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Short-time working or short time (German: Kurzarbeit) is a governmental unemployment insurance system in which private sector employees agree to or are forced to accept a reduction in working time and pay, with the state making up for all or part of the lost wages.
Several European countries operate short-time schemes to limit the impact of recessions on the economy and on employees. Their intent is to enable companies to avoid layoffs or bankruptcies during a recession because of the state's wage subsidies. Short-time programs have notably been used as an instrument against the COVID-19 recession in 2020.
In Austria, the introduction of short time requires a special arrangement between what are called the "social partners" of Austrian collective bargaining (which is to say, the Chamber of Commerce and the labour unions), who negotiate on behalf of the employer and affected staff the scope of the Kurzarbeit arrangement in terms of the staff covered, the maximum period of its application, the conditions for any lay-offs during the arrangement, and the scope of any professional training or re-training courses included.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the Czech Republic, the government of Czech Republic Andrej Babiš announced plans to partially subsidise salaries of employees on reduced work schedules, covering 50-70% of pay for 1, 2, or up to 4 days per week that employees are at home due to shocks to companies coming from pandemics or natural disasters. Employers have to cover health and social insurance for the days when workers are at home, and employees contribute by the partial reduction in their pay.
Temporarily laid-off workers receive “Kurzarbeitergeld” (or “short-work money”) from the Federal Employment Agency (BA), the agency that is also responsible for issuing unemployment benefit. The scheme promises them 60 per cent of their original pay.
In 2009, the German government had budgeted 5.1 billion euros on the program, which replaced some of the lost income of over 1.4 million workers. The program was favorably cited in a 2009 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report, which stated that it had saved nearly 500,000 jobs during the recession.[original research?] Besides helping to avoid mass layoffs, proponents of the program also cite its keeping skilled work groups together and avoiding the atrophy of their skills during extended layoffs, while critics have expressed concerns about its expense and that it might prop up non-viable firms.[original research?]
- Jakob Widner (2009). "Kurzarbeit: an Alternative to Lay-Offs". International Law Office. Archived from the original on 2009-12-16. Retrieved 2010-09-20.
- Czech PM Babis: new Kurzarbeit law should take effect from November Reuters, September 7, 2020.
- Guy Chazan in Berlin and Richard Milne (March 23, 2020), Kurzarbeit: a German export most of Europe wants to buy Financial Times.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2014-02-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Germany's 'Kurzarbeit' program a possible role model for other countries". German Information Centre. 2009. Archived from the original on 2010-01-30. Retrieved 2010-09-24.
- "Reduced hours save jobs, for now". German Information Centre. 2009. Archived from the original on 2010-09-08. Retrieved 2010-09-24.