The Parcel Merchandise Protection Act is intended to strengthen the labor law position of employees of mail order companies. The Federal Cabinet has approved the proposal of Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) in the morning.

The new law obliges mail order companies to pay social contributions if subcontractors fail to make these payments. Specifically: Anyone who accepts an order for parcel shipping and subcontracts to a subcontractor, liable for the payable social security contributions. If the subcontractor does not pay the contributions himself and if it is not possible to recover the payment, the main contractor must be responsible and pay.

This obligation is called subcontractor liability. In the construction industry and in the meat industry, the principle is already established and, as it formulated Minister of Labor Heil, also proven. Companies can only avoid this liability if their subcontractors have been specially checked in advance. Health insurance funds and employers' liability insurance associations can issue a health certificate if they have so far paid the social security contributions properly.

Because the development in parts of the parcel industry has long been no longer acceptable, a new legislation is necessary, said Heil. Working people, who often came from Central and Eastern Europe and speak little German, would be exploited. "We put a stop to this bad practice with the Paketboten-Schutz-Gesetz," the SPD politician continued.

Many shipping service providers outsource parts of their orders to subcontractors for capacity reasons. But again and again it comes to black money, social benefits and social security fraud at the expense of employees. According to trade union information, it mainly affects drivers from abroad - Ukrainians, Moldovans or Belorussians. According to information from the Federal Ministry of Labor, the result of a nationwide raid in February 2019 showed that every sixth verified employment relationship in the industry tended to be critical.

A "practical rules"?

Employers criticized Heils 'legislative proposals: "The need of the hour should no longer be bureaucracy, but less," said the chief executive of the Confederation of German Employers' Associations Steffen Kampeter to the editorial network Germany. Heils plans are "just an attempt to steal their responsibility with a bureaucratic but impractical set of rules".

SPD faction vice-president Katja Mast responded to this accusation and said that the law strengthens the honest providers in the industry. "Our goal is that parcel delivery at Christmas already falls under this law," she said, assuring a swift parliamentary procedure. The Bundestag still has to agree to the law.

In Germany, parcel deliverers deliver more than 3.5 billion parcels per year.