overburden the bureaucracy and seriously burden the economy. But at least some mothers will be able to avoid the part-time trap in the future. Good for each individual and their family.

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The Need of Today is Freedom

Force people to work longer and harder? That was yesterday. If you want to retain your employees and win new ones today, you have to show them appreciation and offer them more flexibility.

Written by Jens Kügler

It’s nice when employees are indispensable. When they’re so infinitely indispensable that they must work immeasurably. My friend B., a woman aged 50, got sick because she was completely exhausted. Exhausted after two weeks of almost uninterrupted early morning and night shifts in non-stop alternation—and after that her shift supervisor gave her another eleven days without a break. B. also because sick from the arguments with the shift leader which did not leave her psyche untouched.

The consequences? The shift supervisor loses B’s (wo)manpower. Not only now, because of the illness, but basically because B. has long since quit her job mentally. In view of the shortage of skilled workers in her social profession, she will not find it difficult to immediately get a new job. However, her shift leader’s problems in recruiting and training replacements for R. will surely be immense. That’s the result of her “job planning”.

B. had just told me her story when a press release from a catering association landed in my mailbox. The association of employers demands from the legislator more flexible working hours for its employees! Well, in the past, German companies in the catering sector were not regarded as working class men’s paradises. But this association has obviously developed sensitivity for how to secure the loyalty of its employees in the “working world 4.0”, as it literally calls it in its communication.

The association considers the statutory maximum working time of eight or up to ten hours a day to be rigid and no longer up to date. The modern reality of life sets new standards. The industry representatives demand that the Working Hours Act should set a weekly maximum working time instead of a daily one. And they are not explicitly concerned about more and longer, but more flexible times. This already exists for other sectors. And the European Working Time Directive provides for it, as the press release further explains.

There is also talk of minimum rest periods, health protection and the protection of minors. Every employee should be able to decide for himself how many days he works and how much hours a day. In this way, everyone can adapt his or her life to his or her leisure time requirements and individual wishes.

That’s the way it goes, dear Mrs. shift leader: A little more life reality in work planning, please!

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