Since 1 January 2012, the new family care law has been in force: The so-called "work-life balance" should make it easier for working people to care for family members and enable them to continue working in addition to caring. We have put together the most important information about the new law for you.
Number of people in need of care grows
The number of people in need of care in Germany is steadily increasing: there are currently around 2.5 million people who depend on outside help in everyday life. Of these, about 1.7 million people are cared for at home - either by their own relatives or by an outpatient nursing service.
For relatives who are fully employed, a comprehensive care of a person in need of care is usually difficult or impossible to reconcile with the professional duties. However, the new Family Care Time Act, passed by the Bundestag in October 2011, will make it easier for family members to reconcile care and work in the future.
Family Care - old regulations remain
Before the entry into force of the new family care law - that is, until the end of 2011 - there were two options for employees wishing to look after a relative at home: first, they could withdraw from work for up to six months. During this time off, they were paid no wages and salaries, but remained covered by social security. However, this rule only applied to companies with at least 15 employees. The period of care and the extent of the leave had to be communicated to the employer at least ten days before the start of the period of care.
On the other hand, it was possible to be exempted from work for up to ten days in the event of a spontaneous family care event. This should guarantee that appropriate care can be organized for the relatives. This regulation also applied to small businesses, so it was not linked to the number of employees. For the exemption, a medical certificate was sufficient.
These two regulations will remain in force after 1 January 2012.
Family care period from 2012
In the future, employees can reduce their working time to a minimum of 15 hours for a maximum of two years in consultation with their employer. During this period, known as the nursing phase, the salary is only reduced by half of the respective reduction in working hours. Anyone who has had a full job and wants to reduce it to half a job will receive 75 percent of his salary during the nursing period.
After the end of the nursing phase - at the latest after two years - then follows the aftercare phase. This lasts just as long as the nursing phase and serves to balance the wage and hour account again: The employee increases his number of hours again, but does not get his full salary until he has reduced his hour minus: For the above example, this means that The employee again takes a full job, but continues to receive only 75 percent of his salary.
Only after this period of care has been completed can a further phase of care be requested for the same person in need of care.
Family care for part-time employees
Part-time workers - unlike full-time employees - can compensate for the employer-paid advance not just on salary but also on working time. An example: An employee who worked 30 hours before the start of the nursing period reduces the number of hours during the nursing time to 20 hours and thus pays 25 hours during the nursing phase. After the end of the nursing period, the part-time employee now has two options:
- He works as before 30 hours, but gets paid for the period of the aftercare phase only 25 hours.
- He now works 35 hours but only gets 30 hours for the duration of the aftercare period.
If you have a temporary amount, you can only apply for family care for half of the remaining period of the employment contract. In this way, it should be ensured that the wage advance can still be repaid during the employment relationship. The same applies to apprentices. For civil servants, the family care time law does not apply, but they can according to civil service law reduce their service or leave themselves unpaid leave the service.
Entitlement to family care
All employees who want to care for close relatives in their home environment have a right to family care. The relatives in need of care must belong to at least care level 1.
In principle, every employee - regardless of the size of the respective company - can apply for family care. It should be noted, however, that there is no legal entitlement: If there is an important reason, the employer can also reject the family care period.
If the employer has approved the family care allowance, he can apply for an interest-free loan from the Federal Office for Family Affairs and Civil Society. This loan allows the employer to pay the wage advances during the care phase. During the post-employment phase, the employer then retains part of the employee's salary and thus repays the loan.
Family care and pension
A positive aspect of family care leave is that the affected employees do not lose their pension rights during the nursing and aftercare phases. During this time, the employer will continue to pay contributions to the pension insurance based on the reduced income.
In addition, the nursing care insurance fund also pays contributions into the pension insurance system - provided that the care costs are at least 14 hours a week, and that the gainful employment does not exceed 30 hours. The payments into the pension fund are based on the care level of the relative. Through these additional payments, the pension entitlements remain at about the level of full-time employment.
Death or removal of the patient
If the patient dies during family care or if care at home is no longer possible, the basic conditions of family care leave are no longer given. The employee is then obliged to inform his employer immediately about the changed situation. The family care period ends in such a case officially in the second month after the relocation of the patient in a home or his death.
Family Care: Insurance required
In order to minimize the risk for the employer, a so-called family care insurance must be completed before the beginning of the family care period. This insurance can be used, for example, in the event of occupational or occupational disability or death of the employee. The insurance does not give the employer any financial losses in such a case. The insurance, whose premiums are relatively low, can be taken either by the employer or by the employee.
During the nursing and post-employment period, the employer may not normally terminate the employee. If he does it anyway, the employee no longer has to fulfill the duties of the post-employment phase. If, on the other hand, the employee quits or neglects his or her duties during the post-employment phase, he or she must pay the wage advance in installments.
Criticism of the family care time law
Criticism of the new family care time law stirs especially from the ranks of the SPD and the unions. They criticize that a long-term salary waiver of 25 percent could only cope with workers who earn very well. In addition, the non-existent legal claim is heavily criticized: It is feared that this only a few companies actually get involved in a family care period.
On the employer side, the family care time is so far only a little popular. Companies criticize the fact that they need to hold more staff to make up for lost time through family care. In addition, they fear that many workers will not return to work after the end of the nursing period.