Topic: Germany

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Preparing to return to the workplace: What should German employers be doing?

Public life is slowly returning to normality in Germany as stores, restaurants and cafes begin to  reopen. However, a return to ”business as usual“ seems a long way off. Companies and employers need to consider different priorities and complex provisions when preparing the return to the workplace.

In general, employers have a duty to take reasonable care of the health and safety of their employees. They have to assess possible risks to employees’ safety and health and take measures based on this assessment as well as identify and take additional measures where necessary to ensure the workplace is safe.… Continue Reading

Relaxation of German working time regulations due to COVID-19?

In an effort to fight the effects of the COVID-19 epidemic the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) is working on a bill to relax restrictions on working time in Germany. Specifically, longer working hours, shorter rest periods and the employment of workers on Sundays and public holidays for certain activities will temporarily be permitted.

The right to issue such a bill without having to seek the approval of the parliament (Bundestag) and the Federal Council (Bundesrat) was granted to BMAS as part of the government’s social protection package passed on 27 March 2020. This new regulation authorizes … Continue Reading

COVID-19 / Germany: Admissible measures and co-determination rights

The rapid spread of COVID-19 within Europe and the beginning of the pandemic have led many of our clients to consider how employees and, if necessary, customers can be protected against any further spread of the infection and which employment law related measures should they be taking. We have summarised and answered the main questions in a table below. This table is intended as guide for questions arising at short notice and represents the current legal opinion of our colleagues working in the field of German employment law.

Please note, however, that the current legal assessments, in particular with regard … Continue Reading

COVID-19: Erleichterungen bei Kurzarbeit

Um Arbeitsplätze zu schützen und die infolge der Corona-Krise von einem Arbeitsausfall betroffenen Unternehmen zu unterstützen, hat die deutsche Regierung Erleichterungen bei der Kurzarbeit beschlossen. Rückwirkend zum 1. März 2020 können Betriebe bei der Agentur für Arbeit Kurzarbeit beantragen, wenn ein Zehntel (statt bisher 1/3) ihrer Beschäftigten von einem Arbeitsausfall wegen der Epidemie betroffen ist. Wird die Kurzarbeit bewilligt, erstattet die Agentur für Arbeit einerseits durch das Kurzarbeitergeld 60% (bzw. bei Beschäftigten mit Kindern 67%) des Verdienstausfalls und übernimmt – das ist neu – zu 100% die Sozialversicherungsbeiträge. Diese mussten bisher auch im Fall der Kurzarbeit von den Arbeitgebern getragen … Continue Reading

Germany: An Employer’s duties dealing with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Q&A

COVID-19 is spreading across the world and companies everywhere are faced with its challenges. In circumstances where a COVID-19 case impacts your German workplace we recommend close coordination with the public health authority on how to proceed. In doing so – especially against a possible liability for illness or even death – it will show that you, as an employer, have taken all reasonable steps to ensure that you have protected your employees. For further guidance please check our Q&A list:

1. Can employees be forced to take unpaid leave or flexitime or to reduce their working hours?

There is … Continue Reading

Crowd workers do not qualify as employees

As the end of the year approaches, the German courts have published a decision providing employers with further clarity on the issue of crowd working.

What is crowd working?

Crowd working is a highly flexible form of working. According to the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS), around 4.8 percent of the German electorate earn their money through “mini-jobs” or tasks sourced through the internet. These crowd workers take on work from companies that is offered to all, for example via apps or on general or specialised network platforms. These tasks generally have to be completed within a … Continue Reading

Update on electronic medical certificates

Medical certificates may not be ordered online

A recent decision of the Hamburg Regional Court (LG Hamburg 3.9.2019 – 406 HK O 56/19) has ruled that issuing medical certificates of incapacity by remote diagnosis is a violation of medical diligence. This means that employees will not be able to apply online for a medical certificate confirming their inability to work (as previously discussed in our blog article, Facilitating HR Management: Electronic medical certificates on 23rd September 2019).

