Topic: Germany

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What are the employment implications of the transfer of a business in Germany?

The employment implications of the transfer of a business are regulated by sec. 613a German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch – BGB). A transfer of a business takes place where an economic entity is transferred by a legal transaction and the economic entity is continued by the new owner of the business.

In order to determine whether such continuation occurs the courts have set various criteria,depending on the nature of the business being transferred. For example, where the business creates most of its value from the operation of machinery (e.g. an automobile plant), the transfer of those machines is normally the … Continue Reading

What protection from discrimination do employees have on grounds of gender in Germany?

All employees in Germany, including apprentices and job applicants, are fully protected against discrimination on grounds of gender under the German Anti-Discrimination-Act which is derived from European directives. In particular, it is unlawful to discriminate during the recruitment or promotion process. It is also unlawful to discriminate on grounds of gender in the giving of instructions during the daily working process or in the payment of remuneration. However, statistical surveys continue to demonstrate that men, in general, receive a higher salary even when working in a similar position to women.

Collective agreements and works agreements or other rules with regard … Continue Reading

Notice Rights – What Rights Do Employees Have To Notice On Termination Of Employment

Notice rights have the purpose of giving the employee the opportunity to take appropriate measures in preparation for the termination. The obligation of the employer to adhere to certain notice periods and the length of these notice periods depend - amongst other things - on the characterisation of the termination and the duration of the employment relationship.
 For an ordinary dismissal (ordentliche Kündigung), advance notice must always be given, regardless of the circumstances of the dismissal. In most cases, the German Act on Protection against Dismissal (the Act) applies, allowing dismissal only for certain causes. If an employer 
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Altersdiskriminierung bei Kündigung im Kleinbetrieb

Eine altersdiskriminierende Kündigung kann unwirksam sein und Entschädigungsansprüche auslösen. Dies gilt auch im Kleinbetrieb, obwohl dort eine Kündigung grdsl. ohne Grund möglich ist.

In der Entscheidung ging es um eine 1950 geborene Klägerin, die seit gut 20 Jahren bei einer Arztpraxis als Arzthelferin beschäftigt war. In der Praxis waren noch vier (jüngere) Arbeitnehmerinnen angestellt. Die Klägerin war zuletzt im Labor tätig.

Der Arbeitgeber kündigte das Arbeitsverhältnis der Klägerin wegen Veränderungen im Laborbereich, die eine Umstrukturierung des Betriebs erforderten. Dabei führte der Arbeitgeber an, die Klägerin sei bereits pensionsberechtigt. Den anderen Arbeitnehmerinnen wurde nicht gekündigt.

Die Klägerin machte geltend, die … Continue Reading

What protection from discrimination do employees have on the grounds of sexual orientation in Germany?

Discrimination against people on grounds of their sexual orientation is a topic widely discussed in European politics. For example, only recently, in Ireland marriage between same sex partners became lawful. In Germany, it is still not possible for same sex partners to marry. They can only enter into a so-called registered civil partnership (eingetragene Lebenspartnerschaft), which is different to marriage in some respects, for example, regarding adoption rights.

From an employment law perspective, employees are fully protected against discrimination due to their sexual orientation under the German Anti-Discrimination Act. This includes gay men, lesbians and bisexuals. Transsexuals are … Continue Reading

Working time – are there any restrictions on an employee’s working week in Germany?

Under the German Act on Working Time (Arbeitszeitgesetz), an employee’s working time is limited to a maximum of eight hours per working day and 48-hours per week. This 48 hours threshold applies to all employees working a five or six day week. However, most employees in Germany work five days and 40 hours per week at the most.

Under German law, an increase to up to ten hours per day is permissible without a special reason being necessary if the average of eight hours per day is not exceeded over a six-month reference period. However, as European … Continue Reading

Rechtsprechungsänderung: Keine Urlaubskürzung wegen Elternzeit nach Beendigung des Arbeitsverhältnisses

Das Bundesarbeitsgericht änderte mit Urteil vom 19.05.2015 seine Rechtsprechung zur Kürzung von Urlaubsansprüchen, die während einer Elternzeit entstehen.

Grundsätzlich entsteht auch während einer Elternzeit eines Arbeitnehmers ein Urlaubsanspruch. Endet das Arbeitsverhältnis nach Ablauf der Elternzeit, steht dem Arbeitnehmer ein Abgeltungsanspruch für den nicht genommenen Urlaub in Geld zu.

Das bedeutet beispielsweise, dass der Arbeitnehmer, der während des gesamten Kalenderjahres in Elternzeit war und dessen Arbeitsverhältnis nach Ablauf der Elternzeit endet, grundsätzlich einen Anspruch auf Abgeltung des vollen Jahresurlaubsanspruchs hat.

Nach der gesetzlichen Regelung (vgl. § 17 BEEG) darf ein Arbeitgeber den Erholungsurlaub aber um 1/12 für jeden vollen Monat der … Continue Reading

What rights do employees have to a minimum wage in Germany?

