Even if an employer quits his job in Germany before being entitled to a full pension, he may not necessarily be left with empty hands. Prior to January 1, 2001, any pension right became vested if the employee, at the time of quitting his job, was at least 35 years old and the employer’s promise to a pension was at least 10 years old. Alternatively, if the employee worked for that employer for at least 12 years, then the pension already became vested if the promise to a pension was at least three years old. On or after January 1, 2001, a pension became vested if the employee, at the time of quitting his job, was at least 30 years old and the promise to a pension was at least five years old.
The Federal Labor Court was recently asked to rule on a case in which an employee did not formally meet the requirements to be entitled to a pension. However, his employer had promised him that he would later be promised a pension. If one calculated the vesting period from the time that the employer had made the promise that a later promise would be made, then the employee’s pension claim would have become vested. The Federal Labor Court opined that this preliminary period must be included to determine whether a pension is vested. The court reasoned that statutory vesting periods begin to toll at the time that an employee can reasonably conclude that his commitment to the company will be compensated also in the form of a pension. The court stated that, from an employee’s perspective, the reliance is also established during the period where a precontractual promise to a pension is made in a binding manner.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.