In response to the health and safety risks resulting from a potential COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace, many employers moved to home office or mobile working arrangements earlier in 2020. For many companies, this has now proven to be a successful new way of working. This article describes the labour and employment law aspects of the implementation of home office and mobile working arrangements. It also includes a list of items that employers should consider when facilitating a remote work model.
The Federal Labour Court recently ruled in a dispute concerning a freelancer's information claim regarding her colleagues' salary levels. The judgment is the first fundamental decision with respect to the Transparency in Remuneration Act. Pursuant to this decision, both employees and freelancers who receive their compensation mainly from one client can make information claims regarding the salary levels of their colleagues with comparable duties.
After several weeks of quasi-lockdown in Germany and immense public pressure to lift limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of companies are starting to resume their activities. For some, this means increasing the number of employees who can come in and work from a company office, rather than from their homes. For others, it means a complete restart of operations. In these situations, employers are faced with myriad legal requirements with which they must comply.
The COVID-19 crisis poses many challenges for employers and employees alike. It also raises new questions about the cooperation process between employers and works councils and the latter's co-determination. Employers are wondering how best to consult works councils when regular operations are suspended. After all, business needs to continue, which can also mean that personnel measures and other changes need to be carried out – all of which are subject to works council consultation.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than half a million businesses in Germany have implemented short-time work. The temporary reduction of regular working time allows companies to reduce their personnel costs while maintaining their workforce and avoiding lay-offs. This article provides an overview of the practicable issues that employers must handle during short-time work periods.
In a recent case, the Federal Labour Court once again had to consider an employee's claim for continued remuneration in case of illness. The decision confirmed that an employee's statutory entitlement to continuation of remuneration is limited to six weeks even if they are suffering from an ongoing illness and, during that time, begin suffering from a different illness which also results in their incapacity to work (the so-called 'uniformity of incapacity' principle).
The labour courts regularly consider the enforceability of clauses in employment contracts that declare overtime hours to be deemed compensated by payment of regular remuneration. The fact that lump sum compensation clauses still appear in mostly inadmissible forms potentially results from employers' aim to save the cost of the remuneration and considerable organisational effort. However, lump sum compensation clauses are suitable only to a limited extent and involve a high risk of unenforceability.
An accurate method for calculating leave pay must take into consideration an employee's holiday, sickness, bank holiday and other paid absences; however, this can be burdensome for a company's HR department if its employees earn fluctuating rates of commission. While a certain amount of bureaucratic effort is inevitable, a well-thought-out system and properly trained HR officials will help to minimise complications and avoid negative consequences.
There is a considerable need for external personnel – partly due to the current labour market's limited supply of highly qualified specialists willing to work as employees in some areas and partly due to the increasing demand for flexibility. However, while engaging external personnel allows companies to concentrate on their core competencies and provides easier access to external know-how, it also carries considerable legal and economic risks if handled improperly.