As from 1 January 2015, a minimum wage of € 8.50 has been introduced for the first time in Germany – this generally applies to all employees. However, there are some exceptions. For example, the minimum wage does not have to be paid to interns on a mandatory internship, apprentices, adolescents under the age of 18 without a completed apprenticeship, voluntary workers or former long-term unemployed people during the first six months of a new employment.

The amount of € 8.50 refers to the “normal performance” of the employee meaning that additional payments such as surcharges for night employment have … Continue Reading

What protection do employees have against discrimination on grounds of age?

In Germany, employees may not be treated adversely on the grounds of race, ethnic origin, gender, religion, secular belief, disability, sexual identity or age. Any provisions in agreements which violate the prohibition of adverse treatment are invalid.

Where there has been adverse treatment, the employer is obliged to pay the affected employee compensation unless the employer can prove that he is not responsible for the violation. For example, if a job applicant is not hired on grounds of age despite being the best qualified among the candidates, the job applicant can claim compensation for the loss he would have suffered … Continue Reading

Collective consultation on redundancy – what obligations do employers have?

In Germany, an employer must comply with certain consultation obligations when dismissing an employee. Failure to do so may result in the dismissal being held null and void by a labour court or the court awarding compensation to the affected employees.

The works council and dismissals

Prior to giving notice of termination, an employer must inform and consult any existing works council. The employer must provide the works council with the following information:

  • Details of the employees who are to be dismissed (including their name, place of work, position, remuneration, age, family status, job tenure, maintenance obligations, any severe disability,
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Effectiveness of a notice of dismissal by the chief human resource manager in Germany

In a recent decision the German Federal Labour Court made some welcome clarifications with regard to the entitlement to give and to reject a notice of dismissal.

Basic principles re the entitlement to give and to reject a notice of dismissal

Under German law notice can only be given by duly authorized persons and, in case of any doubts about the authorization, the terminated employee may reject the dismissal. In particular where there are deadlines (e.g. the end of a probationary period) such rejection can lead to significant additional costs for the employer as any new dismissal following the rejection … Continue Reading

Religious and other beliefs – what protection from discrimination do employees have in Germany?

Although religious and other beliefs should not play any role in employment decisions, there are a significant number of labor court decisions, including of recent date, dealing with employees’ protection against discrimination for this reason.

During the hiring process, the employer is not allowed to ask about the employee’s religion or which religious beliefs the employee follows. Should the employer nonetheless ask for such information, the employee is permitted to refuse to answer or lie. If an employer decides not to hire the employee due to his or her religious beliefs or if the employer discriminates against the employee after … Continue Reading

No automatic presumption of good assessments in employment references in Germany

Good news for all employers: The German Federal Labour Court has recently reversed the disastrous judgment of the Regional Labour Court of Berlin-Brandenburg concerning the allocation of the burden of proof with regard to assessments in employment references.

Basic principles re employment references

In Germany, upon termination of the employment relationship employees can claim for a written employment reference that contains information about the nature and duration of their employment as well as about their performance and behavior. Normally, the overall assessment of the employee´s performance is made by using a common “school-grade system” (very good resp. A – good … Continue Reading

Der arbeitsrechtliche Hintergrund der derzeitigen Streiks bei der Bahn

Arg strapaziert wird derzeit der Geduldsfaden der Bahnkunden – über Tage hinweg legten Gewerkschaften den Bahnverkehr mit Streiks lahm. Da eine Einigung der Lokführergewerkschaft GdL bzw. der Eisenbahnergewerkschaft EVG mit der Deutschen Bahn noch immer nicht in Sicht ist, ist zudem bis Weihnachten mit weiteren Streiks zu rechnen.

Doch was ist der Hintergrund der verhärteten Fronten? Neben den üblichen „Streik“punkten Gehalt und Arbeitszeit, geht es dieses Mal um eine ganz grundsätzliche Frage: Welche Gewerkschaft verhandelt für welche Berufsgruppe (z.B. die der Bordgastronomen), wenn sich in beiden Gewerkschaften Angehörige dieser Berufsgruppe finden? Die Gewerkschaften GdL und EVG konnten sich im … Continue Reading

Employees’ rights and obligations relating to the use of social media in Germany

In Germany 80% of all internet users are registered in social networks and 70% of all internet users actively make use of social networks. This development is also increasingly having an impact on the world of employment.

Social media and recruitment

In general, German data protection legislation allows the employer to collect and use an applicant’s/employee’s personal data to the extent necessary to decide whether or not to hire the applicant and in order to carry out or terminate the employment. Personal data must generally be collected directly from the applicant/employee. However, personal data may be collected from other sources … Continue Reading

Reform of the German Law On Parental Allowance And Parental Leave (Bundeselterngeld- und Elternzeitgesetz – BEEG)

On 7 November 2014 the German Bundestag passed the reform of the German Law On Parental Allowance And Parental Leave (Bundeselterngeld- und Elternzeitgesetz – BEEG). The purpose of this reform is to improve the compatibility of work and family life for parents on a partnership basis. In essence, the main revisions – that will most likely trigger increased claims for part-time work – provide for the following:

  • Parental Allowance

Any parental allowance is paid by the state. The employer does not have to make any payments in this regard.