According to the Professional Code of Conduct for Physicians, doctors must proceed with the necessary care when issuing medical reports and … Continue Reading

Facilitating HR Management: Electronic medical certificates

As part of the “Third Bureaucracy Relief Act” the German government intends to introduce an electronic submission procedure for medical certificates regarding the incapacity of employees. More than 80 million of such certificates are issued every year by doctors in Germany. Replacing extensive documentation and record-keeping duties will allow medium-sized companies in particular to reduce existing manual processing workloads.

According to current German law an employee must submit a medical certificate of incapacity to the employer at the latest by the fourth day of absence due to illness. In the future, employers will be able to retrieve electronic certificates directly … Continue Reading

Control or trust: Legal claim to home office?

Digitization and  technological advances are accelerating the flexibility of working conditions leading to a changed understanding of leadership. A key topic of debate is the “home office” which is currently used by approximately 12 per cent of employees in Germany for all or part of their working time. On this topic, the German government is currently considering a bill requiring companies to comply with a worker’s desire to work from home – based on their assessment that 40 per cent of all employees could realistically work from home and that the majority of employees would be interested in doing so.… Continue Reading

Managing German labour migration: The new “Skilled Immigration Act”

The German Bundesrat recently approved a long-awaited and controversially debated immigration legislation, implementing several European directives dating back more than ten years. The “Skilled Immigration Act (“Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz”) intends to attract qualified professionals from around the world. Further, the Act aims to improve labour market efficiency, prevent skill shortages and offset regional imbalances in order to sustain competitiveness and economic growth. The Skilled Immigration Act provides clear requirements for “qualified professionals” which, for the first time, includes academics as well as persons with vocational qualifications.

To enter the German labour market, highly qualified third-country professionals must present a valid … Continue Reading

EuGH fordert systematische Arbeitszeiterfassung

Unternehmen in der Europäischen Union sollen künftig dazu verpflichtet sein, ein System zur Erfassung der täglichen effektiven Arbeitszeit ihrer Arbeitnehmer einzuführen. Der Europäische Gerichtshof (EuGH) entschied in einem Urteil vom 14.05.2019, dass alle Mitgliedstaaten von Arbeitgebern einfordern müssen, „ein objektives, verlässliches und zugängliches System einzurichten, mit dem die von einem jeden Arbeitnehmer geleistete tägliche Arbeitszeit gemessen werden kann.“ (Pressemitteilung des EuGH).

 Die Entscheidung betrifft eine Klage der spanischen Gewerkschaft CCOO gegen die Deutsche Bank SAE in Spanien, in dem sie argumentierte, nur durch eine umfassende Zeiterfassung könne die Bank ihrer Verpflichtung nachkommen, der Gewerkschaft die monatlich geleisteten Überstunden zur Prüfung … Continue Reading

German court: Protection of whistle-blower confidentiality does not generally override the data subject access right

On the scope of subject access requests under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GRPR) in the context of compliance and whistle-blowing regimes, the Regional Labour Court (Landesarbeitsgericht) of Stuttgart decided that an employer was required not only to provide an employee with the records containing performance and behavioural data, but also to disclose information regarding internal investigations. This is the first reported successful enforcement of a data subject access right under Article 15 GDPR before a regional labour court in Germany. (The judgment was handed down on 20 December 2018 but has just been published … Continue Reading

Key developments expected for 2019

At the beginning of 2019, some important key changes to German labor law came into force. In particular, there were significant changes to the Part-Time and Fixed-Term Work Act, which are described in more detail in the following article.

On 1 January 2019, section 9a was newly inserted into the Part-Time Work and Fixed-Term Employment Contracts Act (TzBfG). This new provision entitles employees to a limited reduction in working hours for a period of between a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years, so-called “bridge part-time”. After this period of time has elapsed, the employee automatically returns … Continue Reading

Fairness als neue Arbeitgeberpflicht

Arbeitgeber sehen sich in Deutschland mit einer neuen Rechtspflicht konfrontiert: Laut Bundesarbeitsgericht müssen Verträge mit Arbeitnehmern „fair verhandelt“ werden, um wirksam zu sein.

