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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Independent contractor or employee – That is the question.

Time and again the question arises whether an individual is employed as an independent contractor or as an employee. Under German law there is a thin line between an employee, ie someone who performs services under an employment contract, and an independent contractor, ie someone who performs services on an independent basis. The distinction is even more difficult since is not made on the basis of the underlying contract alone, but on the way the …

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Reform of the German Parental Allowance and Parental Leave Act

German law allows employees to go on paid parental leave in addition to mandatory paid maternity leave after childbirth. Until now, the German Parental Allowance and Parental Leave Act (Bundeselterngeld- und Elternzeitgesetz, BEEG) provided for a parental allowance for a maximum duration of 12 months of paid parental leave (14 months if the other parent decides to go on parental leave as well). The allowance is paid by the state and ranges from EUR 300.00 …

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Ins and Outs re Notice Periods and Fixed-Term Contracts

Fixed-Term Contracts under German Law In Thursday’s blog, we talked about notice periods under German law. Today’s contribution will focus on fixed-term employment contracts. Can a fixed-term contract be concluded orally? No, the specific duration of the employment contract needs to be put in writing, with employer and employee signing. Oral agreements will lead to a contract with indefinite duration. Is an objective ground always required for a fixed-term contract? No, a fixed-term contract can …

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Ins and Outs re. Notice Periods and Fixed-Term Employment

Employment relationships may end for various reasons. Two of the most common reasons are termination by either party or the end of a fixed-term contract. An employment contract may be terminated by either the employer or the employee by observing the applicable notice period. Employment contracts may also be concluded for a fixed-term. If the period of time agreed upon by the parties has been reached, or if the purpose for which the fixed-term contract …

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Notice Periods May Be Tied to Years of Service

In a judgment dated September 18, 2014, the Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht, BAG) ruled that seniority-related notice periods are not discriminatory on grounds of age (docket number: 6 AZR 636/13). This judgment settles a long-term bone of contention with regard to the impact of equal treatment law on dismissal protection provisions. Sec. 622 of the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, BGB) provides for statutory notice periods depending on the time of service. The statutory minimum …

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What happens to accumulated vacation entitlements when switching from full to part-time work?

On June 11, 2014 the Higher Labour Court of Lower Saxony (Landesarbeitsgericht – LAG) dealt with the disadvantageous recalculation of unused accrued annual vacation when switching from full-time to part-time work. In accordance with a recent decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the court held that when employees change their working hours from full-time to part-time, the amount of vacation not taken may not be adjusted in such a way that the accumulated …

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The heat is on….are employees entitled to “Hitzefrei”?

The temperature in Germany has been above 25 °C (77°F) for the past few weeks and many employees might wonder whether they are entitled to a day off due to the excessive heat (“hitzefrei” as it is called in Germany). According to Sec. 3 of the Labour Protection Act (Arbeitsschutzgesetz, ArbSchG), the employer is obligated to take the necessary measures to protect the employee’s health and safety in the workplace. If the employer is not …

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The Ins and Outs of German Vacation Time and Vacation Pay

As we approach summer many employers start to intensify their staff’s vacation planning.  Vacation regulations in Germany are not as straightforward as many employers might think. Today’s blog therefore aims to provide a basic overview on German vacation rules for employers. How much vacation pay and time are employees entitled to? Starting off with the basics, German employment legislation already entitles an employee to a minimum vacation time after only one full month of employment. …

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Use it or lose it? Can employees carry over vacation beyond March 31?

As March 31 is a key date for the expiry of holiday entitlement in Germany, we want to provide you with a short update regarding holiday entitlements under German law. Pursuant to the Federal Vacation Act (Bundesurlaubsgesetz, BUrlG) every employee is entitled to a minimum of 24 paid days of vacation based on a 6 day working week. As most employees nowadays have 5 day working weeks, they are entitled to 20 days of statutory …

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Work certificates: Small change, big benefits

Until recently, on termination of employment, an employer was obliged to provide the departing employee with a work certificate (Arbeitsbescheinigung) to be presented to the employment agency. As work certificates are lengthy and can take some time to complete, this can create a major administrative burden for employers – which is often unnecessary as many employees do not apply for unemployment benefits. A welcome change to sec. 312 of the German Social Code III (Sozialgesetzbuch …

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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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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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