Balancing children and work – despite Corona
As an energy expert, Ines Rutschmann addresses all the questions that consumers have about electricity and heating. She first reported on the electricity market in 2005 for the Leipziger Volkszeitung, where she also completed her basic journalism training. After that, she worked for Deutschlandfunk and the solar power magazine Photon, among others. Ines Rutschmann is a graduate engineer (FH) and holds a Master of Science degree in Energy Management.
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In this guide
Most students go back to school; most daycare centers also open regularly again. But the pandemic is not over yet. There are still rules in dealing with Corona at schools. Whole classes or Kita groups can be closed. What you need to know? And when is there compensation if you do have to care for your children at home?
What applies to schools and daycare centers in Corona times??
The Population Protection Act came into force on 1. July expired. This means that there are again no uniform nationwide rules as to when children should go to school and when they should stay at home.
The federal states thus regulate themselves when and how schools and daycare centers open. On the websites of the responsible ministries or senate administrations for families as well as on the websites of the youth welfare offices you can find the rules in your federal state. Because there is still a risk that a school or daycare center will close, at least temporarily, or quarantine the children of an entire class or daycare group if individual children, teachers or caregivers have become infected with Covid-19.
Mandatory masks and rapid tests
In many states, mandatory masking in classrooms was reintroduced during the fall – because more people were again infected with the coronavirus in a county and the so-called incidence level exceeded a certain level.
Rapid tests have been available for students since spring 2021. Children and adolescents from general and vocational schools are allowed to take part in attendance classes if they take recognized tests and these are negative. Teachers must also be tested. How often per week varies from state to state.
Dealing with sick children
To prevent the virus from spreading so easily, schools and daycare centers are urged to give students and daycare children If certain symptoms of illness are present, send your child home to send. However, the states define this differently:
- dry cough,
- Fever from 38 degrees,
- Disturbance or temporary loss of the sense of taste or smell that is not accompanied by a cold,
- sore throat or earache.
If your child has at least one of these symptoms, you should inform the school or daycare center and keep your child at home. In the case of a mere cold, the instructions for action of the federal states do not provide for the child to stay at home.
If your child shows symptoms, a visit to the doctor has several advantages for you: The doctor can clarify whether your child has Covid-19 and whether you and your environment could also be infected. In addition, the doctor can write the child off sick and you can claim children’s sick pay if you stay at home and your child is under twelve years old.
If an antigen test is positive, you should inform the health department and have a PCR test done. The pediatrician can also perform this test and bill it to the health insurance fund. Or the health office organizes it or gives you a voucher for a test so that you do not have to pay for it.
If the antigen test was carried out at the daycare center or school, the facility will notify you and ask you to pick up your child. If your child has been tested at a testing center, you must inform the daycare center or school of the positive result. Your child must go into quarantine if the test result is positive – he or she must stay at home and is not allowed to meet friends. If the PCR test is negative, the quarantine usually ends after five days. If the doctor confirms that your child has the virus, your child will remain in quarantine – usually for a total of 14 days if he or she does not show any symptoms after that time. The health office decides on a case-by-case basis how long it will last.
child sickness benefit
Each parent is entitled to a total of 30 days of child sickness benefit per child in 2021 and 2022 (§ 45 Para. 2a SGB V). Single parent can 60 days Receiving child sickness benefit. If you have more than two children, however, the entitlement to sick pay for children is limited: To a total of 65 days per parent or 130 days for single parents.
If the children’s sick days have been used up, you will have to take additional sick days paid or unpaid leave take or use up your overtime. Or you have the strength and the possibility to work in your home office parallel to childcare.
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What if children cannot go to daycare or school??
During the pandemic, you may have to organize your everyday life differently because your child cannot go to school or daycare. For example, if another child in the group or class is infected with Corona and your child has to go into quarantine because of it.
In all cases you are allowed to stay at home to take care of your child if you think it is necessary and no one else can take care of it (§ 275 para. 3 BGB). After all, you have to fulfill your supervisory duties. You have to assess yourself whether your twelve year old child can stay alone for eight hours. For boys and girls up to eight years of age, the Federal Court of Justice considers parents to have a duty to look after them on a regular basis.
