How renting technology in Germany can save you money

Dealing with old tablets, laptops, computer mice and chargers that you don’t know what to do with? You’re not alone - across Germany and Austria, hundreds of thousands of expats carry the accumulated ‘tech junk’ of the last few years with them.

How renting technology in Germany can save you money
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Together with tech subscription company Grover, we look at how you can break the ‘tech junk’ cycle and still enjoy all of the gadgets you want.

Whatever your interests, whatever you do, we’re surrounded by technology. Whether it’s an interest in photography, gaming or flying a drone, that technology accumulates, as gadgets become obsolete. That’s not including the cables, chargers and other bits of kit that come with any tech purchase, as well the innumerable boxes, bags and wrapping!

Ready to use technology in a more mindful way? Rent for three months and receive 90% your first month by using the discount code THELOCAL90 on the German or Austrian site

A load of old junk

It’s not like you can simply throw them away either. Germany and Austria both have very particular regulations when it comes to the disposal of electronic waste, as many of the materials used are only recyclable under certain conditions, or pose an environmental hazard, such as rechargeable batteries. The German Umwelt Bundesamt, or Federal Environmental Office has estimated that each of us produces around nine and a half kilograms of ‘tech waste’ each year, and this deadweight just sits there and accumulates dust, taking up space around us and not giving us the satisfaction it could.

You could donate these goods to charitable organizations, but most of the time, they don’t have the need for such obsolete technology and you would only be shifting the burden to someone else. You could sell your old gadgets via an internet site like Ebay Kleinanzeigen, but this can often cost you more money than you would realistically make, when you factor in all the steps needed to list an item and make a sale.

Stay up to date and reduce ‘tech waste’ – rent for three months and receive 90% off your first month by using the discount code THELOCAL90. Click here if you’re in Germany, or here if you’re in Austria

Photo: Grover

Better living through (flexible) technology

Keen to clear your ‘tech junk’ drawer and find a way to enjoy all the different technology you want? This is what makes Grover such an exciting arrival on the scene. The German startup from Berlin has introduced flexible renting of technology across Germany and Austria, with over one hundred fifty thousand active subscriptions running on the platform thus far and growing. In fact, renting through Grover has been introduced at Saturn and Mediamarkt branches across Germany.

For a reasonable payment each month, you can choose to rent a phone, laptop, gaming console or other gadget. At the end of your chosen rental plan, you can either opt to send it back for an upgrade, a different product or you can buy it outright, making it your own forever.

This flexible renting model has significant benefits for users, and especially international expats. Renting on a per month basis often works out cheaper than buying a device outright that you’ll inevitably stop using at some point, and means that a device can be returned when you choose to go home, rather than take something that may not work or take up space in your luggage.

Renting and usage-based consumption are also mindful and far-sighted financial choices that allow us all to keep up to date with our preferred technology, and to stop paying for that technology when we no longer use it. This helps prevent impulse buys that leave us out of pocket and lugging around yet more useless cables and batteries.

Want to try out some more tech? Don’t buy and saddle yourself with more ‘tech waste’. Rent flexibly through Grover and save money and space. Use voucher code THELOCAL90 to receive 90% off your first month, when you rent for three months on either the German or Austrian sites. 

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Elternteilzeit: How parents in Austria can change or cut their working hours

Parents in Austria have generous parental leave they can take, but many people don't know they are also entitled to change their work hours after having a baby.

Elternteilzeit: How parents in Austria can change or cut their working hours

As the demands of modern parenting continue to evolve, Austria’s “Elternteilzeit,” or parental part-time work right, has become an increasingly important tool for working parents seeking a better work-life balance. 

However, many people either don’t know about this right or get confused about the specific rules and do not take advantage of this possibility. 

This legal provision allows parents of young children to temporarily reduce their working hours while maintaining job security and social benefits. It also allows them to simply change their work hours, such as start and end time, without reducing them if changes will better suit kindergarten opening hours, for example. Or, they can do both: reduce their working hours and change their schedules.

Under Austrian law, parents of children up to eight are entitled to Elternteilzeit. This right applies to both mothers and fathers and can be taken independently or consecutively. However, it’s important to note that wages are adjusted accordingly.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What you need to know about parental leave in Austria

Who is entitled?

If you are a mother or father working in a company with more than 20 employees, you have the right to reduce or rearrange your work hours. Your employment relationship must have lasted at least three years without interruption—periods of parental leave such as Mutterschutz and Karenz count towards that.

Additionally, you must live with your child in a shared household, and the other parent may not be on parental leave for the same child at the same time.

Since 2016, working hours can only be reduced within a specific range: at least 20 percent of your normal weekly hours. With a traditional 40-hour work week, this can be between 12 and 32 hours per week.

If you are entitled to parental part-time work, you only need to inform the company formally.

How do I change to part-time work, then?

You need to inform your employer in writing that you wish to reduce our working hours or organise them differently in the future. 

You’ll have to tell them the start date, or from when the hours should be different; duration, so for how long you want the changes to last (the minimum duration is two months), location and new desired working hours. You can find a sample letter from the Chamber of Labour HERE.

Usually, and especially if you have a good relationship with your employer, you can have a conversation with them before formalising the request in a written communication. The company and employee agree on the exact terms. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The tax benefits that parents and families receive in Austria

Employers can deny a request that is unfeasible for the company, such as if a worker wants to work only outside of an establishment’s opening hours.

A family walks between housing blocks at Brandenburg's Central Immigration Authority (ZABH) centre, eastern Germany

A family walks between housing blocks. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

You need to watch out for the deadlines. If you want to go on Elternteilzeit immediately after the period of work protection after the birth of a child, as a mother, you need to announce this during your Mutterschutz. As a father, you must announce this within eight weeks of the birth.

If you want to go on part-time or change your hours after you return to work from parental leave,  you need to inform your employer of the changes at least three months before returning to work.

If you plan on asking for part-time work at a later date, for example, when the child is two years old and going to a creche or after your partner returns to work from parental leave, you need to notify them no earlier than four months from the planned date of changes but no later than three months. 

Protection against dismissal

One practical advantage of taking parental part-time work or changing your work schedule is that you are protected against dismissal—meaning you cannot be fired (except in a few cases) during that period. 

The protection against dismissal starts as soon as you notify the company of your intention to change your work hours but no earlier than four months before the intended start of parental leave. 

READ ALSO: Four things you should know if you’re going to give birth in Austria

The protection against dismissal and redundancy ends four weeks after the end of parental part-time work but no later than four weeks after the child’s 4th birthday.

Between your child’s 4th and 8th birthdays, you have protection against dismissal for cause: your employer may not dismiss you because you are taking part-time parental leave. You can fight such a dismissal in court.

You can be dismissed during part-time parental leave if you take up another job in addition to your part-time employment without the employer’s consent.

How long can I stay on this scheme?

Part-time parental leave can be taken until the child’s 8th birthday – for a maximum of seven years in total. 

The periods of non-employment after the birth and the parental leave periods of both parents for the same child are deducted from these seven years.

After this period ends, either by time limit or agreement, you return to your regular hours.

READ NEXT: Working in Austria: What are my rights as a pregnant person?