New to German Employment and Labor Law?

German employment and labour law is not a closed book, although at some times it might appear as pretty much confusing. Yes, you will have to have the right access in order to answer your questions like these ones:

  • Why do I have to ask the works council ("Betriebsrat") for their approval before I introduce a code of conduct which is mandatory in the country, where I come from?
  • How do I have to proceed with disciplinary action?
  • Why do I have to continue paying an employees whom I have dismissed for a certain period of time?
  • Why is a hard working employee limited in his / her personal freedom and must not to work more than 50 hours a week?

Labour law is pretty young as an independant discipline within German private law existing as such only since 1949. There is no "German Labour Law Book" although this would make it much easier for all those who have to work with labour law. However, there is written law with more than 50 different acts and legal ordinances on one hand side and there is case law, ruled by different levels of labour courts. In addition to this, also legislation of the European Union and of the European Court of Jutice have a huge impact on labour law in Europe.

It is differentiated between individual labor law and collective labor law. Individual labor law deals with all issues on a 1-o-1 basis with individual employees, e.g.

- Does an employee have to have a written employment contract? Might an offer letter be sufficient?
- What are the specific regulations on a timely limited employment contract?
- Does an employee really have a minimum of 20 working days per year?
- Are there the same anti-discrimination regulations applicable like in the U.S. or in the UK?
- Can I fire someone at will?
- How can I terminate an employment contract (dismissal)?

Collective labor law (industrial relations) is applicable if there is a works council ("Betriebsrat"), the workers' representation, at the establishment.
The works council is elected by the employees of the establishment who are eighteen or older are entitled to vote in the works council election (employees on temporary loan may also vote at the establishment of the borrowing company under certain conditions).

If there is no works council at the establishment, an electoral board is appointed by the central works council – or by the group works council in the absence of a central works council. If there is neither a central nor a group works council, or if they take no action, an electoral board is elected at an employee meeting by the majority of those present. If no employee meeting is held, despite an invitation, or if the employee meeting does not elect an electoral board, it is appointed by the labour court at the request of at least three employees with voting rights or a trade union represented at the establishment.

The costs of the works council election and of the works council are borne by the employer.

The works council members must not to be hindered or disturbed in the conduct of their work on the works council. They may not be placed at an advantage or disadvantage as a result of this work.

Works council's rights include

  • the right to be informed
  • the right to be heard and to make constructive suggestions
  • the right to consultation and
  • the right of co-determination, which includes the right to refuse approval in certain cases.

For German people this is just "regular stuff", however, for people from abroad this could create a kind of culture shock. Thus, let's talk about German labor law and how it applies to your situation.

My expertise - your benefit
As principal consultant to the company, Volker Ostler has had extensive professional experience in blue-chip American and Canadian service companies, also and has held positions as Director of Human Resources for foreign multi-nationals operating in Germany, as well as as Vice President Human Resources for Europe and the Middle East for a leading American corporate.

In direct consultation with company clients, Volker Ostler personally structures and designs the training class, the material and the support relevant to each client's needs, further advising on situational administrative, lawful and effective cost-utility solutions in all matters HR.

The German Employment Law classes will be held in English in Germany, anywhere in Europe or any other place you prefer. Attendants' workbooks will be provided in English, too.

Volker Ostler also assists and advises on issues of strategy, structure, organisation and operations in human resources, advanced labor law issues and workplace mediation.

For further information, please, contact Volker Ostler directly: click here. All enquiries are handled in absolute confidentiality and are non-obligatory. You will find out: German labor law is not a miracle! You will feel much more comfortable then.

You also can call me directly for free: +49-228-1802-007. If you call from outside of Germany, please be aware that there might be different time zones - thank you.