No cake for company pensioner

The Labour Court Cologne (Arbeitsgericht, ArbG, Köln, November 24, 2016 – 11 Ca 3589/16) has dismissed the claim of several company pensioners against their former employer, a local food producer. The pensioners claimed a Christmas allowance in the amount of € 105 and a marzipan cake. The pensioners alleged that all company pensioners received those benefits in previous years and thus, they now have a legal claim to those benefits in the future due to an established company practice. The Labour Court Cologne, however, did not agree. Instead the Labour Court has ruled that no company practice was established in the past. Not all company pensioners received the cake and the Christmas allowance in the past. Also the company made it clear in their letter which was sent to the company pensioners each year that both the cake and the allowance are voluntary benefits and granting such benefits shall not constitute a legal entitlement for the future.

The decision again stresses that employers are well advised whenever they want to grant their employees additional benefits – regardless of their value or nature – to only grant such benefits with the express reservation that they are voluntary without creating any future rights to the benefits.