Right of part-time employees to return to full-time

The German parliament has recently passed a law which amends the current Part-Time and Fixed-Term Act and will likely enter into force on 1 January 2019. Under the new law (so-called bridge-part-time-work), employees have the right to work part-time for a period of one to five years (“Part-Time-Period”) and return to full-time after the Part-Time-Period has expired. This right only applies if (i) at the time of the application the employee has been employed by his current employer for more than six months and (ii) the employer (e.g. the respective employing entity) employs more than 45 employees in Germany in total. Employers with more than 45 and not more than 200 employees may reject the employee’s claim if (i) one in 15 employees has already been granted bridge-part-time-work or (ii) operational reasons do not allow the (preliminary) reduction of the working time. Employers with more than 200 employees may only reject the claim to part-time work if operational reasons do not allow the (preliminary) reduction of working time. The employee must apply for the reduction in working time and the extent of the reduction at least three months prior to commencement of the Part-Time-Period. The right to return to full time is not contingent upon special personal circumstances, e.g. children below a certain age etc.