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Germany – Calls for short-time work scheme for temporary staffing

29 November 2012

Recent market statistics have shown that German unemployment has been on the rise for months and although joblessness remains at one of the lowest levels in over 20 years, weaker economic conditions are impacting the temporary staffing industry in the country.

To avert further declines, more and more experts are calling for the introduction of a short-time work programme, known as Kurzarbeit, in the German staffing industry.

The scheme has proved successful in the recent recession and helped to save jobs. Under Kurzarbeit, the German state compensates up to 67% of an employee’s net salary if an employer has to cut back on wage cost and working times during an economic slowdown.

Head of the federal labour agency, Frank-Jürgen Weise, now said in an interview with the news magazine Der Spiegel that he would support the idea of introducing the scheme in the temporary staffing industry.

“Strictly speaking, this contradicts the purpose of temporary staffing, which should actually be used to mitigate peak orders. In some cases, it [Kurzarbeit] could still be useful for human reasons, and when companies want to keep their temporary workers. One should create a legal framework for this. It is worth thinking about it,” he said.

Overall, Mr Weise remained optimistic about the German labour market and said that stability will continue into the next year. Unemployment is not expected to worsen much, but could impact particularly the automobile industry and their suppliers, he warned.

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