Bye bye, ELENA!

Paragraph Symbol - ©Can Stock Photo Inc. / froxxAt the beginning of last year the German Government introduced ELENA – the Elektronischer Entgeltnachweis.

Put simply, since then employers have had to report information about their employees to a central database, such as how much their earn, the number of days holiday that they took and whether they went on strike.  The form is about three pages long, per employee, per month.

The whole system was criticised for collecting too much data about everyone, without it being strictly necessary.  Under the old system, much of the information was only required when applying for benefits, most notably unemployment benefit, at which point the company had to fill out a form (4 pages long if I remember correctly) about their former employee.

If someone had worked for more than one company within a certain amount of time, then all their previous employers had to fill one out.

With ELENA, the data would be collected month for month, meaning that the unemployment office would be able to access it without bothering or even waiting for the employers.

Except, of course, there were problems.  Who could guarantee that the data would not be used for any other purpose?  How would the unemployment offices be able to access the data of just one person, and only with their permission?

And, of course, it meant a lot more work for every employer every month of the year.

Due to all of these problems and criticism, and new law was introduced to the Bundestag to scrap ELENA.  However having been approved, it still did not make its way onto the German statute book until 3rd December, so between July and November employers have been sending in the data, knowing that it would not be used, but not wanting to risk a fine for not doing so.

So what, you may ask, did the German Government do with all the data that had been collected?

Did they keep it to use in the manner that had been intended?  Or did they delete it?

The answer is: neither!  Instead, they destroyed the encryption key that is needed to access the data.  The data itself is to be deleted over the next few weeks.

Which begs the question: if the key is destroyed, how is the data going to be deleted without wiping the entire database on which it resides?

… and what happens to the backups?

Truly German: ELENA

ELENA stands for Elektronischer Entgeltnachweis and was introduced in Germany at the beginning of 2010.

Companies now have to report details about their employees on a monthly basis to a new Government agency.  These include their wages, but also the number of days holiday or even on strike that they had.

The German Government has claimed that it will reduce paperwork and beaurocracy for companies, but my experience with the new system this week left me with a different opinion, as you can hear in the podcast:

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UMTS stands for Universal Mobile Telecommunications System – and although the German translation would have the same abbreviation it is usually just the term UMTS that is used.  In English it is often referred to as “3G”.

UMTS is a new form of transmitting and receiving data over the mobile phone network.  Unlike GPRS it does not use the same frequencies as GSM, so that in Germany the licenses for UMTS were issued separately from the normal mobile phone ones.

UMTS allows data speeds of up to 7.2MBit/s, as long as the necessary hardware and network are available.  For UMTS-access, most laptops use a special USB-stick, although some of the latest models now have the modules built-in.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

(Press the “play” button to listen to the podcast)

Download the MP3 file | Comment in the forum

Subscribe to the podcast | Listen by telephone

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