Pension

Occupational Pensions: Federal Labour Court confirmed its ruling with respect to so-called “age difference clauses” in pension arrangements

By judgment of 11 December 2018 (docket number: 3 400/17) the Federal Labour Court has ruled that a so-called “age difference clause” (Altersabstandsklausel) providing that a survivor’s benefit is reduced if the age difference between the spouses is more than 10 years is admissible and is not to be considered as unjustified discrimination on grounds of age. The plaintiff was born in 1945. Her husband was born in 1930 and died in 2014. The spouses …

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Occupational pensions: No claim for employee to terminate an employee-funded direct life insurance policy

By judgment of 26 April 2018 (docket number: 3 AZR 586/16) the Federal Labour Court has ruled that an employee has no claim against his employer to terminate an employee-funded direct life insurance policy (deferred compensation /salary conversion) in order to receive the surrender value. The employee (plaintiff) concluded a deferred compensation agreement with the employer in 2001. According to that agreement, the employer – as policyholder – was obliged to pay an annual amount of …

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Transitional payment prior to retirement to be considered as an occupational pension

By judgment of 20.03.2018 (3 AZR 277/16) the Federal Labour Court has ruled that a transitional payment (taking into account pension payments) that is granted to a former employee during the first six months after their retirement is to be deemed to be an occupational pension and is, therefore, covered by the German Pension Insurance Association (Pensionssicherungsverein). The former employee (plaintiff) was granted a transitional payment on the basis of a works agreement by his …

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Occupational Pensions: Submission by Federal Labour Court to the European Court of Justice regarding compensation for benefit reductions by the Pension Insurance Association

By order of 20 February 2018 (3 AZR 142/16 (A)), the Federal Labour Court asked the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation and direct application of Article 8 of Directive 2008/94/EC. According to that provision, Member States are required to ensure that the necessary measures are made to safeguard the interests of employees regarding pension entitlements in case of insolvency of the employer. The plaintiff receives benefits from a company …

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Occupational Pensions: Legitimacy of so-called “age difference clauses” in pension arrangements

By judgment of 20.02.2018 (3 AZR 43/17) the Federal Labour Court has ruled that a so-called “age difference clause” (Altersabstandsklausel) providing that spouses receive a survivor’s benefit only if they are no more than 15 years younger than the deceased former employee is admissible.   The plaintiff was born in 1968. She married her husband, who was born in 1950 and died in 2011, in 1995. The plaintiff’s deceased husband was granted a survivor’s pension …

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Compensation (severance pay) of director’s pension benefits

By judgment of 23.05.2017 (II ZR 6/16) the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) has ruled that the prohibition against compensating for pension benefits according to Section 3 German Occupational Pension Act (Betriebsrentengesetz) may be derogated from by mutual consent and, as a result, ongoing pension benefits of a director can be paid out (severance pay). In the present case, the admissibility of the compensation for an ongoing pension, which in principle according to Section 3 German …

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Reform of the German Occupational Pension Act (“Betriebsrentengesetz”)

Effective January 1, 2018, the German Occupational Pension Act will be reformed by the Act to Strengthen Occupational Pensions (“Betriebsrentenstärkungsgesetz“), adopted by the German Parliament on 1 June 2017. In 2002, the German legislator issued a difficult challenge to the area of occupational pension provision with the introduction of the so-called “Riester Reform”. Together with the subsidised private “Riester pension”, occupational pensions were intended to compensate for the cuts to state pensions that had already …

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Occupational Pensions: Free bus ticket for wife to be considered as pension

By judgment of 23.06.2017 (6 Sa 173/17) the Regional Labour Court of Düsseldorf has ruled that with regard to the period from which the employee receives a pension, a free bus ticket provided by the employer to the employee’s wife is to be considered to be an occupational pension and therefore cannot be revoked. The employer, a transport company, granted his employees and their husbands/wives a free bus ticket both for the period of employment …

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Are workers in minor employment entitled to occupational pensions?

In an interesting appeal to the Federal Labour Court (docket number 3 AZR 83/16) the services trade union ver.di had been called upon by a female employee – who had originally been employed by the union Deutsche Postgewerkschaft since 1991 and had been working for the defendant since its merger with ver.di in 2001 – to obtain a pension. Since 2004, the applicant had been working in minor employment (a so called mini job or …

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Occupational Pensions: “Split pension formula” and pro-rata reduction of pension entitlements in accordance with European law

By judgment of 13.07.2017 (C 354/16) the European Court of Justice has ruled that a “split pension formula” and a pro-rata reduction of pension entitlements do not constitute discrimination against part-time employees or age discrimination. The employer granted to his employees a pension promise, according to which salary components above the German Social Security Contribution Ceiling and salary components below are treated differently and those above have a larger impact on the calculation of the …

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Occupational Pensions: No right of segregation under Section 47 of the German Insolvency Act for contributions to a captive pension insurance

By judgment of 21.03.2017 (3 AZR 718/15) the Federal Labor Court has ruled that a right of segregation under Section 47 of the German Insolvency Act generally does not exist in the event that an employer ceased contribution payments to a captive pension insurance and later became insolvent. Such a right only exists if the contributions were separated from the employer’s other assets. The employee was granted a pension promise in the form of a …

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Employee’s request for fixed-term employment narrowly interpreted

Entering into a valid fixed-term contract can be a bit of a challenge under German law. Under the Fixed Term and Part-Time Employment Act (TzBfG), one of the reasons which may be used to justify a fixed-term contract is that there are reasons relating to the circumstances of the particular employee. A recent case decided by the Federal Labour Court shows that these reasons will be narrowly interpreted (judgment dated 18 January 2017, docket number …

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Occupational Pensions: Deteriorating replacement of a works agreement in the course of a transfer of business

By judgment of 08.02.2017 (4 Sa 34/16) the Regional Labour Court Baden-Württemberg has ruled that an occupational pension scheme can be worsened by a transfer of business in accordance with § 613a of the German Civil Code (BGB) if a works agreement existing at the seller is replaced by a less favorable works agreement existing at the acquirer. The parties were in dispute about the legal basis for the plaintiff’s occupational pension payments. The plaintiff’s …

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Occupational Pensions: Clause of general terms and conditions according to which only a “present” wife of an employee is entitled to survivors’ benefits can constitute inadmissible disadvantage

By judgment of 21.02.2017 (3 AZR 297/15) the Federal Labor Court has ruled that a clause in general terms and conditions according to which only a “present” wife of an employee is entitled to a survivor’s pension constitutes an unreasonable disadvantage for the employee and therefore is invalid according to § 307 para (1) sentence 1 of German Civil Code (BGB). However, if the pension promise had been granted before 1 January 2002, this would …

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Details of how Mrs Merkel’s new administration wants to be “Shaping Germany’s Future”

Almost three months after the general election, the biggest political parties CDU/CSU and SPD have agreed to form a joint administration under the lead of Chancellor Angela Merkel.  In a 185-page coalition agreement named “Shaping Germany`s Future”  the parties have specified their plans and contemplated actions in respect of the forthcoming legislative period. In this post we will outline the key points relating to employment and labour issues that might be relevant to your business and …

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