Appointment of a Conciliation Committee dealing with the subject of a No Smoking Policy

Under German law, works councils have so-called co-determination rights on certain subjects. This means that an employer must reach an agreement with the works council on these matters, such as rules and policies for employee conduct. Works council co-determination is, however, excluded if there are binding and final statutory provisions dealing with a certain matter. If no agreement can be reached through negotiations between the works council and the employer, a so-called conciliation committee will …

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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 …

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Co-determination right if the employer sets up and operates a Twitter account

In a judgment dated 13 September 2018 the Higher Labour Court of Hamburg (docket number 2 TaBV 5/18) ruled that if the employer operates a Twitter account, at least on the basis of the reply function, the (general) works council has a co-determination right according to section 87 para. 1 no. 6 Works Council Constitution Act (Betriebsverfassungsgesetz). The co-determination right does not require that the technical facility is designed to monitor the performance and behaviour of employees. It …

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No Automatic Expiration of Holiday Entitlement Due to Missing Holiday Request

Judgments With judgments dated 6 November 2018 (docket number: C-619/16; C-684/16), the European Court of Justice (Europäischer Gerichtshof, EuGH) decided that an employee’s entitlement to paid holiday must not automatically expire due to a missing holiday request. Rather, the holiday entitlement should only expire if the employer is capable of approving that the employee voluntarily waived the holiday after being put in the actual position to take holiday in due time. Therefore the employer has …

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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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Remuneration of travel time for international assignments

I. Judgment With its judgment dated 17 October 2018, the Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht, BAG) decided that in cases of an employee’s temporary international assignment the employer must remunerate the time required for outward and return travel as work (docket number: 5 AZR 553/17) II. Facts The plaintiff, who is employed by the defendant as a technical assistant, has a contractual obligation to work on domestic and foreign construction sites. Therefore the plaintiff was sent …

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Judgement of the Federal Labor Court Regarding Dismissal due to Frequent Short Illnesses

With its judgment dated 25 April 2018, the Federal Labor Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht, BAG) has maintained its constant jurisdiction, deciding that a disruption relevant for dismissal exists if, according to the employee’s health prognosis, costs for continued remuneration exceeding six weeks within one year are expected in future (docket number: 2 AZR 6/18).   The court had to decide under which conditions the extraordinary dismissal of an employee, whose contract cannot be ordinarily terminated under a …

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Employee data protection: Notification of private mobile phone number to employer

The Higher Labor Court of Thuringia decided that the processing of an employee’s private mobile phone number against his will is an extremely serious interference with the employee’s personal rights and was not justified in the specific case (decision on 16 May 2018 – docket number 6 Sa 442/17). Therefore, the warning issued in this context was ineffective. The employee works for the district in the area of hygiene and infection protection. In the employee’s …

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Occupational health and safety standards as a limit to the employer’s right to issue instructions

The allocation of a job which does not meet the requirements of Sec. 618 para. 1 German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, BGB) in conjunction with the public occupational health and safety standards may nevertheless correspond to the employer’s equitable discretion if it concerns only minor or short-term infringements which cannot cause lasting damage. This is what the German Federal Labor Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht, BAG) decided in its judgement of 28 June 2018, docket number 2 AZR …

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Good news for parents? – Interpretation of social plan severance provisions

If, in a social compensation plan, the severance payment calculation is based solely on the gross monthly basic salary of a single reference month, the decisive salary of employees who work part-time in that month during their parental leave, is the gross monthly basic salary which they would have been entitled to under their employment contract if they had not been on parental leave (i.e. if they had not worked part time. This is what …

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Employees Cannot Claim Default Lump Sums for Late Wages

Anyone who fails to pay his debts on time and comes into default of his payment obligations must pay default interest. In addition, the creditor may demand a lump sum for default costs in the amount of EUR 40.00 due to sec. 288 para. 5 of the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, BGB) if the debtor is an entrepreneur. As of the introduction of that regulation by the legislator in 2014, it has been disputed …

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EU Directive Draft “Whistleblowing”

On 23 April 2018, the European Commission presented its draft directive “proposal for a directive of the European parliament and of the council on the protection of persons reporting on breaches of Union law”. The proposal is based on the official Council of Europe Recommendation on the protection of whistleblowers of 2014, according to which Member States should have a legal and institutional framework to protect persons who, in the context of their industrial relations, …

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Legal Useability of Recordings from Open Video Surveillance

By its decision of 23 August 2018 the Federal Labor Court (docket number 2 AZR 133/18) facilitated video surveillance at the workplace. Legally and openly created recordings do not have to be deleted by the employer within a few days. According to the Federal Labor Court, they can be evaluated several months later. Under data protection law employers are in principle entitled to use video cameras to publicly monitor accessible sales areas in order to …

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Imminent invalidity of limitation periods

In a Judgment dated 18 September 2018 the Federal Labour Court ruled that limitation periods, which do not exclude a claim for the Minimum Wage (Mindestlohn) according to the Minimum Wage Act (Mindestlohngesetz), are invalid. This results in the ineffectiveness of thousands of limitation periods in employment contracts. In Germany, limitation periods within which a claim must be asserted are commonly agreed in employment contracts. These generally amount to three months and are therefore considerably …

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No co-determination rights of the works council for stock options issued by a foreign parent company

In a judgment dated 3 August 2017, the Higher Regional Labour Court of Hessen has held that a works council’s co-determination rights do not extend to stock option plans by an employer’s foreign parent company (docket number 5 TaBV 23/17).   Under German law, works councils have a co-determination right regarding remuneration principles. In this case, the foreign parent company decided annually and independently from the local employing entity whether stock options were to be …

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