Germany's cabinet has approved a package of expanded social and financial benefits for soldiers. Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen hopes the benefits will make military service more attractive to young people.
The benefits package approved by Germany's cabinet on Wednesday aims to create greater workplace flexibility and increase financial incentives for professional soldiers, part of a broader effort to fill a recruiting gap created by the decision to end conscription three years ago.
Germany's military, the Bundeswehr, will be allowed to offer pay bonuses to service members for the first time. The bonus would equal 20 percent of a soldier's first income level, distributed over the course of four years. An aircraft mechanic, for example, would receive 440 euros a month or a one-time payment of 21,100 euros.
The package gives soldiers a seven percent pay raise as of November 2014. In addition, the differential for particularly difficult jobs will increase by up to 40 percent. Some 22,000 soldiers and 500 civilian employees stand to benefit from the latter increase.
For the first time, the military will also introduce a legally mandated 41-hour work week. In addition, service members will also be able to apply to work part-time without restrictions. Previously, this was only allowed for soldiers with children younger than 18 or to take care of a sick or elderly family member.
The measures still need to be approved by Germany's parliament, the Bundestag.
In 2011, Germany ended military conscription, creating an all-volunteer army in its stead. But the Bundeswehr has faced difficulty finding enough recruits to fill positions since the end of mandatory military service.
In response, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has sought to make the military more competitive with private sector employers by offering more flexibility and a greater array of benefits to soldiers.
slk/se (AFP, dpa)