It is important, however, that you inform your superiors if you have to stay at home with your children from now on. If you don’t show up at work and don’t tell us why you are not coming, you are in gross violation of your employment contract. You risk a warning.
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How are parents financially protected?
If your child is sick or if you have to take care of your healthy child because he or she is temporarily not allowed to go to school or daycare, and you cannot work because of this, you are entitled to certain replacement payments.
child sickness benefit for a healthy child
Until 19. March 2022 you can also receive child sickness benefit if you have to look after your child at home – even if he or she is not ill.
In 2021 and 2022, the entitlement period for children’s sick pay is 30 days per parent; for single parents 60 days. If you have more than two children, you can receive a maximum of 65 days of children’s sick pay; single parents up to 130 days.
Children’s sickness benefit is up to 90 percent of your net salary (§ 45 SGB V), up to a maximum of 112.88 euros per day. If you want to claim it, the following conditions must be met:
- You are employed.
- You, i.e. you and your child, are both covered by statutory health insurance.
- Your child is under twelve years of age or is disabled and dependent on help.
- No other person in the household is available to take care of the child, such as grandparents or your partner who is currently on parental leave.
- If the child is healthy: The daycare center, school or childcare facility must certify that they are only open on a limited basis or are closed completely due to the Corona pandemic (this regulation is limited until 19. March 2022)
- If the child is sick: the pediatrician certifies that the child is sick.
If these requirements are met, you submit the certificate from the daycare center, school or pediatrician to the health insurance fund and apply for children’s sick pay. You can receive the money for several days at a time, but also for individual days. You should also inform your employer immediately about the sick leave, so that he releases you from work. You can also submit proof that you are receiving or have received child sickness benefit at a later date.
Compensation from the state
If it is not possible for you to do your work at home and you therefore suffer a loss of earnings, the state can help. Since March 2020, there is a temporary right to compensation (§ 56 para. 1a IfSG): You will receive 67 percent of your net income. A maximum of 2.016 Euro per month. This support is available for single parents up to for 20 weeks, for couples it is ten weeks per partner.
The following requirements must be met:
- You have at least one Child under twelve.
- The health department has the school or Kita of your child closed or the obligation to be present at school is waived. Or your child has to go to Quarantine.
- You are not entitled to emergency care for your child or another possibility of care by a family member and must therefore care for him or her yourself at home.
- You cannot work and suffer a loss of earnings.
- You do not receive short-time allowance.
If your child is older than twelve years, but needs help at home due to a disability, you can also receive the wage replacement.
The compensation payment does not apply during regular vacation periods, when school, day care center or other care facility is closed anyway. But it applies if you had applied for an after-school care place and the after-school care is now cancelled due to corona or if you are Vacations extended due to corona be made – but then only for the days by which the vacation is extended.
Also parents of disabled children of full age can receive wage replacement if they care for an adult son or daughter. If, for example, the workshop for the disabled or another care facility for your son or daughter closes because of Corona, you are entitled to wage replacement. In the regular company vacations or other non-corona-related closing times of the facility, there is no entitlement to wage replacement.
How to apply for childcare compensation
Are you employed, contact your Employers, if you want to take advantage of the wage replacement. He should apply for the benefit and pays you the money. Your employer can get the amount back from the respective state authority, if it approves the substitute payment. Self-employed persons apply the payment yourself.
Employers and self-employed persons in most federal states can apply for compensation via the website ifsg-online.en a Compensation for loss of earnings apply. This works online, but often also works with a printed form. Only Thuringia and North Rhine-Westphalia accept applications online only. Bavaria, Berlin, Hamburg and Saxony offer their own forms. If a school, daycare center, or childcare facility closes or extends its vacation, you must apply retroactively when the facility is back in regular session.
