When we identify the global economic crisis with the years from 2008 to 2011 and ask for the impact of this crisis upon the German labour and social security law, we learn that changes in law were rather modest. The reason for this is that in Germany a big reform package was put into practice much earlier in the years 2003-2005. These farreaching reforms (often referred to as Hartzreforms or Agenda 2010) aimed mainly at the creation of a suitable legal framework for the labour market in order to improve a disastrous situation of the economy. As far as labour law was concerned legal barriers for Temporary Agency Work were removed, so-called minor employment was stimulated and the exemption of small enterprises (up to 10 employees) from the Act on dismissals was provided for. In the arena of social security the reduction of ancillary labour costs (social security contributions) had priority, realized by interventions into health and pension insurance to the detriment of employees. The most far-reaching step was the reform of unemployment benefits. Unemployment insurance was maintained (with conditions for claims aggravated) but the second pillar of the scheme was abolished and instead a system introduced along the lines of social assistance which should motivate people to accept low-paid jobs. And the extension of the short-time work scheme was very effective. The success of all these reforms is out of question if the yardstick is the employment rate. The flipside of these developments is the significant decline of the salary level for many workers. A broad majority of the political class did no longer accept that incomes from full-time jobs did not suffice to earn a living. As a consequence minimum wages in vulnerable sectors of industry and services were introduced in the middle of the economic crisis. These measures may have a mitigating effect for people concerned, but the problem of the extremely unequal distribution of income and wealth remains on the political agenda.
Keywords: Temporary agency work; Law of dismissal; Short-time work; Reduction of ancillary wage costs; Reform of unemployment benefits; Minimum wages.