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Germany – Agency workers to fall by 7%

31 October 2012

Labour market statistics yesterday showed that German unemployment rose for the seventh month in a row and although joblessness remains at one of the lowest levels since reunification over 20 years ago, weaker economic conditions are impacting the temporary staffing industry in the country.

“We can definitely feel the economic weakness,” said the head of the German association of temporary employment agencies in an interview with Die Welt on Wednesday. Volker Enkerts added that he is expecting the number of agency workers to fall from currently 864,000 to 800,000 by the end of the year, a decline of 7%.

The German staffing market has fluctuated with the number of agency workers declining in recent months.

To avert a further decline, Mr Enkerts asked the government to introduce a short-time work programme, known as Kurzarbeit, in the German staffing industry. This scheme has proved successful in the recent recession and helped to save jobs.

Under Kurzarbeit, the German state compensates 60% of an employee’s net salary if an employer has to cut back on wage cost and working times during an economic slowdown. Employees with children receive 67% of their net salary. Currently, this type of short-time allowance is paid for six months and offers training to employees who are not working.

Mr Enkerts also warned members from replacing temporary staffing with contracts of labour (Werkvertrag) that pay less money, following the introduction of higher pay rates in the staffing industry from 1 November. 

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