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Business

German industry blasts minister’s family care plan

The German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) has criticized a plan by Family Minister Kristina Schröder to allow employees to work half-time in order to care for family members.

Young hands holding old hands

Many Germans find it hard to work and care for relatives

Representatives of German industry don't think much of Kristina Schröder's idea. The family minister wants companies to allow their employees to work part-time while caring for aged or ill family members at home - and still get paid most of their salaries.

Writing in the Münsterland Zeitung newspaper, the deputy CEO of the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), Achim Dercks, described the minister's initiative as "unnecessary regulation."

"Stronger dismissal protection, unclear claim criteria and new bureaucracy – in the end it just means new burdens for companies."

Kristina Schröder

Kristina Schröder's scheme could become law in 2012

Schröder's plan is that in companies with more than 16 employees, workers can work only 50 percent of their working week for up to two years, but receive 75 percent of their wages, if they care for a family member at home.

To compensate for the extra expense to the companies, the reduced wages will continue once the employee is back working full-time.

Legally protected care

"Legal regulations put a brake on individual initiative and the creativity of the companies," said Dercks. He argued that more and more companies offer flexible work and various financial incentives, and that a single state-imposed family care program would not be appropriate for "the great variety of different situations with companies and employees."

The government's junior coalition partner, the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) has also voiced concerns about the plan, though it is yet to issue an official response.

Schröder's aim is to introduce the new scheme at the start of 2012. It is currently being debated by the various parliamentary groups. The minister said that "justified criticism" from industry and various special interest groups had been considered in her proposal.

Author: Ben Knight (dpa, dapd)
Editor: Sam Edmonds

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