employment contract

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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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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Minimum wage increase

The statutory minimum wage increases: to 9.19 euros on 1 January 2019 and to 9.35 euros per hour on 1 January 2020. This has been decided by the minimum wage commission. The increase is higher than expected. The minimum wage is currently 8.84 euros gross per hour. Every two years, the Minimum Wage Commission (which consists of representatives of employers, unions and science) advises on adjusting the amount. . In doing so, it examines the …

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Reduction of a Special Payment Possible Despite Unrestricted Granting for Years

On 23 August 2017 the Federal Labour Court decided that despite the unrestricted granting of a special payment for multiple years, the employer may reduce the amount of a special payment in the future provided that the employment agreement contains a reservation in this respect (docket number 10 AZR 97/17). The employee and later plaintiff was employed by the defendant from 1999 and received through the years, in addition to her regular salary, a Christmas …

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Penalty clause unenforceable where non-compete obligation is invalid

If a post-contractual non-compete obligation is invalid and therefore non-binding, a penalty clause intended to protect this clause is unenforceable (judgment of the Solingen labour court dated 20 June 2017, docket number 3 Ca 153/17). The employee worked for a travel agent and had mainly sold cruises. The employee’s contract included a post-contractual non-compete obligation for the duration of three months post-termination.  After leaving the company, she joined another travel agent. Under statutory law, 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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Non-compete clauses – No Compensation for Abstention – Severability Clause

Non-compete provisions valid for the period after an employment relationship has ended are invalid unless the agreement provides for a compensation payment of 50% of the employee’s former salary during the entire duration of the post-contractual non-compete obligation. This decision by the German Federal Employment Court (docket no. 10 AZR 448/15, dated March 22, 2017) was made after a plaintiff filed a claim for monthly compensation for abstention after she had her employment contract terminated. …

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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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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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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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