Dismissal Protection Act not applicable to managing directors despite employee status

While recent EU law developments on the potential employee status of managing directors (cf. ECJ, June 9, 2015, docket no. C-229/14 – Balkaya) and decisions of the German Federal Labour Court regarding the procedural issue of giving managing directors access to the Labour Courts under certain circumstances have somewhat blurred the dividing lines between managing directors and employees, a recent decision of the Higher Labour Court of Berlin-Brandenburg seems to bring some clarity to the …

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Revision of the Law on Temporary Work from 1 April 2017

The German Parliament (Bundestag), with the approval of the Federal Council (Bundesrat), has passed amendments to the “Law on Temporary Work”. The new rules will enter into force on 1 April 2017 and do not only have impact on leasing personnel but also on work and service contracts. The key changes introduced by the reform are summarized as follows: The deployment of temporary workers to the same hirer is limited to a maximum duration of …

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The Works Council’s right of co-determination regarding the Employer’s Facebook presence

The German Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht) decided on 13 December 2016 that the Works Council has a right of co-determination when the employer’s Facebook page allows other users to post comments, which are related to the behaviour and performance of the employees. The employer operates a blood donor service. The doctors working at the blood donation events and all other employees wear name tags during their work. The employer’s Facebook page was established as a …

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40 Euro lump sum compensation in the event of late or incomplete wages

On 22 November 2016, the Labour Court Cologne decided that an employer who pays late or incomplete wages is obliged to pay lump sum compensation in the amount of 40 Euros to the affected employee (Judgement of 22.11.2016 – 12 SA 524/16). In 2011 the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union passed the Directive 2011/7/EU on combating late payment in commercial transactions. “The aim of this Directive is to combat late payment …

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Sick is sick

The Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht, BAG) ruled on 2 November 2016 (docket number: 10 AZR 596/15) that an employee who is incapable of work for health reasons does not need to come into the office for a personnel meeting requested by the employer. In this case the employer called the sick employee into the office twice for meetings to talk about future potential for employment after the period of illness. The employee refused both times, referring …

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Background checks aka pre-employment screenings in Germany

Many companies refuse to settle for the information provided by the applicant on job applications and in personal interviews. So-called background checks (also known as “pre-employment screenings”) therefore enjoy great popularity among employers in the US and the UK as a measure to investigate the potential employee’s background. This screening may be conducted by the company’s own staff, or, increasingly, by third party companies that specialize in background screening. In both cases, validation of the …

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Social Media in the employment context and the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Sharing personal and work-related information on social media sites has become a prevalent practice for many employees nowadays. Likewise, social media is also used by employers as a platform to connect with the public (e.g. for employer branding and in recruitment) and to communicate within the workforce. However, both sides should be aware that the use of social media sites may potentially pose threats. Employees may share information about the employer which may lead to …

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Revisions to the Maternity Protection Act

Recently, the German Federal Cabinet approved a draft law which will amend the Maternity Protection Act (Mutterschutzgesetz). According to the coalition’s plans, the reform will come into force on 1 January 2017. The key changes are: Increase of the period of protection (during which women cannot work) after the birth of a child with disabilities up to 12 weeks; Maternity leave for schoolgirls and students, and during internships; Similar level of protection throughout different professional …

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Update on German Labour Leasing Laws – Coalition Agreement

According to Federal Minister Andrea Nahles (SPD), the coalition have now made a breakthrough on proposals to amend the German labour leasing laws. After a meeting of the coalition committee on 10 May 2016, the participants agreed on “clear rules” for employees and employers. They clearly agreed on the principle of “Equal pay for work of equal value” and that no more loopholes will be permitted. The new draft apparently contains provisions relating to companies …

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Damages for harassment at the workplace

Unfair treatment at the workplace only qualifies as harassment if it based on continuing hostile and discriminatory behavior that follows a purpose not protected by the legal system and infringes on an individual’s personality or similar rights (judgment by the Higher Labour Court (Landesarbeitsgericht, LAG) Rheinland-Pfalz, 30 November 2015, docket no. 3 Sa 371/15). In this case, the employee sued for damages on the grounds of harassment at the workplace. He claimed that he was …

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Circus artists: Employees or independent contractors?

The Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht, BAG) ruled on 11 August 2015 (docket number 9 AZR 98/14) that where an activity agreed by contract may typically be performed in an employment relationship as well as by an independent contractor, the decision of the parties regarding the type of contract has to be considered as part of the necessary overall balance when assessing the employment status. Individual aspects of the performance of the contract may only change its legal character contrary …

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Ordinary termination of employment due to sickness

A decision of the German Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht) on 13 May 2015 considered an employer’s termination of an employment contract based on personal reasons (the employee’s long term sickness absence) where there was no prior operational integration management (betriebliches Eingliederungsmanagement). The German Federal Labour Court indicated that the requirement on the employer to prove its case in judicial process increases  if an employer terminates an employment contract due to personal sickness and there has …

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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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Employee data protection – an increasingly onerous task?

In Brussels, the EU Commission, the Council and the Parliament are currently negotiating the final version of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in what is known as the trilogue discussions. Whilst there are still considerable differences between the three drafts in play one thing is sure: together with the individual fines, reputational implications for violations of data protection law will increase substantially.   The GDPR will replace the rather outdated European Data Protection Directive …

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Second chance by termination

The Higher Labor Court Baden-Württemberg (Landesarbeitsgericht Baden-Württemberg) ruled on 6 May 2015 (ref. no. 4 Sa 94/14) that a termination in the probationary period according to the German Employment Dismissal Act, which extends the applicable notice period, cannot be considered an unlawful circumvention of dismissal protection, where the intention is to give the employee another chance to prove himself. According to sec. 1 para. 1 of the German dismissal protection law an employee is protected …

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