Coronavirus: Help, information and contact details for businesses and workers in Bremen
Links, contact details and information on the help available from the state of Bremen and the federal government for companies that are in financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
If you are a business owner or freelancer looking for information about support for businesses, you will find advice here on all the support available, and how to access it.
Please note: These pages give you a rough overview of possible programs, help and contacts. Since the situation is constantly changing, we ask you to contact the specific addresses given to you below.
1. Assess your own liquidity and financial position (How much cash do you have in your bank account? What does your cash flow look like? What reserves do you have and how long will they last?)
2. Talk to your suppliers and see if you can arrange payment in instalments
3. Talk to your customers and, if possible, agree advance payments and payment in instalments
4. Talk to your landlord to see if they will agree to reduced or deferred payments
5. Talk to your bank (new borrowing backed by KfW, BAB or the Bremen guarantee bank, increased borrowing limit or repayment deferral)
6. Ask the tax office and social insurance provider about deferred payments (see below)
7. Ask the tax office whether advance tax payments may be adjusted; make an application
8. Review planned capital expenditure and consider postponing
9. Consider short-time working as an alternative
- Tax relief/tax issues: Bremen tax office (Finanzamt Bremen) email@example.com Bremerhaven tax office (Finanzamt Bremerhaven) firstname.lastname@example.org
- Short-time working support: Bremen employment agency (Agentur für Arbeit Bremen) Bremen-Bremerhaven@arbeitsagentur.de
- General business questions, foreign trade, training: Bremen chamber of commerce (Handelskammer Bremen) +49 (0)421 3637 241
The contact persons for various queries on related issues are to be found on the homepage of the chamber of commerce
- Skilled trades: Bremen chamber of skilled trades (Handwerkskammer Bremen)
- Health issues: Federal Ministry of Health +49 (0)30 3464 65100
- Questions for the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy +49 (0)30 18615 1515
- Childcare questions: Senator for Children and Education+49 (0)421 361 10100
- Special dispensations for the export of protective equipment +49 (0)6196 908 1444
- Employee questions: Bremen chamber of employees (Arbeitnehmerkammer) email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org (Bremerhaven)
Relevant information is also provided by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs
- Reducing or suspending prepayments of income tax or corporation tax (application required)
- Interest-free deferral of tax payments when they fall due
- Waiving late payment penalties
- Not taking enforcement action on debts
If you have any queries regarding the above points, please contact your tax office on the following numbers:
- Bremen tax office: Tel. +49 (0)421 361 90909 and +49 (0)421 361 95096
- Bremerhaven tax office: Tel. +49 (0)471 596 99000
The tax offices can also be contacted at these dedicated email addresses:
- Bremen tax office: email@example.com
- Bremerhaven tax office: firstname.lastname@example.org
- State finance office (Landeshauptkasse): email@example.com
The following form can be used for applications to reduce or defer tax prepayments: http://www.bayreuth.ihk.de/blueprint/servlet/resource/blob/4735300/455be56d8a66f4196e07266b654d7b95/vordruck-steuererleichterungen-aufgrund-coronavirus-data.pdf Deferral of social security contributions The "GKV-Spitzenverband der Krankenkassen" has recommended all statutory health insurance funds to temporarily facilitate the deferral of social security contributions. Deferral of contributions under the facilitated conditions should in principle be possible once all other measures from the various aid packages and support measures of the Federal Government have been exhausted. A application should be submitted informally directly to your respective health insurance fund with reference to the emergency situation caused by the Corona crisis and Section 76 of the German Social Code, Book IV (§ 76 SGB IV). For all questions and applications, please contact your respective social insurance agency.
Workers keep their jobs and employers reduce their wage bill. Companies hold onto their experienced staff even when business is slack. Conditions for receiving short-time-working support
There are a few conditions that have to be met. Companies can apply for short-time working if, as a result of economic circumstances beyond their control such as supply shortages for parts required in production or other unavoidable events such as floods or coronavirus:
- they temporarily suffer financial difficulties, they consequently do not have enough work for all their employees,
- and at least 10 per cent of the company’s employees are losing at least 10 per cent of their salary.
The new provisions will enable more companies to use short-time working. Previously, at least one third of the employees in the company had to be affected by a loss of work and wages. Now, the support will be available if 10 per cent of employees are affected. In addition, the Federal Employment Agency will also reimburse social insurance contributions in full. Employees remain registered for social insurance even when on short-time working. In the past, the employer had to cover these costs in full itself. Another change is that contract staff will now also be eligible for short-time-working support. Conditions for short-time-working support are ‘financial circumstances’ and ‘unavoidable events’. What does that mean?
The law specifies that companies can only claim short-time-working support in an emergency, not to cover normal operating risks. Financial circumstances refer to influences that are beyond the control of the business. In the context of the coronavirus crisis, financial circumstances may apply for example if supplies of parts cease, no alternatives are available and production lines come to a standstill. Then there are the ‘unavoidable events’. These include floods, for example, and also orders issued by health authorities. Applying for short-time-working support
Companies need to contact the Federal Employment Agency and explain their circumstances. If the conditions for short-time-working support are met, the company notifies the agency in writing. Businesses within the hotel, hospitality, restaurant and events industries can also apply for short-time working support. Both the notification of short-time working and the submission of the application can be done online if the employer is registered with the Federal Employment Agency: www.arbeitsagentur.de/kurzarbeit If you wish to apply for short-time-working support, you need the following forms. These can be downloaded using the links below (german):
The company must submit various documents to the Federal Employment Agency in order to establish that it is eligible for short-term-working support. These include the agreement on the introduction of short-time working with the works council or the employees. Employers should also submit the notices of termination pending a change of contract (Änderungskündigung), where applicable. Duration of the short-time-working support
Short-time-working support is available for up to twelve months, but depends on the individual case. Amount of short-term-working support
Short-time working-support is equivalent to 60 per cent of the employee’s usual net pay. If employees have entered at least 0.5 children on their wage-tax card, the rate is 67 per cent. Is the support provided by the Federal Employment Agency enough to weather a severe economic crisis?
The Federal Employment Agency is well prepared for a possible severe crisis. It has reserves of €26 billion to fall back on if required. Information from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs Advice and additional information for employers
- Please use email, if possible: Bremen Task Force
- Bremen employment agency hotline: +49 (0)421 178 2535
- The local employment agency is responsible for the application: https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/vor-ort/bremen-bremerhaven/unternehmen
The Bremen chamber of commerce will remain available to issue and accept international trade documents. In the event of closures, reciprocal support arrangements have been made with neighbouring chambers. Hotline for international trade queries:
- The chamber of commerce has set up a hotline for companies that have questions about the effects of coronavirus on international supply chains or transport. Hotline: +49 (0)421 3637 241.
- The chamber of commerce keeps its members informed about the situation in the key export markets and the priorities being set in Brussels, and also provides strategic advice.
If self-employed people have to go into quarantine, they can claim for loss of earnings under the law on the prevention and combating of infectious diseases. The payment is based on the profit reported in the tax assessment notice for the previous year. The following bodies are responsible for applications for financial support:
- Bremen: Regulatory agency (Ordnungsamt): firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ports in Bremen: The Bremen Port Authority Office: email@example.com
- Bremerhaven: Bremerhaven municipal administration: Stadtverwaltung@magistrat.bremerhaven.de