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Take responsibility for protecting your employees

Your expert for questions

Petra Raspels
Workforce, PwC Deutschland
Tel.: +49 211 981-7680
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Companies have a responsibility towards their staff

What’s important during the acute phase of the crisis: Protect the health of your employees and ensure business continuity

The order of the day is to take effective immediate action. Employees should be the focus - not only with regard to their health, but also when it comes to business continuity concerns. Questions abound: is it necessary to reduce working hours (“short-time” work or “Kurzarbeit”)? If so, do you know how high the costs will be and whether you want to supplement employees’ short-time working allowance? Is there already a company agreement on this? Have you already considered the possibility of deferring payments - for example, social security contributions or a possible liability for wage taxes? What changes in employment law can be expected in the short term? Is there a right to compensation or continued payment of wages in the event of quarantine? Have you informed your staff about important policies, such as the reimbursement of childcare costs? And is remote working already running smoothly or is there potential for improvement?

How you can stabilise your company: consider how market environments may be changing as you plan for regular operations

The journey to the "new normal" is difficult. Because after the crisis there will be no easy way back. That said, there are a number of factors that will help you successfully steer your company back into calmer waters. As one example, you may want to consider increasing liquidity by optimising the company pension scheme. It is also important to quickly identify which skills you now need in your workforce: have your staff already mastered these, or would it make sense to support them with upskilling programmes? The set-up of your HR department is important for this – it may need to be more flexible and you may want to adapt your company’s HR processes.

Why you should focus on strategy now: make decisions for future growth

Now it’s critical to look ahead – and not just over the short-term. That may include difficult or painful decisions, like letting go of staff. You should calculate related costs early on, for example by preparing social plans and lay-off procedures. Discussions with the works council will be important, for example to discuss possible compensation for lower social security benefits later. Be sure to draw on positive aspects of the current situation too, for example by strengthening virtual teaming over the long-term. If you are considering bringing production that was previously outsourced abroad back to Europe, that may also have an impact on your workforce, since you will be sending fewer employees on international assignments. The reverse also holds true: if you are now planning operations in new countries, you should consider international assignment issues in detail.

Current market and industry developments

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Getting through COVID-19 in three waves of response

Together we can overcome this difficult situation. We provide tailored services and support to help you navigate your organisation safely through the COVID-19 pandemic. What you will need: an understanding of short-term priorities and a long-term vision.

Mobilise

1. Short-term working and employment law

During these pandemic times, employers have special duties of care (in strict compliance with employee data protection), while employees are subject to an obligation to cooperate and mitigate losses. Staying up to date is a major challenge in the current crisis though. New regulations are being introduced almost on a weekly basis - for example concerning short-time work, but also on additional laws, regulations or service instructions. Some changes, particularly in the area of short-time work, also require the adoption or adaptation of internal company agreements and corresponding negotiations with trade unions and works councils.

Contact

Dr. Nicole Elert
Tel.: +49 211 981-4196
Email
 

Stephan Weber
Tel.: +49 711 25034-1750
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2. Income taxes and social security

The HR department can also help improve liquidity in the wake of the COVID 19 crisis. Common measures include the interest-free deferral of social security contributions and payroll taxes, payroll tax refunds or so-called "smart savings." These are tax and contribution-free conversions of salary or other employer benefit guarantees. There are also specific issues that need to be considered for employees working from home. Questions may arise about insurance coverage, or specific income tax issues – for example,in connection with private usage of IT equipment or on the taxation of company cars.

Contact

Iris Brandes
Tel.: +49 211 981 2419
Email
 

Stefan Sperandio
Tel.: +49 69 9585-5160
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3. Virtual leadership and remote working

The way we work together has changed radically throughout the crisis, raising many unfamiliar questions: What does teamwork look like in remote mode? How can "home skilling" be successful? How can coaching processes be redesigned to be virtual? What does virtual working mean for management and leadership tasks? How can management teams make the right strategic decisions and communicate these effectively? It is crucial to establish different ways of working as a new normal. It’s very important to consider psychological factors here as well.  While for some people virtual working is conducive to concentration and produces positive results, for others it is frightening or stressful. PwC supports companies and their employees during their journey into the world of virtual work.

Contact

Anja Sbanski
Tel.: +49 69 9585-1747
Email
 

Maria von Oettingen
Tel.: +49 69 9585-5804
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Stabilise

1. Upskilling

For many companies, the COVID-19 crisis is pushing digitalisation into high gear -- and with it, many topics that until recently were still considered part of the “future of work", to be addressed in the distant future.  Now employers are being challenged to  help their employees learn how to use agile working methods, digital technologies and improved methodologies. Appropriate upskilling opportunities are more important than ever. This includes ensuring that employees are able to quickly upgrade their qualifications, which places great demands on personnel departments and decision-makers. They need to further professionalise their strategic planning in order to systematically identify the new skills needed and develop suitable learning opportunities. At the end of the day, that often means supporting a robust process of far-reaching cultural change within the company.

Contact

Anja Sbanski
Tel.: +49 69 9585-1747
Email

Sebastian Holtze
Tel.: +49 201 438-1853
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2. Diagnosis of Core HR Processes and the Future of the HR Organisation

In times of economic uncertainty, HR needs to ensure effective processes, identify cost-cutting measures, and facilitate transparent communication, while re-prioritising core tasks. Rapid action is required, but it’s important to make decisions that are sustainable over the long term, beyond the acute crisis. The big opportunity now lies in modernising the HR function, renewing outdated models, or restructuring if necessary. Tool-supported analyses and diagnoses help to identify the parameters for success.

Contact

Till Lohmann
Tel.: +49 40 6378-8835
Email
 

Stephan Weber
Tel.: +49 711 25034-1750
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3. Pension Optimisation

In times when economies are under strain,  the optimisation of company pension plans can make a positive contribution to short-term liquidity. Withdrawal of liquid funds via an asset exchange in Contractual Trust Arrangements (CTA), dissolution of relief funds, insourcing of specially established "pensioner companies" or lending of certain direct insurance policies are just a few of examples of potential pension measures which can be taken to improve liquidity.

Contact

Jürgen Helfen
Tel.: +49 211 981-4362
Email
 

Martin Knappstein
Tel.: +49 621 40069-205
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Strategise

1. Global mobility

Border, office, and company closures, working from home,, short-time work and further quarantine measures have a significant short-term impact on global employee mobility. There will also be changes in the long term, such as the handling of foreign assignments and employee secondments. Cost-saving requirements, the need for flexibility and the further development of virtual work forms are also major contributors to these shifts. The HR function should critically review foreign assignments and the corresponding assignment guidelines, tax, employment law and social security compliance frameworks, and the impact of increased flexibility requirements and changes in the value chain.

Contact

Aline Kapp
Tel.: +49 69 9585-6469
Email
 

Gabi Dorner
Tel.: +49 69 9585-6437
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Contact us

Petra Raspels

Petra Raspels

Workforce, PwC Germany

Tel: +49 211 981-7680

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