Im entschiedenen Fall hatte eine Reinigungskraft in ihrer Privatwohnung einen Aufhebungsvertrag mit ihrem Arbeitgeber abgeschlossen – darin wurde die sofortige Beendigung ihres Arbeitsverhältnisses ohne Zahlung einer Abfindung vereinbart. Im Nachhinein focht die Arbeitnehmerin den Vertrag wegen Irrtums, arglistiger Täuschung und widerrechtlicher Drohung an und widerrief ihn hilfsweise zusätzlich. Sie gab an, an dem Tag krank gewesen zu sein und den Vertrag unter Druck unterzeichnet zu haben. Tatsächlich hielt die Vereinbarung vor dem Bundesarbeitsgericht nicht (Az.: 6 AZR … Continue Reading

Generalanwalt am EuGH fordert allgemeine Arbeitszeiterfassung

Nach den Schlussanträgen des Generalanwalts am Europäischen Gerichtshof (EuGH) sollen Unternehmen künftig verpflichtet sein, ein System zur Erfassung der täglichen Arbeitszeit ihrer Mitarbeiter einzuführen (Schlussanträge v. 31.01.2019, Az. C-55/18). Die dabei gemeinte Arbeitszeit umfasst den Zeitraum der tatsächlichen Verrichtung der Arbeitsleistung ohne Ruhepausen.

Schon jetzt müssen Unternehmen aufgrund des Arbeitszeitgesetzes jede Arbeitszeit erfassen, die die regelmäßig zulässige werktägliche Arbeitszeit der Mitarbeiter von acht Stunden überschreitet oder auf Sonn- und Feiertage entfällt (§ 16 Abs. 2 Arbeitszeitgesetz); andernfalls droht eine Geldbuße von bis zu 15.000 Euro. Dagegen sind Unternehmen in Deutschland nicht generell verpflichtet, die werktägliche Arbeitszeit von acht Stunden oder … Continue Reading

Stärkere Kontrollen bei Dienstreisen erwartet: Erfordernis von A1-Bescheinigungen

Mit einer Entscheidung vom 6. September 2018 stärkte der EuGH (C-527/16) die Bedeutung der sozialversicherungsrechtlichen A1-Bescheinigung. Zur Vermeidung doppelter Sozialversicherungsbeiträge in zwei verschiedenen EU-Staaten bescheinigt dieses Entsendeformular, welches Sozialsystem für einen Versicherten zuständig ist. Die A1-Bescheinigung ist selbst bei sehr kurzen Dienstreisen ins Ausland erforderlich und zwar sowohl für Arbeitnehmer als auch für Selbstständige.

Der EuGH entschied nun, dass eine vom zuständigen Träger eines Mitgliedstaats ausgestellte A1-Bescheinigung sowohl für die Träger der sozialen Sicherheit als auch für die Gerichte des anderen Mitgliedstaats, in dem die Tätigkeit ausgeübt wird, verbindlich ist, solange sie von dem ausstellenden Mitgliedstaat weder widerrufen noch … Continue Reading

BVerfG verwirft Drei-Jahres-Frist für sachgrundlose Befristungen nach Vorbeschäftigung

Einmal ist keineswegs kein Mal! 

Mit Beschluss vom 6. Juni 2018  (Az.: 1 BvL 7/14 und 1 BvR 1375/14), veröffentlicht am 13. Juni 2018, verwarf das BVerfG die bisherige Rechtsprechung des Bundesarbeitsgerichts (BAG) zu sachgrundlosen Befristungen und bestätigt die Verfassungsmässigkeit deren Beschränkung durch das Teilzeit- und Befristungsgesetz (TzBfG). Da rund 9% aller Arbeitsverhältnisse in Deutschland sachgrundlos befristet sind und diese Quote bei jüngeren Arbeitnehmern zwischen 20 und 30 Jahren sogar bei 30% liegt, hat die Entscheidung große praktische Bedeutung.

§ 14 Abs. 2 S. 2 TzBfG erlaubt die sachgrundlose Befristung eines Arbeitsverhältnisses nur, wenn zwischen den Arbeitsvertragsparteien vorher noch kein … Continue Reading

Will employers soon be under an obligation to require their employees to take holiday?

Although pursuant to Sec. 7 para. 1 of the German Federal Leave Act (Bundesurlaubsgesetz) it is the employer‘s obligation to grant holidays, in practice this usually occurs only after the individual employee’s formal request for holiday leave.

