Frequently Asked Questions

In the following section, we have summarized typical questions which are often asked.

Questions regarding the German Works Council Constitution Act [BetrVG]:

What is the purpose of a works council?

A works council is obligated to protect the interests of employees while at the same time also considering the interests of the operation. A works council must work together with the employer in a faithful manner.

What rights of codetermination does the works council have in Germany?

The works council has very comprehensive rights in Germany. Distinctions are made as follows:

  • rights of codetermination,
  • consultation rights and
  • rights of information for the works council.
What is an arbitration committee in Germany?

It could happen, for example, that the employer and works council are unable to agree on the division of shifts or in matters of scheduling. If no agreement is reached, the decision will be made by the arbitration committee. The arbitration committee has nothing to do with court proceedings. The arbitration committee tales place at the employer’s company with a neutral judge presiding.

Can a works council demand money for its activity?

No, a works council must not demand money or other advantages or privileges for its efforts. Works council offices are an honorary responsibility.

Works council

Can a member of the works council be dismissed?

Yes, in Germany any member of the works council can be dismissed. In Germany no employees are exempt from termination.

Which actions on the part of a member of the works council are improper?

Actions by members of the works council are always improper if they take advantage of their position in the council. For example, a member of the works council must notify his superior if that member intends to do work for the works council The member may only be excused from the work required under the employment contract if in fact the efforts for the work counsel are really “necessary”.

If a member of the works council abuses the rights deriving from the German Works Council Constitution Act [BetrVG], what options for sanction are available to the employer under labour law?

The employer has many options for sanction. Dismissal without notice or impeachment proceedings might be considered.

What are impeachment proceedings?

The employer and the employees of the company have the right to file a complaint with the court with the goal of removing the member of the works council from office.

Law regarding protection against dismissal

How comprehensive is employee protection from the law regarding protection against dismissal in Germany?

How comprehensive is employee protection from the law regarding protection against dismissal in Germany?

How comprehensive is employee protection from the law regarding protection against dismissal in Germany?

In Germany, many employees enjoy special protection against dismissal. Special protection against dismissal can, for example, derive from the collective bargaining agreement. In this regard, reference is made to “permanent status” based on the collective bargaining agreement. Persons with severe disabilities also enjoy special protection against dismissal. Despite the special protection against dismissal, there are in fact very real options for terminating even the “untouchables”.

In Germany no employees are exempt from termination.

What are reasons for dismissal?

There are a number of grounds for termination in Germany:

  • termination for operational reasons
  • dismissal for reasons of conduct
  • dismissal for reasons of illness
What is termination for operational reasons?

Termination for operational reasons always requires a business decision by the employer. This business decision can, for example, be the termination of employees because of a drop in order volumes.

What is dismissal for reasons of conduct?

Dismissal for reasons of conduct is based on the behaviour of the employee.

Examples:

  • Poor workplace performance
  • Unpunctuality
  • Failure to work contractual hours
  • Theft
  • Expenses abuse
What is dismissal for reasons of illness?

If an employee is ill on a regular basis, German case law usually considers the last three years of employment. If there are sufficient absences die to illness in this period, there is a right of termination without notice.

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