Berlin (dpa) – The expansion of the childhood sickness benefit this year is a foregone conclusion. After the Bundestag, the Bundesrat finally approved the plans in a special session on Monday.
Parents who have to take time off work due to corona-related restrictions in daycare centers and schools, should also be able to take advantage of the so-called childhood sickness days. The number of sick days per parent will also be doubled from 10 to 20. Single parents will receive 40 days instead of the usual 20.
According to the Federal Council resolution, the law could enter into force soon after it was signed by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and apply retroactively from January 5. “We give very specific help to many families,” said the chairman of the prime minister’s conference, the Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller (SPD). The scheme relieves them. The pandemic is a major burden for families with young children and single parents.
By extending the days of childhood sickness, at least those with statutory health insurance – the scheme does not apply to those with private health insurance – accept a not so great loss of income. The childhood sickness benefit amounts to 90 percent of the net salary. Statutory health insurance usually pays if parents cannot go to work due to the care of a sick child under the age of 12. This applies above this age limit for children with a disability.
Sickness benefits should now also be available when schools and day care centers are limited. This also applies if emergency care is provided or if only a recommendation has been made to care for the children at home. A simple certificate from the school or daycare center should be enough to make a claim with the health care provider. The fund concerned takes care of the details itself, even those who could theoretically work from home can apply for a childhood sickness benefit.
The Deputy Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Joachim Stamp (FDP), criticized the Federal Council for exempting private policyholders from the regulation. Civil servants, self-employed people and freelancers left empty-handed. He is extremely critical of that, Stamp said, calling on the federal government to amend on this point.
For statutory health insurance, the increase in the number of sick days for children is expected to lead to hundreds of millions of extra costs. The costs are offset by higher subsidies from the federal government to health insurers, an initial subsidy of 300 million euros should flow by April 1.
Since mid-December, most of the more than 40,000 schools and nearly 58,000 daycare centers in Germany have either been completely closed and only emergency care is provided, or compulsory attendance has been suspended and parents are asked to leave their offspring at home. There are exceptions for graduating classes that are about to take the exams.