Short-time work

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Short-time work in the employment relationship means the temporary reduction in regular working hours in a company due to a significant loss of work. Short-time work can affect all or only some of the company's employees . The affected employees work less or not at all with short-time work. Whether an employer may introduce short and whether short-time working, the right to pay reduced accordingly (wage or salary) of the employees, depends on employment law provisions.

Short-time working can be an instrument for avoiding dismissals in the event of a temporary absence from work (especially the absence of orders) . In order to partially compensate for the loss of earnings of the employees in these cases, the employees can, under certain conditions, claim compensation from unemployment insurance, the so-called short-time work allowance. Responsible for this performance is in Germany, the Federal Labor Agency in Austria, the Public Employment Service .


Short-time working is intended to relieve companies of a temporarily poor order situation by reducing personnel costs. The employees have to accept a loss of income because the short-time allowance does not replace the full net income . However, the job and a certain basic supply are retained. Collective bargaining or employment contract regulations to increase the short-time allowance up to 100% of the net loss of earnings are possible. Unlike in the case of layoffs or layoffs , the company can keep qualified and trained employees and retain the company know-how they contain .

The following applies: The receipt of short-time work allowance is subordinate to the placement in work. According to this, the Employment Agency has to examine within the framework of short-time work whether the situation on the labor market requires the recipients of short-time work allowance to be placed in other reasonable employment relationships ( Section 4 SGB ​​III ).

Labor law requirements

Short-time work is an exception to the principle that the employer has to bear the risk of loss of work, i.e. has to continue to pay the remuneration in full despite the fact that the employee is not employed if the employee has personally offered his work ( Section 615 BGB ). The employer may therefore not unilaterally order short-time work resulting in the loss of entitlement to remuneration, but only if this has been agreed in a collective agreement, in a works agreement (disputed) or in an individual agreement (employment contract).

In companies with a works council, the order of short-time work is only effective if the works council has approved the short-time work ( Section 87 (1) No. 3 BetrVG ). In the case of short-time work, an informal regulation agreement is not sufficient . Short-time work can only be effectively introduced in a written company agreement .

The requirements for an effective company agreement on short-time work are controversial. According to the prevailing case law of the regional labor courts, “it is necessary that in a works agreement on the introduction of short-time work, the normative effect for the employment relationships concerned should develop, the start and duration of short-time work, the location and distribution of working hours, the selection of those affected by short-time work Employees or the department as well as the periods in which the work is to be completely canceled are determined in order to comply with the principle of certainty applicable to legal norms ”.

If short-time work has not been effectively ordered according to the criteria mentioned, the employee who offers his work is entitled to full remuneration despite the loss of work. There is no entitlement to short-time work allowance due to the lack of loss of earnings.

Short-time working is not permitted for temporary workers due to Section 11 (4) AÜG . In addition, the prerequisites for short-time work allowance are generally not met because loss of work in temporary employment agencies is generally customary in the industry. An exemption in effect since February 1, 2009 ended on December 31, 2011.

Collective agreements

In addition to the social and labor law regulations, collective bargaining agreements may exist.

In such a scheme, for. For example, a subsidy from the employer towards the remuneration of employees on short-time work, job security or qualification measures for employees on short-time work can be agreed.

Short-time allowance

Social law requirements in the Federal Republic of Germany

According to §§ 95 ff. SGB ​​III, there is an entitlement to short-time work allowance if

  • there is a significant loss of work with loss of earnings. A loss of work is significant if it
    • is based on economic reasons or an inevitable event and
    • is temporary and
    • is unavoidable and
      • A loss of work can be avoided if it is predominantly seasonal, customary in the company or in the industry, is based solely on organizational reasons, can be prevented in whole or in part by granting vacation, or z. B. can be avoided by using existing working hours flexibility regulations ( Section 96 (4) SGB III).
    • in the respective calendar month (entitlement period) at least one third of the employees in the company are affected by a loss of earnings of more than 10% of their gross monthly earnings.
  • at least one employee is employed in the company (company requirement) and
  • the employee affected by the loss of work fulfills the personal requirements, in particular his employment relationship is to be continued, i.e. has neither been terminated nor terminated and
  • the employment agency has been notified in writing of the loss of work by the employer or the works council . The notification by the employer should be accompanied by a statement by the works council, if there is one in the company.


In addition to the total or partial reduction in wages due to the loss of work , the so-called "short wage", the employee concerned receives short-time work allowance from the Federal Employment Agency as compensation .

