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Social protection developments in Germany, Portugal, Switzerland and Estonia

30/07/2015

Four new Flash Reports prepared by the European Social policy Network (ESPN) are now available and provide information on the general statutory minimum wage in Germany, the extension of payment exemption for health user charges in Portugal, the creation of national programmes to tackle important problems related to infectious diseases in Switzerland and annual in-work benefit for low-income workers in Estonia.

  • Following the adoption of the Minimum Wage Act by the federal legislature, a general statutory minimum wage of €8.50/hour was introduced in Germany on 1 January 2015. The law can be described as the key labour-market reform of the current Grand Coalition. Half a year after the introduction of the statutory minimum wage, labour market data show the continuation of the positive labour market development. Even though the statutory minimum wage can be described as a resounding success, there are still a number of problems that should be addressed. Go to Flash Report on Germany.
  • The Portuguese government recently approved the extension of the payment exemption for health user charges to all children below the age of 18. This extension, effective since June 2015, is expected to reach approximately half a million children aged 13 to 17. It supposedly will facilitate the access of children to healthcare, thereby lowering health costs for households with children. Go to Flash Report on Portugal.
  • As of 2016, a new bill on epidemics will enter into force in Switzerland. It paves the way for the creation of national programmes to tackle important problems related to infectious diseases, such as antibiotic resistant bacteria and infections in hospitals. It also aims at improving cooperation between the federal and cantonal governments. Go to Flash Report on Switzerland.
  • In June 2015, the Estonian Parliament adopted legislative changes that implement an annual in-work benefit for low-income workers. The first submission of applications and the pay-out of benefits will be made in spring 2017. This new in-work benefit aims to raise living standards of low-paid workers while encouraging people to take up and declare a full time regular job. It also creates high marginal effective tax rates for low-paid workers and therefore, as a lump sum annual benefit omitting part-time workers, may not be the most cost-effective way to target in-work poverty. Go to Flash Report on Estonia.

More detailed information on these initiatives in the Flash Reports.