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In this Blog we write about topics from the Workplace Law and HR world: We discuss important court decisions and planned legislations, give practical tips and share with you experiences from our daily working life…

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Your PWWL editorial team

Christine Wahlig
Attorney at law
Editorial Management

Alice Tanke
Marketing Manager


“Corona-Bonus” and workplace law


The Corona pandemic is forcing society to enormous efforts, also at the workplace. For example, the pandemic has left entire businesses empty overnight as employees were sent home and allowed to work from home. This not only created major challenges for numerous employers. The impact on employees is also not negligible. At the beginning of the pandemic, some employees may have been delighted with their newfound flexibility, but many quickly became disillusioned, because working in the office or on the store floor also means meeting social contacts, variety in everyday life and exercise. All of this is missing due to working in a home office. And in general, the pandemic also demands strength and stamina from many employees.

“Corona Bonus”

Against this background, it was all the more gratifying that the legislator created an option for employers in Section 3 No. 11a of the German Income Tax Act (“EStG”) to pay employees a so-called “corona bonus” as a form of support and/or recognition for their efforts, which can at least provide some financial relief. Section 3 No. 11a of the EstG takes its place alongside the special provision for short-time allowances in Section 3 No. 28a of the EStG and allows employers until June 30, 2021 to grant its employees tax-free allowances and support up to an amount of 1,500 euros in addition to the wages owed anyway.


The advantages of the “corona bonuses” are obvious. Since the allowances are tax-free as allowances up to an amount of 1,500 euros, are not subject to the progression proviso and are also not subject to social security contributions due to Section 1 (1) Sentence 1 No. 1 of the Social Security Remuneration Ordinance (“SvEV”), the beneficiary employee receives 100% net of gross. The employer also has no additional costs. No wage costs are incurred.

What are the specific requirements?

The following requirements must be observed when granting the “Corona Bonus”:

  • The bonus must be paid in the period from March 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.
  • A maximum of 1,500 euros may be granted per employee. The payment may be granted in cash or in kind.
  • The bonus must be paid in addition to the salary owed anyway (no deferred compensation). This means that commissions, bonuses, etc. that have already been contractually agreed do not fall under the tax and social security benefits.
  • There are no restrictions on sectors or employee groups: the Corona Bonus can also be granted in full to mini-jobbers, part-time employees and, under certain conditions, shareholder-managers.

What do employers have to bear in mind?

The tax-free allowance or support payment must be recorded in the payroll account of the respective employee. However, it is not to be shown in the wage tax statement. It is also not required to be stated in the employee’s income tax return.

The principle of equal treatment must be observed. If the bonus is granted collectively, employees belonging to the group may not be excluded without justification. Also, when benefits are granted, as is customary with one-time special payments, reference should be made to the one-time nature and voluntary nature of the benefit.

And of course, the co-determination rights of the works council must be observed here as well, in particular how the “corona bonuses” are to be distributed within the framework set by the employer.

Conclusion “Corona bonuses” can be an excellent means of employee recognition and appreciation. However, if you want to take advantage of them, you need to be quick and have the bonuses paid to your employees by the end of June 2021 at the latest. Should you wish to take advantage of this opportunity, we will be happy to provide you with advice and support during the implementation…

Dr. Tobias Brors, LL.M. (Huddersfield)

Tobias Brors specializes in data protection law, restructurings, digitization projects, negotiations with works councils, litigation and representation in conciliation proceedings.

Dr. Sebastian Krumnack, LL.M.

Sebastian Krumnack specializes in data protection, drafting of employment contracts and the distinction of employees and self-employed workers with respect to employment law.

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