In the near future, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) must decide whether or not employers can – as currently – wait for an employee’s holiday request before granting holiday or if they are legally obliged to require employees to take at least the statutory minimum holiday, in order to prevent the employee being able to carry forward unused holiday entitlement … Continue Reading

Can a claim for compensation for unused holidays be inherited following an employee’s death during employment?

Pursuant to Sec. 7 para. 4 of the German Federal Leave Act (Bundesurlaubsgesetz) payment in lieu of accrued but untaken holiday is only possible if it cannot be taken due to the termination of the employment. On termination of the employment, the holiday entitlement automatically transforms into an entitlement to compensation.

In the event of an employee‘s death, regarding the question whether or not the employee’s heirs are entitled to claim compensation for any accrued holiday not taken by the employee, the German Federal Labour Court has held that it depends on the time of death:

  • If the
Continue Reading

Issues of employment status: pseudo self-employment and hidden personnel leasing in Germany

German labour law follows the “all or nothing” principle: Labour law regulations presume an existing employment relationship between employer and employee. If no such relationship exists, protective labour law regulations cannot be applied (with a few exceptions e.g. in the case of managing directors of a “GmbH” (limited company)). Assessing whether an employment relationship exists requires evaluating the nature of the relationship in question and assessing it against the legal definition of “employment”.

As in many other countries, Germany witnessed the trend of reducing core workforces in favour of a more flexible use of external resources. This in particular lead … Continue Reading

Artificial intelligence and the workplace

These days especially in view of “Arbeiten 4.0”, the so called fourth industrial revolution in Germany, digitalization pervades the whole working world and is reflected in a vast number of different phenomena. As one of them artificial intelligence can complement – and in some cases even replace – manpower as we can see in the automotive industry. Yet the commitment is no longer limited to pure routine activities: Artificial intelligences can just as well assume employer’s responsibilities for example by giving automated instructions to employees. Therefore, digital changes also affect highly qualified positions, scientists and management – all of which … Continue Reading

Employment Law and Financial Institutions

In the financial sector, in addition to individual employment contracts, working conditions can be subject to various industry related statutes and regulations, collective bargaining agreements and works agreements.

Laws and regulations

As a reaction to the global financial crisis, the participants of the 2008 G20 summit in Washington, including Germany, agreed on the establishment and implementation of global standards of regulation, cross-border supervision and management to avoid conflicts of interest and to create an early warning system to avoid a repetition of the financial crisis.

In response to this resolution, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) published principles for sound compensation … Continue Reading

What rights does an employer have to suspend an employee in Germany?

Under German law, an employer can only suspend an employee in certain cases. One of the core obligations of the employment relationship is an obligation on the employer to provide the employee with relevant work to be performed. If it fails to do so without justification, it must nevertheless continue to pay the employee. Notwithstanding this, a mutual agreement to suspend the employee, whether paid or unpaid, is of course always possible.

Suspension without continued payment of remuneration

An employer may not suspend an employee without payment of salary unless it is explicitly provided for by law or in collective … Continue Reading

Bericht zur Gleichstellung und Entgeltgleichheit erstmals in 2018 aufzustellen!

Die Umsetzung guter Vorsätze: Erstmaliger Entgeltbericht nach dem Entgelttransparenzgesetz

Ganz oben auf der To-Do-Liste für 2018 steht – neben den Vorsätzen für das neue Jahr – für viele Unternehmen die erstmalige Aufstellung des Berichts zur Gleichstellung und Entgeltgleichheit nach dem Entgelttransparenzgesetz. Der Bericht ist im Jahr 2018 erstmals zu erstellen – Berichtszeitraum ist dabei das Kalenderjahr 2016 – und dem nächsten Lagebericht nach § 289 HGB als Anlage beizufügen sowie im Bundesanzeiger zu veröffentlichen.

Wer ist betroffen?

Betroffen sind alle Arbeitgeber mit in der Regel mehr als 500 Beschäftigten, die zur Erstellung eines Lageberichts (§§ 264 und 289 HGB) verpflichtet … Continue Reading

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