The previous parental allowance will be called “Base Parental Allowance” in … Continue Reading

Disability – what protection from discrimination do disabled employees have in Germany?

In Germany, discriminating against disabled employees is prohibited by the General Equal Treatment Act (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz). This law provides very comprehensive protection against discrimination of any kind. In addition, severely disabled employees have special rights and protection under the German Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch IX).

1          General Equal Treatment Act

As this law transposed a European directive into German law, the concept of ‘disability’ must be understood in light of the European directive as referring to a “limitation which results in particular from physical, mental or psychological impairments and which hinders the participation of the person Continue Reading

Longer notice periods after longer employment periods are no age discrimination!

If an employer desires to terminate an employee’s employment without cause, German law provides for statutory minimum notice period. This ranges from at least four weeks to the 15th or the end of a month where the employee was employed for less than two years to at least seven months to the end of a month if the employee was employed for more than twenty years by the employer. The notice periods are as follows:

  • after two years of service: one month to the end of a month
  • after five years of service: two months to the end of
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Confirmation of the jurisdiction re long-term assignment of temporary workers

The claimant had been working for the defendant hospital as a temporary worker since 1 August 2008. Against the background that the German Temporary Employment Act only provides for assignments that are limited in time, the claimant argued that an employment relationship between her and the hospital had been created by law because of her long-term deployment in the hospital.

The German Federal Labour Court dismissed the claimant´s charge, confirming an earlier decision of December 2013. According to this decision, the long-term assignment of temporary workers does not bring about the creation of an employment relationship between the hiring company … Continue Reading

Flexible working in Germany – achieving a work-life balance

In the current “war for talents” that German employers increasingly have to fight, a good work-life balance is an important requirement for most job applicants. But it is an equally valuable selling point for employers in order to retain their current employees! Therefore, one sees companies already offering e.g. much more flexible working models providing part-time work or home office arrangements than several years ago. Many companies in Germany also voluntarily offer part-time working models for those in retirement, flexible or trust-based working-time models, company nurseries, staff canteens, sport programs, sabbaticals or carer’s leave. Whether on a voluntary basis or … Continue Reading

Facebook, YouTube und Kündigung – reloaded

This post was contributed by Lydia Brücklmeier, Associate, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP (München) and Miriam Schröter, Trainee, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP (Frankfurt a.M.)

Auch im Zusammenhang mit Betriebsratswahlen darf ein Arbeitnehmer nicht wissentlich falsche, geschäftsschädigende Behauptungen über die betrieblichen Verhältnisse aufstellen und über digitale Medien verbreiten oder verbreiten lassen. Anders ist dies jedoch bei sachlicher Kritik.

Dies betonte das Bundesarbeitsgerichts in seiner Entscheidung vom 31. Juli 2014:

Die Betriebsversammlung zur Bestellung eines Wahlvorstands anlässlich einer Betriebsratswahl in einem Betrieb, der viele Facharbeiter beschäftigt, nahm einen unübersichtlichen Verlauf. U.a. wurde der als Kandidat vorgeschlagene Kläger nicht zum Wahlvorstand gewählt; auch … Continue Reading

No work, no holiday?

The German Federal Labour Court recently ruled that the statutory holiday entitlement remains unaffected by an unpaid special leave. This might sound weird but indeed this means that going forward companies have to grant holidays/vacation even for sabbaticals.

In the case the parties had agreed upon an unpaid special leave from January through September 2011. Subsequently the employee claimed payment in lieu with regard to 15 unused vacation days for 2011. The German Federal Labour Court confirmed such claim.

The highest German labour court judges emphasized that employees in Germany are entitled to a statutory vacation claim of at least … Continue Reading

Is the HR manager’s signature sufficient for a valid notice of termination in Germany?

In Germany, a notice of termination needs to be given “by the employer”. As “the employer” is nowadays usually not a natural person, companies need to be aware of the formal requirements to adhere to if the notice of termination is to be signed by a company representative.

If the dismissal is not signed by a board member or a proxy holder registered in the German Commercial Register, the dismissal can validly be signed by an authorized person, provided that a (written) authorization signed by a competent board member is presented when the notice of termination is delivered. Please … Continue Reading

Employees’ right to holiday in Germany

Employees’ rights to holiday are governed by the Federal Holiday with Pay Act (Bundesurlaubsgesetz) in Germany. Pursuant to this Act, employees who work six days per week are entitled to an annual minimum paid vacation of 24 working days. Employees with a five-day working week are entitled to a pro-rata vacation of 20 working days. Nevertheless, most companies grant a higher vacation entitlement, which normally varies between 25 and 30 days per year. Employees can claim their full vacation entitlement if the employment relationship has existed for a minimum of six months during the applicable vacation year. In case of … Continue Reading