Förderprogramm "Integration durch Qualifizierung IQ"

FAQ – Short time work

What does short-time work mean?

Short-time work can be introduced by your employer.

If there is less work, short-time work is used as a means of preventing redundancies due to loss of work.

As an employee, you can only work short-time if you are subject to social insurance contributions (if you earn more than 538 Euros gross/month). With short-time work, you work fewer hours and receive less pay. The extent of short-time work can vary.

For example: with short-time work 0 you do not work at all and with short-time work 50 you only work half (50%) of the usual working hours.

As a rule, an employer can apply for short-time work for a maximum of 12 months. You will receive short-time working allowance on the date on which you have always received your wages. Your employer pays the money. If your employer does not pay short-time working allowance, you can claim compensation.

Short-time working allowance

The short-time working allowance is the money you receive for your lost wages. This is 60% (67% if you have a child living with you) of the proportional net salary. The employer can increase the short-time working allowance to up to 90%.

A table for calculating the short-time working allowance can be found here: Federal Employment Agency. 

Important: people who work in temporary employment can also receive a short-time working allowance!

Trainees are also entitled to a short-time working allowance under certain circumstances. There is no short-time working allowance for employees who have a mini job. If the short-time working allowance is not enough to cover your living expenses, you can apply for supplementary benefits from the job centre or social services. This also applies for people with a tolerated stay permit or a temporary residence permit and people with a residence permit for gainful employment or vocational training.

Please note: if you receive supplementary money from the job centre or social services, this can have consequences for your residence in some cases! Receiving short-time working allowance has no effect on your residence.


Conditions for short-time work

Conditions must be met for the introduction of short-time work:

The agreement on short-time work must be reached with all employees. You are not obliged to agree to short-time work. You cannot simply be dismissed for this reason. This could be a punishment that is not allowed.  However, this is difficult to prove in practice. The agreement on short-time work is always an amendment to your employment contract. This can be done through an amendment to the employment contract or through a company agreement.

The conditions of short-time work must be precisely described in the agreement. This includes details of the start and end (date), the number of short-time working hours per week and the percentage of salary you will receive. The employer can also top up the short-time working allowance. In this case, the total wage proportion must be stated as a percentage in the agreement. 

The agreement must also describe the field of work and the group of persons (e.g. department, warehouse) to which short-time work applies.

Employees must be notified of short-time work 7-14 days before it begins.

If you sign a short-time work agreement with your employer, you must receive a copy of it. If the information is incomplete or incomprehensible, this agreement may not be valid. In this case, you would still be entitled to full pay even after the introduction of short-time work. You don't automatically receive the pay. If you believe that the agreement is not valid, you must offer to work full time in order to receive full pay.

Please note: if you refuse short-time work, the employer can give you a notice of amendment. He/she wants to use this to change your working hours.

You have three weeks to take legal action against a notice of amendment.

Short-time work and taxes

Your employer pays you the short-time working allowance. You can see how much short-time working allowance you received last year in your wage tax certificate under "Lohnersatzleistungen" (wage replacement benefits). You will receive your wage tax certificate from your employer at the beginning of the following year.

If you have received more than € 410 in short-time working allowance in one year, you must submit a wage tax return to the tax office the following year. The deadline for this is 31 July. Short-time working allowance is generally exempt from wage tax.

Please note: you may still have to pay back taxes.

You can get support here:

  • At wage tax assistance centres. You can find addresses using the search function on the website of the Bundesverband der Lohnsteuerhilfevereine.
  • Trade unions such as NGG, IG BAU or IG Metall cooperate with wage tax assistance centres. You can ask there if you are a member. Members of the trade union ver.di can use the ver.di wage tax service free of charge, further information on this: ver.di website.
Dismissal during short-time work

If your employer dismisses you for business-related reasons, he/she must prove that there is no more work for you, not just in the short term, but permanently.

Certain conditions apply to dismissals for business-related reasons:

  • It must be urgently necessary for the company.
  • Your job must be lost in the long term and there must be no other possibility of continuing to employ you. 
  • And there must have been a proper social selection (i.e. a comparison with colleagues based on age, knowledge, length of service and other criteria).

Protection against dismissal

If you have worked for over 6 months in a company with more than 10 full-time positions subject to social insurance contributions (part-time combined), you are legally protected against dismissal.

Please note: your employer can always terminate your contract during the probationary period.

If your employer has dismissed you or you resign yourself, you are not entitled to a short-time working allowance. The same applies if you have signed a cancellation agreement. Your entitlement to short-time working allowance ends on the day you receive your notice of dismissal or on a day agreed in the cancellation agreement. From this date, the employer must pay you your full wage. It is best to seek advice on this from your Fair Integration advice centre.

Important: if you are dismissed during or after short-time work, your unemployment benefits will be calculated according to your usual income – not according to the short-time working allowance.


Holiday during short-time work

Before the start of short-time work, you must take your remaining holiday from the previous year. You can still take approved holiday from the current year during short-time work. You will continue to receive your wages (continued payment of wages) for these days of holiday, in full (no short-time working allowance). However, you can also arrange new holiday times/days with your employer.

Illness during short-time work

If you fall ill before the start of short-time work, you will receive continued payment of your wages to the amount of the short-time working allowance from the start of short-time work with short-time work 0. In the case of other reductions in working hours, for example short-time work 50%, you will receive continued payment of your wages after the start of short-time work to the amount of the short-time working allowance + 50% of your usual salary.

If you fall ill during short-time work, you will receive continued payment of your wages to the amount of the short-time working allowance with short-time work 0. In the case of other reductions in working hours, for example short-time work 50%, you will receive continued payment of your wages after the start of short-time work to the amount of the short-time working allowance + 50% of your usual salary.

In both cases, you will receive sick pay from your health insurance company after six weeks of incapacity to work. The amount of sick pay depends on your usual income – not on the short-time working allowance.

Second jobs during short-time work

If you are on short-time work, you are allowed to have a second job. This can be a mini job or a part-time job. You must inform your employer about this. You must not work in competition with your employer.

Crediting secondary income: since 1 July 2022, the following applies: if you already had your second job before short-time work, the money will not be deducted from the short-time working allowance. So you can earn more! However, if you start your second job during short-time work, your total income is what counts. This is the money from short-time work and your second job. The sum of both salaries must not be greater than your original net income from your job.