You do not have to take the wage replacement in one go, but can also take it on individual days – for example, if your child is always looked after on Tuesdays and Thursdays and is at home the other three days of the week.
Care in the home office is not always reasonable
Is it possible for you to work in the Home office to work, you receive only under special circumstances Money from the state – if it is unreasonable for you to look after your children and work at the same time, for example because you have meetings at fixed times when you cannot look after your children. In any case, wait to see whether an application for wage replacement is approved before you interrupt your professional activity. Or – if possible – take leave until then.
The competent authority of a federal state decides on a case-by-case basis whether you are entitled to the allowance. Bavaria, for example, has determined that it is not reasonable to work from home if you have two small children to care for at the same time. Nevertheless, there are general principles for the decision, which the Bun-des-ge-sund-heits-mi-ni-ste-ri-um has compiled. For example, your employer can show that you need to be in the office regularly for certain procedures – the state grants companies this freedom.
Full salary only if the employment contract is fulfilled
If you want to continue to receive your full salary although you have to look after your children, you should look for a solution with your employer. So ask for example about home office. If you have flextime, offer to work at times when your partner is watching the children – for example, in the evening. If neither of these works, you can reduce overtime. If your employment contract allows you to work on Saturdays, ask your employer if he agrees to it. What your employer can and cannot demand of you is explained in our guide to employment law in the Corona crisis.
How the state helps families with low income?
Short-time work, child sickness benefit and wage replacement will help you through this difficult time. Nevertheless: You earn less with it. The Loss of income but you may be able to compensate.
First check whether you are entitled to a child benefit supplement. The condition is that you earn at least 900 euros (gross) as a couple or 600 euros (gross) as a single parent and that you do not have significant assets. Whether and how much supplement you get, depends not only on your earnings, but also on your rent. If you live in your own home, enter your housing costs, for example, property tax or the repayments for the house loan. With the KiZ-Lotsen of the Federal Employment Agency you can find out whether you have a chance of receiving the child supplement. You can find the application forms online, but you must print them out, sign them, and submit them to the family benefits office.
For the claim to child allowance, the average Income of the last six months relevant before the application (§ 20 Abs. 5ff. BKGG). You can also apply for housing benefit. For this, the authorities use the income of the past six months as a basis.
If you can’t make ends meet even with the child benefit supplement and housing allowance, you can help with living expenses apply for (§ 141 SGB XII). The basic income support can cover the costs for rent and heating. Insignificant assets are not taken into account, if you file an application by 31. March 2022. The office will calculate with your actual costs for rent and heating – no matter if they seem reasonable or not. You can apply at the job center. This is also possible online. Child supplement and housing allowance do not apply if you receive basic income support.
If you have received basic benefits in May 2021, you should also submit a "Corona supplement" in amount from 150 Euro have received. Every recipient is entitled to the supplement, including other members of your family. If your child can not go to kindergarten or school, the communal meal in the facilities is of course also omitted. The arising costs for an alternative Lunch for your children – also for a delivery service – the job center reimburses you until the end of 2021, as it usually carries the meal money in the facilities.
Regardless of your income, in 2020 and 2021, the state will grant a Child benefit paid, in the amount of 300 Euro and of 150 Euro per child. You can find out more about this in our guides to child benefit and tax benefits for parents.
Working in a home office with a child – how can it work??
Working in a home office with a child is a challenge. It probably only works in intervals for many, but it works halay for most. Every day, think about what you want to play, do, learn, and cook with your children and get your offspring in the mood for it: Nothing helps against emerging boredom as much as the knowledge that parents regularly take time and what is then planned concretely. For example, you can play board and card games, read books and do puzzles, hide and seek in the apartment or play theater. For school children, time should also be reserved for explaining schoolwork. Turning on movies and series can keep most children occupied for a while, but should not be a permanent solution.
Meeting other kids is important too – the current Corona restrictions at least allow your child to meet with someone else. It is possible that you apply you live together with other parents and you take turns caring for the children. So you create free space for each other to work. But try to always cooperate with the same parents, if possible, to keep contacts with others low.
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