Standard contractual terms and conditions of employment

Termination agreements: Employees have no right of withdrawal

On February 7, 2019 the Federal Labour Court (docket number 6 AZR 75/18) ruled that employees cannot withdraw a termination agreement even if it was concluded in the private apartment of the employee. In the case at hand, however, the termination agreement might be void if the fundamentals of fair negotiation (Gebot des fairen Verhandelns) have been ignored. The parties agreed to a termination agreement in the apartment of the plaintiff. The termination agreement comprised …

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Current case law of the Federal Labour Court on forfeiture periods

In June 2018, the Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht, BAG) dealt intensively with forfeiture periods. The judgments addressed: The date when the deadline starts to run (07 June 2018; docket number 8 AZR 96/17); The suspension due to settlement negotiations (20 June 2018; docket number 5 AZR 262/17); and The entitlement for statutory minimum wage during the period of incapacity for work despite forfeiture periods under tariffs (20 June 2018; docket number 5 AZR 377/17). Start …

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The right to extend working hours – sec 9 Act on Part-Time Work and Fixed-Term Employment (TzBfG)

Many employees want flexibility at work; often, this means there is a desire to work part-time (less than 40 hours a week). However the reverse case is also not uncommon; an employee wants to increase his working hours, particularly to earn more money. Both cases are covered by German law. However, there is a claim (currently) only in respect of shortening the working time (sec. 8 TzfG). With an extension the conditions are different. Sec. …

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The sweet sorrow of parting – 3 year long termination notice period puts employee at disadvantage

German employment law allows the parties to an employment contract to agree a specific notice period in derogation from the statutory standard period as set out in § 622 para. 1 German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, BGB), as long as the notice period for an employee does not exceed the notice period for the employer. However, the German Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht, BAG) recently ruled (26 October 2017; docket number: 6 AZR 158/16) that significantly extending the termination notice period …

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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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Competing activities during notice period can justify an immediate termination for cause

In its judgment dated 12 April 2017 (docket number 3 Sa 202/16), the Higher Regional Labour Court of Schleswig Holstein found that activities for a competitor during an employee’s notice period may justify an immediate termination for cause. Under the employment contract, the employee had committed not to hold any shares of a company in direct or indirect competition with his employer without first obtaining prior approval. In addition, under a statutory non-compete obligation, an …

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Forfeiture clause was valid to prevent employee’s claim despite not excluding minimum wage entitlement

In a judgement of 9 May 2017 (docket number 7 Sa 560/16 ) the regional labour court of Nurnberg held that a forfeiture clause which did not exclude entitlement to minimum remuneration was not invalid. The forfeiture clause simply did not apply to claims for minimum remuneration. The parties had entered into an employment contract which contained the following forfeiture clause: All claims of the parties arising under the employment contract shall be deemed forfeited …

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Internships do not count towards the probationary period for vocational training

A previous internship will not count towards the mandatory probationary period for vocational training in order to effectively shorten the agreed probationary period (judgment of the Federal Labour Court, Bundesarbeitsgericht, BAG, dated 19 November 2015, docket number 6 AZR 844/14). Traditionally, many professions in Germany require a formal vocational training program which commonly takes three years. As part of this vocational training, trainees attend school but also work in companies under a training contract. When …

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Too short a notice period will not render a termination null and void

Even if an employment contract invalidly provides for a notice period of two days and the employer subsequently issues a termination with a two-day notice period, this will not render a termination null and void. The Hamm Higher Regional Labour Court (Landesarbeitsgericht, LAG) was called to rule on the validity of a termination in the context of an extraordinarily short notice period of two days during a probationary period (judgment dated January 30, 2015, docket …

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Ins and Outs of Bonus and Commission Payments – Part I

Employers may grant their employees bonuses in addition to fixed basic salary for a variety of reasons, for example, to reward performance, loyalty to the company or just as a Christmas gratuity. In this context different questions arise. This two-part post addresses the most common questions regarding bonus and commission payments.    What are the different types of bonuses payments? The term “bonus” is not limited to a special kind of a bonus payment. In …

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Christmas (bonus) is for everyone

The Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht, BAG) ruled on November 13, 2013 (docket number – 10 AZR 848/12) that employers cannot validly exclude grants of special payments such as Christmas bonuses in their regulations with respect to employees whose employment ended during the calendar year, if such bonus shall not only reward company loyalty but also remunerate performed work. The court argued, that such exclusions are void, because they unreasonably deprive employees of their earned salary. …

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