Many companies have introduced short-time working in the last months, which is still attributable to the tough business situation in the Euro zone. Against this background, employer associations and trade unions have demanded this autumn to extend the period of the entitlement to draw short-time allowance beyond the statutory maximum period of six months (Section 104 SGB III [German Social Code III]).

The Federal Ministry of Employment (BMAS) has now exercised its legal authority to issue regulations and has extended that period to 12 months. The regulation entered into force on 14 December 2012 and will be applicable until 31 December 2013.

At the publication of the regulation the BMAS has simultaneously suggested that the companies use the period of short-time working for carrying out preventive health care and occupational health protection measures. It expressly stated that the free time that became available could be proactively used for preventive health care or occupational health protection measures to promote the health of the employees and their employability. These measures do not preclude the entitlement to draw short-time allowance.

With this further-reaching recommendation, the BMAS stringently pursues its approach it has taken since the beginning of this year to position and further the workplace health promotion in all companies. As regards the workplace health promotion the companies have to observe the key point that the funding available from the employers’ liability insurance associations or the health insurances is often subject to the internal participation of the employees’ representatives (works councils or trade unions).