Are works council members entitled to work until the end of their term of office?

A works council’s term of office is, normally, four years.  What happens if a works council member is employed on a fixed-term contract and the contract ends long before the end of the works council’s term of office?  Does the employment contract simply come to end as agreed, or can the works council member claim continued employment until the end of the four year term?

The Regional Labour Court in Hamm (Landesarbeitsgericht, LAG  – docket number 7 Sa 1007/13) was faced with answering this question against the backdrop of a high degree of protection for works council members in Germany.  The Court decided that the employer, who did not want to extend the fixed-term contract of a works council member due to performance related reasons, was under no obligation to do so.

However, the Regional Labour Court made it clear that it would constitute unlawful discrimination against a works council member if the extension of the fixed-term contract had been refused due to the employee’s works council membership.  Employers must therefore always ensure that any decision to end fixed-term employment of a works council member is entirely unrelated to their works council duties, and should carefully consider communicating the (non-discriminatory) reason for the non-extension of the fixed-term contract.