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I would have a parental leave (Elternzeit) for 3 months starting soon (already announced to the company so all fine from this side).

Now, however, my company asked me if I instead of the parental leave could rather go into short-time work (Kurzarbeit) (see also here) at 100%, meaning I would also work 0 hours.

I'm quite confused about the laws behind both actually but at first glance it seams like a good deal for us (at least as far I understood so far):

In parental leave I would get 2 months parental money (Elterngeld) (my wife gets the other 12 months) which is about 60% of my income of the last 12 months. On the other hand in short-time work with the a child (which will soon be there) I would get 67% for all 3 months which is of course more money in the end. In both options I would have 100% time for my wife and child at home.

However, I'm a bit skeptical.

Can someone who is into this subject spread some light? Is this even possible and are there any possible hidden (or even obvious) drawbacks?

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  • 1
    Yeah thanks for the downvote btw that really helps in my situation ..
    – derHugo
    Sep 29 '20 at 1:59
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    uhmm... I didn't DV you... I actually took the time to write a comment to answer you off-topic (IMO) question... When I DV I just do it and move on... please, consider checking your attitude when asking for advice from kind people on this site...
    – DarkCygnus
    Sep 29 '20 at 3:14
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    @DarkCygnus I didn't say or think you downvoted .. as you can see I'm new and this is my very first post in this part of the network so if my question is off topic it would be quite kind to explain why or at least mention it in a comment .. a simple downvote is not helpful at all. I'm on other sides of the network where this kind of works :)
    – derHugo
    Sep 29 '20 at 5:22
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    @DarkCygnus Taking this to a lawyer is a waste of money! This is a question about work regulations as there are thousands on Workplace.SE. Unfortunately all European specific questions attract immediate down votes and close votes.
    – Chris
    Sep 29 '20 at 6:15
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    @derHugo if your company has an HR department perhaps a first step to approach this could be to ask them what each kind of leave implies and to point you to any relevant documentation? That could at least be another input for you to consider. Good luck
    – DarkCygnus
    Sep 29 '20 at 6:38
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Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.

Speaking from personal experience, if you take parental leave you are absent from the company payroll for those two or three months -- it is as if you are no longer employed by the company, until those two or three months are over. The Landesbank pays you about 60% of your netto income. But you are basically "free" from the company.

If you take "Kurzarbeit", you are still on the payroll of the company. The company can only put you on Kurzarbeit if other staff are on Kurzarbeit. Normally one-third of the workforce must be equally affected. Under the COVID regulations, it has been relaxed to one-tenth. (See the documents OP linked to.)

On Kurzarbeit you are still employed by the company, and you should check that the 0 hours is to be maintained. Under changes of conditions, the company might ask you to start working a reduced number of hours after e.g. one month of absence. I have never heard of employees on Kurzarbeit being allowed to work 0 hours. Normally Kurzarbeit is used to "top up" the employee's income. e.g. if the company is facing loss of business and can only afford to pay 50% of the employee salary, Kurzarbeit works as a "damage limiter".

In your position I would definitely discuss this with your employer and also check with a lawyer. Your local jurisdiction may differ from mine (I am in Baden-Württemberg.)

Also note that the months you take for parental leave are dictated by the child's birthday e.g. if your child was born on the 24th of the month, then each month parental leave runs from e.g. 24th October to 23rd November, 24th November to 23rd December, etc.

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    Short-time work with 0 hours was especially used by automotive manufacturers which didn't sell any cars and even faced a lot of order cancellations in the months after the pandemic started. This affected thousands of employees in this specific industry. Just saying to explain that this isn't that uncommon. (Feel free to add this to your answer.)
    – Chris
    Sep 29 '20 at 7:27
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    Could you elaborate what you mean with "not being on the payroll"? How does that affect the OP?
    – Chris
    Sep 29 '20 at 7:29
  • @Chris I mean to say that "not being on the payroll" is that, as far as the employer is concerned, OP is "no longer at the company". During those elternzeit months OP does not get paid by employer but by the L-Bank. So OP is not directly affected by changes at the company during absence. Sep 29 '20 at 7:48
  • Thanks a lot for your time and input! Turns out that the company has to clear up the legal aspects first. Actually they have to argument very well (mostly in front of the Argentur für Arbeit) why they want me to cancel my parental leave and prefer to send me 100% into short-time work. However, in particular it seems to be mainly a security aspects for me like assurance of 0 work hours and also the coming back to the company afterwards I have to assure/agree somehow with the company in the case that we go this way.
    – derHugo
    Sep 30 '20 at 10:07
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The main difference is job security.

If you take parental leave you are protected against lay-offs - even if the companny gets bankrupt. This protection starts several weeks before the parental leave starts.

The short-time work on the other side doesn't give you any protection. While you cannot be layed off for the same reason which caused the Kurzarbeit, you may be layed off if the situation gets worse. If there are lay-offs in near future, you might be a possible target. Also short-time work is only valid under certain circumstances, therefore it could happen that short-time work suddenly ends. Your employer only needs to announce it 2 days beforehand, so that you are less flexible during your leave.

Thus, you have to decide if the risk of lay-offs and the risk of a shorter leave is worth the potential extra money.

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  • From what I know, you can't be laid off while still on Kurzarbeit in Germany or Austria unless for misconduct or similar issues..
    – iLuvLogix
    Sep 29 '20 at 8:30
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    'An operational termination of the employment relationship during short-time work is, however, socially undesirable if it is based on the same reasons that led to the short-time work'
    – iLuvLogix
    Sep 29 '20 at 8:33
  • @iLuvLogox That's not correct (at least in Germany). "Socially undesirable" is not the same as forbidden. I double checked it, because of your comment.
    – Chris
    Sep 29 '20 at 8:43
  • Here's some info I stumbled across: link Here it says that such a lay off wouldn't hold in front of court according to § 1 Abs. 2 Satz 1 KSchG. But I agree with your comment that "Socially undesirable" is not the same as forbidden..
    – iLuvLogix
    Sep 29 '20 at 8:59
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    Thanks a lot for your time and input! Turns out that the company has to clear up the legal aspects first. Actually they have to argument very well (mostly in front of the Argentur für Arbeit) why they want me to cancel my parental leave and prefer to send me 100% into short-time work. However, in particular it seems to be mainly a security aspects for me like assurance of 0 work hours and also the coming back to the company afterwards I have to assure/agree somehow with the company in the case that we go this way.
    – derHugo
    Sep 30 '20 at 10:07

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