My employer wants me to reduce my working hours. Do I have to accept that?
Employers can respond to the corona crisis with so-called “short-time work” (Kurzarbeit). Short-time work means that you work fewer hours than initially agreed upon in the employment contract. The fact that you work less hours has an impact on your salary. You can read what the so-called “short-time allowance” (Kurzarbeitergeld) is in the next question. With the so-called "short-time work zero" (Kurzarbeit null) you temporarily do not work at all.
Companies cannot set short-time work on their own! If a contractual agreement (e.g. your employment contract (Arbeitsvertrag), a collective agreement (Tarifvertrag) or a company agreement (Betriebsvereinbarung)) provides a certain regulation regarding short-time work, the employer is allowed to mandate short-time work. If there is no contractual agreement on short-time work, the works council (Betriebsrat) must agree to short-time work. You can find out what a works council is and about it’s responsibilities here and here. In companies without a works council and without contractual regulations regarding short-time work, the employer has to receive a written declaration of consent (Einverständniserklärung) from each employee affected by short time work. If you work in short-time work, you are entitled to short-time allowance. Get advice from a Fair Integration advice center if you are unsure whether you should sign a declaration of consent! Don't sign anything you don't understand.