The short-time work allowance is 60% (general benefit rate) of the net wage difference for the month in which the work was canceled, i.e. short-time work was carried out (entitlement period). Employees, regardless of their marital status, receive an increased benefit rate of 67% and have a child tax allowance of at least 0.5 on their income tax card ( Section 105 and Section 106 SGB ​​III).

During the COVID-19 pandemic , it was decided at the end of April 2020 to increase the short-time allowance for a limited period until the end of 2020. From the fourth month 70 percent (77 percent with child allowance) and from the seventh month 80 percent (87 percent with child allowance) are paid.

The net charge difference corresponds to the difference between the lump net remuneration from the target charge (capped by the contribution ceiling ) and the lump net remuneration from the Istentgelt. Target remuneration is the gross wage that the employee would have achieved without the loss of work based on his regular working hours, i.e. without taking overtime into account. Temporary changes to the contractually agreed working hours due to collective employment security agreements are not taken into account. Actual remuneration is the gross remuneration actually achieved by the employee in the entitlement period plus all remuneration components due to him. One-off payments such as vacation or Christmas bonuses are not taken into account when determining both the target and the actual remuneration.

The actual remuneration also includes remuneration that the employee earns from other employment, self-employed work or work as a helping family member while receiving the short-time allowance ( Section 106 (3) SGB III). This reduces the net wage difference and thus the amount of short-time allowance. Income from a part-time job that was started before the short-time allowance was drawn does not reduce the amount of the short-time allowance unless the income generated from it is increased.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the opportunity was created to earn additional income without reducing the short-time allowance: Income from secondary employment is not taken into account until 100% of the original salary has been reached. This regulation applies from May 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

The Federal Employment Agency sets up a table for calculating the short-time allowance . From the table, the respective arithmetical benefit rates can be read off according to the flat-rate monthly net wages, which result from the previously determined gross target wage or the gross actual wage. The difference between the two arithmetical benefit rates read from the table gives the amount of short-time work allowance. The table is based on the flat-rate net wages, which are set by ordinance by the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs .

Subscription period

Since 2016, short-time work has been limited to 12 months ( Section 104 (1) SGB III). On the occasion of the COVID-19 pandemic, short-time work benefits, which started in 2019, can be granted beyond the 12 months, but for a maximum of 21 months and a maximum of 31 December 2020.

Until the end of 2006 the duration was 6 months. However, if there are exceptional conditions on the labor market, the maximum duration could be extended to up to 24 months by ordinance ( Section 109 (1) No. 2 SGB III). This was done as follows: For the period from January 1, 2007 to June 30, 2007, the extended subscription period of 15 months and thereafter until December 31, 2008, an extended subscription period of 12 months applied. From January 1, 2009, the period for short-time working allowance was initially 18 months; the period of benefits was then extended retrospectively to 24 months in May 2009 for all claims that arose between January 1 and December 31, 2009. The subscription period for employees whose entitlement to short-time working allowance arose between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010 was 18 months. The maximum subscription period for employees who were entitled to short-time work benefits in 2011 was 12 months. In 2012 the duration was 6 months. From 2013 to 2015, the maximum duration of benefits was again extended to 12 months by ordinance.

The reference period applies uniformly to all employees in the company. In the case of consecutive interruptions of short-time work allowance of one month, the duration of the payment is extended accordingly; in the case of a consecutive three-month break, the duration of the payment begins again.

The Employment Agency can temporarily place recipients of short-time allowance in another job (second employment relationship). The employees are obliged to report to the employment agency upon request and to accept reasonable employment offered. If they do not take up such employment for no good reason and despite being informed about the legal consequences, the short-time work allowance is usually denied for a period of three weeks (blocking period). The earnings from the second employment relationship increase the employee's actual remuneration, which means that they receive less short-time allowance.

Social security contributions

Social security contributions are also paid for the period in which short-time work benefits are drawn , so that the employee hardly loses any rights there. For short-time work benefits, the contributions to pension , health and long-term care insurance are based on a fictitious remuneration, which generally corresponds to 80% of the normal gross remuneration ( Section 166 (1) No. 2 SGB VI, Section 232a (2) SGB V Section 57 (1) sentence 1 SGB XI). These contributions are borne by the employer alone, in statutory health insurance including the 0.9 contribution rate points that the employee would otherwise have to pay if he does not receive short-time work benefits (Section 249 (2) SGB V). For the time that the employee is actually employed and receives wages, he and the employer bear the social security contributions according to the usual amount and distribution.

