Berlin News in English: October 15-21

Welcome to the latest edition of MyExpatCommunity news feature for Berlin! Our goal is to provide you with the most important news of the last two weeks from the German capital – so you can stay up to date.

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1. Green Party likely to continue election boom in Hessen

After doubling their numbers in Bavaria last week, predictions for the Green Party gaining votes in the state parliament election in Hessen seem to be in their favor too. According to a poll conducted by Infratest Dimap , the Green Party will reach 20% of the votes, closing in on the SPD who has 21%, and the CDU with 26%. The research group Wahlen even sees them coming into second place with 22%

Unlike Bavaria, this election will put the Green Party in an unavoidable protagonist position in forming the next local government. The party will have the possibility of choosing from several coalition options like being the junior partner or even leading the government. Currently, Hessen is governed by a CDU-Greens coalition – a majority they may lose if the election predictions are correct. A possible third coalition partner would be the FDP, who will reach between 8-9%.

The Green Party has already said that they are open to continue working under CDU leadership. Their government has had a mostly conflict-free run so far.

Source: Die Zeit

2. Part-time work receives legal temporary status

Starting 2019, millions of employees in Germany will receive the right to requesting temporary part-time employment. The part-time working hours can only be for 1-5 years. Aftwards the employees have the legal option to return into full-time mode. The German parliament voted for this law on Thursday, with political parties CDU and SPD voting in favour.

This particular law is subject to several conditions: The temporary part-time bridging into full-time is only eligible to companies with at least 45 employees. Additionally, the employee in question must also have been employed by the company for at least half a year. Employers with 46-200 employees have the right to grant this status to only 1 out of 15 employees. During the time period the employees are working under the new contract, they cannot reduce or increase their working hours.

Also, employees who are currently working part-time and want to increase their hours can ask for proof from their employer that there is currently no full-time job available. Changes to work hours should only be negotiated in cooperation with the works council.

The law also changes the standards for on-call work -the number of hours cannot exceed 25% of the regular weekly minimum work hours. If no minimum work hours are set in the contract, the law automatically calculates to a 20-hour week.

Source: Berliner Morgenpost

3. Ban on vehicles in Berlin’s streets in 2019

Berlin has lost the emission lawsuit issued by the German Environmental Aid (DUH – Deutschen Umwelthilfe). This forces the city senate to create a new clean air program until March 2019 and issue a ban on vehicles at 11 different road sections. Berlin’s traffic senator Regine Günther is pushing for a blue sticker for Diesel cars, which should be making it easier to control which Diesel vehicles are driving in the city. Only Diesel vessels with the Euro pollution norm 6 and petrol vessels with the Euro pollution norm 3-6 are allowed to receive a blue sticker.

The authorities will most likely implement the ban on vehicles within a yet undefined transition period. Exceptions would be vehicles from nursing services, ambulances and food transports. Authority vehicles are still not on the latest emission standard and there are too few E-cars available to make a quick transition in time.

Source: Berliner Zeitung

4. Name plates on doors possible data security breach

Berlin is currently facing the question if name plates of their tenants on doors will become a legal problem in the near future. The giving reason comes from a situation in Vienna, Austria, in which a tenant sued for the lack of data security in accordance with the DSGVO (European Data Protection Directive) and won. Wiener Wohnen and the jurisdiction came to the conclusion that showing names on names plates was breaching the DSGVO. This resulted in 220,000 tenants losing their name plate next to their door bell. The names will be replaced with the apartment number instead.

The municipalities and property companies in Berlin have been eyeing the development of the Austrian lawsuit very closely. If a similar verdict would be reached in the Berlin, around 300,000 name plates would have to be removed. Also, building owners may need to pay a fine.

Currently there are no immediate plans to change anything, but property companies are still waiting for a decision by the government to see if the Viennese housing authorities and their legal experts have interpreted the DSGVO law correctly.

Chances are high that a similar verdict like in Vienna would not hold in Berlin. Experts believe that DSGVO breaches only concern automatic data identification and data capture, like bar codes, magnetic stripes, smart cards and voice recognition and not name plates. They do however, recommend that future tenants should still be given a choice by the landlord for a name plate or not.

Source: Berliner Zeitung

5. No S-Bahn transport in Eastern Berlin

Starting Friday, the 18th of October, the S5, S7 and S75 trains will not be travelling through Eastern Berlin between Lichtenberg and stops Wuhletal, Ahrensfelde, and Wartenberg. The closing will be effective until the 25th of October.

The S-Bahn company has announced the reason for the closing is for construction work during the autumn holidays as. The company will provide spare buses for the 100,000 affected passengers, and also recommends people to use the U5 instead.

Source: Berliner Morgenpost

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