Companies should receive financial relief based on the laws on electricity and gas price brakes. However, the subsidies of over two million euros are only paid if the companies guarantee the preservation of jobs in return.
High energy costs are not only a problem for households, but also affect companies, especially energy-intensive industrial companies. The legislature then passed the Natural Gas Heat Price Brake Act (EWPBG) and the Electricity Price Brake Act (StromPBG). Both laws provide for the obligation to maintain one’s job against the granting of subsidies.
Curbs on energy prices: financial benefits and job security at the same time
The statutory provisions on price brakes are intended to relieve companies of the high costs of electricity, natural gas and heating. In this way, the competitiveness of companies should be ensured and at the same time jobs in companies should be preserved. If companies want to receive financial relief on the basis of the StromPBG and the EWPBG, the payment of financial resources above two million euros is linked to job retention (see Section 37 (1) StromPBG and Section 29 (1) EWPBG). In principle, employment guarantees can take place in the following two ways.
Job security through the conclusion of a company agreement or a collective agreement
A regulation to secure employment can be done by concluding a collective agreement or an employment contract valid until at least April 30, 2025. Negotiations with the relevant trade union or with a works council of the company must therefore be started here.
Job security thanks to the company’s written guarantee
A job security agreement through a collective agreement or a company agreement can be replaced by a written statement from the company. Declarations of the subjects involved in the negotiations on the reasons for which an employment contract or a collective agreement has not been concluded and declaration of the company that it undertakes to have a workforce at least by 30 April 2025 that is at least 90 percent of the labor force as of 1 January 2025 should be included here 2023 full-time equivalent jobs available.
Calculation of workforce in FTE
Full-time equivalents, or FTEs (Full Time Equivalents), are used to calculate the number of employees, in order to also take into account the constellations of part-time workers present in the company. When calculating full-time equivalents as of 1 January 2023, the concept of the labor force should be interpreted broadly. For example, the number of regularly employed fixed-term workers may also be included.
In the case of “affiliated companies”, the obligation to maintain jobs rests with the individual companies; even with a grant amount of more than two million euros, no group compensation takes place. The obligation to maintain jobs therefore only applies if an individual company exceeds the grant amount of two million euros.
Evidence of job retention
The obligation to provide proof of job retention is intended to ensure that job retention is also respected by companies benefiting from relief exceeding two million euros. If proof is not provided, the funding must be reduced and – if payments of more than two million euros have already been made – the excess amount must be reclaimed from the supervisory authority.
However, proof of job retention is only required if the company has submitted a self-declaration. In this case, the proof serves as a prerequisite for the payment of the already paid financing amounts. Subsidy payments already made are therefore subject to the condition of proof of fulfillment of the job security obligation. The law does not contain a time specification, but evidence should be provided within a reasonable time after 30 April 2025, but no later than 31 December 2025.
Curbs on energy prices: recovery of subsidies already paid
The audit authority should, at its discretion, recover all or part of the granted relief, which exceeds two million euros, if the company fails to meet its minimum obligation to secure jobs. For this purpose, the audit authority shall take particular account of the following principles:
The first thing to consider is how much the 90% limit has been exceeded. The amount of funding reimbursement received should match the percentage of the shortfall of the agreed or guaranteed number of full-time equivalent jobs to be received, but at least 20%. If the amount is more than 50 percent less, the full benefit amount must be recovered.
In the event of a complete cessation of business activity or its relocation abroad by 30 April 2025, a complaint will also be filed. In the case of business transfers and corporate transformations, the audit authority takes into account the extent to which full-time equivalents available from 1 January 2023 were retained by the legal successor until 30 April 2025.
No reimbursement will be made if the lack of guaranteed number of full-time equivalent jobs to be maintained is compensated by investments in transformation, climate and environmental protection and security of energy supply. This is only possible up to a maximum undercut of 50 percent. The investment amount is expected to help increase the company’s investment rate by at least 20 percent in the period from 2023 to 2026 compared to the period from 2019 to 2021.
End of year 2022/2023: Here you will find all articles on HR-relevant topics and changes.
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