In the course of the financial crisis from 2007 it was regulated that the employers would be reimbursed half of the social security contributions by the Federal Employment Agency . This applied from February 1, 2009 to December 31, 2011 ( Section 421t Paragraph 1 No. 1 SGB III). During this period, the Federal Agency reimbursed the social security contributions in full if the employer trained his employees further during the short-time working period ( Section 419 (1) No. 2 SGB III), until the end of December 2011, from the seventh month of short-time working, the social security contributions were independent of qualification measures fully taken over by the Federal Employment Agency ( Section 419 Paragraph 1 No. 3 SGB III).

During the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany , it was also regulated that the social security contributions that employers have to pay for their short-time employees are reimbursed in a flat-rate form by the Federal Employment Agency. This applies from March 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

Effect on other services

If you are entitled to parental allowance at a later date , the receipt of short-time work allowance will reduce your performance. Since the amount of the parental allowance is based exclusively on the previously earned income , the short-time allowance is not taken into account when calculating the parental allowance. For example, “zero short-time work” is based on a net income of € 0.

Tax treatment

The short-time work allowance is tax-free, but is subject to the tax progression proviso . The receipt of short-time work allowance often means that an income tax return must be submitted for the year in question.

Special forms of short-time allowance

Transfer short-time work allowance ("short-time work zero")

In the event of a company restructuring (company change within the meaning of Section 111 BetrVG), short-time work benefits can also be paid if the absence from work is permanent ( Section 111 SGB ​​III). In these cases, the so-called transfer short-time work allowance is paid for a maximum of twelve months to avoid layoffs and to improve the employment prospects of the employees concerned. The employees must be grouped together in an organizationally independent unit (beE). This is usually a so-called transfer company , into which the employees transfer. The transfer company tries to qualify the employees and place them in new jobs. Since the employees there no longer work at all, one also speaks of “ short-time work zero ”. Such measures are usually carried out on the basis of a balance of interests between the employer and the works council. In an accompanying social plan , benefits such as topping up the transfer short- time work allowance by the (former) employer are agreed.

Seasonal short-time work allowance

Main article: Seasonal short-time work allowance

Seasonal short-time work allowance ( § 101 , § 102 SGB ​​III) is paid to industrial workers in companies in the construction, roofing, scaffolding and horticulture and landscaping businesses if they cannot work during bad weather due to weather or economic reasons.

In other countries


In Switzerland, short-time working allowances can be paid out temporarily. The compensation for short-time work is regulated in the Federal Act on Compulsory Unemployment Insurance and Insolvency Compensation (Unemployment Insurance Act, AVIG) of June 25, 1982, Articles 31–41. In the wake of the corona crisis , the approval process was simplified in March 2020.


The Italian social security agency INPS pays a kind of short-time allowance ("Cassa integrazione guadagni").

Great Britain

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Great Britain is introducing a type of short-time work benefit ( Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ) with retroactive effect from March 2020. The amount is 80% of wages, up to a maximum of £ 2500 per month. The state aid is paid if the employee no longer works. Short-time work, in the sense that less work is done and less is earned, requires a clause on short-time working in the employment contract .

United States

The US introduces the Paycheck Protection Program due to the COVID-19 pandemic . These are unconditional loans for businesses. If a company uses the loan to pay wages and keep jobs, the loan is waived. Several states already have various short-time work programs that provide state unemployment insurance support. There the new program is intended to provide financial support for the existing programs.


The first forerunners of the short-time work allowance is the regulation of the Potash Law of May 25, 1910. This law decreed a reduction in the capacity of the potash industry. The workers concerned received short-time work benefits paid by the German Reich .

With the regulation on unemployment benefits of February 16, 1924, the "short-time work support" was created. After the establishment of the Reichsanstalt für Arbeitsvermittlung and Unemployment Insurance through the Law on Employment Services and Unemployment Insurance of July 16, 1927, the Board of Directors of the Reichsanstalt was given the authority to order or permit the granting of short-time working support with the consent of the Reich Minister of Labor.

In Switzerland, compensation for short-time work was introduced with the Unemployment Insurance Act of 1924, although the law at that time had little to do with today's regulation. Precursors were various private and cooperative initiatives; Non-profit organizations played an important role. A clear legal distinction between unemployment and short-time work only came about with the Unemployment Insurance Act of 1982; previously the two instruments had often been mixed up.

