termination

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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Notices of termination may not be signed before mass dismissal notification has been submitted

With its judgment dated 21 August 2018, the Higher Regional Labour Court of Baden-Wurttemberg (Landesarbeitsgericht Baden-Württemberg) decided that the dismissal of an employee as part of a mass redundancy is invalid if the notice of termination is signed prior to receipt of the mass dismissal notification to the authority. The time of the receipt of notice of termination by the employee is irrelevant (docket number: 12 Sa 17/18). Under German law, the Employment Office must …

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Dismissal on suspicion (“Verdachtskündigung”) – reasonable time period to give a statement regarding the accusations

On 21 March 2018, the state labor court of Schleswig-Holstein ruled that a valid “dismissal on suspicion” (“Verdachtskündigung”) requires that the affected employee had been granted a reasonable time period to give a statement regarding the accusations (docket number 3 Sa 398/17). A “dismissal on suspicion” is void if the employer issues the notice of termination after having granted a time period of only two working days to the employee to issue his statement regarding …

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Threat to commit suicide or to run amok can justify a dismissal for cause with immediate effect

On 29 June 2017 the Federal Labour Court decided that a serious threat of committing suicide or to run amok can be a compelling reason to terminate an employment relationship for cause with immediate effect if the employee thereby seeks to exert pressure on the employer (docket number 2 AZR 47/16). The employee and later plaintiff had been employed by the German federal state of Hesse since 1992 and worked – for most of the …

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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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Suspicion of pretended sickness and activities for a competing company generally justified surveillance by a detective and immediate termination for cause

A new judgment of the Federal Labour Court (dated 29.6.2017, docket number 2 AZR 597/16) supports previous judgments concerning termination based on suspicion of breach of duties and furthermore sheds  light on the permissibility of carrying out surveillance on employees through a detective to clarify such suspicions. In the case at hand the employee and employer argued about the effectiveness of an extraordinary dismissal. The employee was repeatedly certified unfit to work in 2014 and …

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Restructuring of a business in Germany – an overview

Where restructuring measures comprising collective redundancies become necessary, the employer must fulfil a number of legal requirements to successfully implement such measures. While it is sometimes tempting to implement the necessary restructuring in a way that ignores the various legal requirements (e.g. co-determination of the works council etc.), there are only exceptional situations in which such a way does not lead to a total failure of the original plan. For the employer, unlike for the …

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Ineffectiveness of a suspicion termination after the disappearance of 115.000 Euro

In order to protect employees from termination where there is suspicion that they have committed a crime, such a termination is subject to very strict conditions. In particular, the probability that the suspected employee is in fact guilty of the assumed crime has to be so high that the suspicion is considered urgent. The urgency of a suspicion can only be assumed if there are no reasons for also suspecting other employees of the committed …

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Employees exempted from their duties are allowed to take part in a corporate event

On 22 June 2017 (docket number 8 CA 5233/16) the labour court in Cologne found that an employee is allowed to take part in company outings and events although he is on garden leave. The employee and subsequently plaintiff had been working for the employer, an association that operates retirement homes, for almost three decades. Triggered by a change in the employer’s executive board, the employee agreed to be on garden leave for the last …

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Inadmissible evidence through installation of a keylogger

Using a software keylogger may not always be much help in supporting a termination for cause, as a recent case before the Federal Labour Court shows (judgment dated 27 July 2017, docket number 2 AZR 681/16). The employee had worked for the employer since 2011. When opening up its network, the company informed employees that internet and software use would be monitored. The company monitored keyboard use and also produced screenshots regularly. As a result …

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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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Special case of termination protection: Third parties’ pressure to terminate an employee

The German right of termination is known to be quite strict. A reason for termination is always necessary. It is herefore surprising that such a reason exists even if third parties exert pressure on the employer to terminate the contract (“Druckkündigung”). The basics are presented below. By judgment of 15.12.2016 ( docket number 2 AZR 431/15), the Federal Labour Court of Germany (“Bundesarbeitsgericht”) has now further developed the information and defence duties of the employer …

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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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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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