The short-time work allowance was introduced under this name in the Federal Republic of Germany with effect from January 1, 1957 by Article II of the law amending and supplementing the law on job placement and unemployment insurance of December 23, 1956.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, in the 1970s and 1980s, short-time working allowance was used, especially in the construction industry, when a temporary lack of orders (partly due to weather conditions) was to be bridged by reducing the normal working hours in order to avoid layoffs. The expenses for 1985, for example, amounted to around 1.228 billion DM (= 627.9 million euros ).

In 1986, an amended version of Paragraph 116 of the Employment Promotion Act , now Paragraph 160 of SGB ​​III , came into force in the Federal Republic . Employees who are indirectly affected by a strike are therefore not allowed to pay short-time work benefits from the employment offices. The corresponding “ Franke Decree” had previously been rejected by labor courts .


  • Christian Beck: Short-time work: Legally secure implementation in the company. (Series of publications: Compact Knowledge of Wages and Personnel ). 1st edition DATEV eG , Nuremberg 2016.
  • Ludwig / Nehring / Kopp: The new short-time allowance. Season and transfer KUG. , Haufe Verlag, 2006, ISBN 3-448-07476-4 .
  • Adrian Pewestorf: Short-time work allowance Temporary Regulation . 2nd edition Nomos, Baden-Baden, 2014. 165418215X (SWB catalog no.)
  • Elke Saffer: Compensation services in consulting: definition - requirements - processing in practice. (Series of publications: Compact Knowledge of Wages and Personnel ). 1st edition DATEV eG, Nuremberg 2018.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Heinze, RdA 1998, 19
  2. ^ LAG Hamm, judgment of August 1, 2012, 5 Sa 27/12, juris Ls. = NZA-RR 2013, 244 mwN
  3. BSG, judgment of July 21, 2009 , Az.B 7 AL 3/08 R, full text.
  4. Art. 16 of the Law on Securing Employment and Stability in Germany, new sentence 4 in Section 11 (3) AÜG; Regulation initially extended to March 31, 2012 by Art. 2 of the Employment Opportunities Act, but shortened to the end of 2011 by Art. 26 of the Act to Improve Integration Chances on the Labor Market
  5. Agreement on the implementation of short-time work, qualification and job security of IG Metall Baden-Württemberg
  6. The minimum requirement of the third was suspended from February 1, 2009 to December 31, 2011. The exemption was initially extended by Art. 1 No. 22 of the Employment Opportunities Act until the end of March 2012, but was shortened again to the end of 2011 by Art. 1 No. 15 of the Act to Improve Integration Chances on the Labor Market
  8. Federal: higher short-time work and care premium. Retrieved May 15, 2020 .
  9. Table for calculating the short-time work allowance 2020
  10. Ordinances on the flat-rate net wages for short-time work allowance
  11. Short-time work allowance period regulation - KugBeV of April 16, 2020
  12. Regulations on the duration of short-time working allowance in all versions that have been in effect since 2006
  14. § 2 Paragraph 1 BEEG ; [1] - An initiative of the regional carriers of the German pension insurance and the German pension insurance Knappschaft-Bahn-See
  15. Winter Employment Ordinance - WinterbeschV
  16. ^ State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO: Short-time work allowance. Retrieved April 3, 2020 .
  17. Federal Law on Compulsory Unemployment Insurance and Insolvency Compensation of June 25, 1982 (with changes that have occurred since).
  18. State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO: Expansion and simplification of short-time work. Retrieved April 3, 2020 .
  19. see also Italian Wikipedia
  20. a b "Martin Lanz (Washington), Benjamin Triebe (London)": The Anglo-Saxon U-turn: Instead of relying on liberal labor markets, the USA and Great Britain introduce short-time work - and hide the European origin of the models. In: NZZ . April 10, 2020, accessed April 13, 2020 .
  21. § 130 Law on Employment Agencies and Unemployment Insurance of July 16, 1927, RGBl. I, pp. 187, 202
  22. Thomas Fulster: A brief history of short-time work. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung , April 3, 2020, p. 19 or from the same date (accessed April 5, 2020).
  23. Federal Law Gazette 1956 I p. 1018 (pdf, 11.7 MB)
  24. IG Metall tariff dictionary
  25. ^ The daily newspaper taz of December 22, 1989