By judgement of 19 February 2013 (docket no.: 9 AZR 461/11), the
Federal Labour Court confirmed that an employee can demand the
reduction of his/her working hours twice during parental leave.
This also applies if the employer and employee reached an agreement
at the beginning of the parental leave on the scope of the working
hours but subsequently extend the parental leave. The agreement
does not count as one exercise of the double right to reduce
During parental leave, employees can work part-time of up to 30
hours per week. In this connection, the employer and employee
should amicably agree on the scope and distribution of the working
hours. Should they be unable to reach agreement, the employee can
demand a total of two times during the entire period of the
parental leave a reduction of the working hours existing prior to
the parental leave (Sec. 15 paras. 6 and 7 German Federal Act on
Parental Benefit and Parental Leave [Bundeselterngeld- und
Elternzeitgesetz, BEEG]). The employer can only oppose this by
representing that urgent operational requirements oppose the
The Federal Labour Court has now decided that the double
possibility of reducing working hours is not "used up" in
that the employer and employee have amicably agreed on a reduction.
An employee had reached an agreement with her employer at the
beginning of her two-year parental leave on the reduction of her
working hours: she was initially to work 15 hours a week, after a
specific time this would then be increased to 20 hours per week.
Shortly before the expiry of the two years the employee claimed a
further year of parental leave and claimed the right to continue
working 20 hours per week from her employer. The employer refused,
claiming that the employee's right to demand the reduction of
her working hours and to judicially enforce such demand had been
exhausted through the amicable regulation reached at the beginning
of the parental leave.
Whilst the previous instance ruled in the employer's favour,
the Federal Labour Court ruled that the amicable reduction of the
working hours has no influence upon the employee's right to be
able to twice enforce her wish to reduce her working hours.
Accordingly, after the end of the period covered by the first
agreement the employee can still demand the reduction of her
working hours and in case of doubt judicially enforce it.
The reasoning of the Federal Labour Court is still awaited; the
decision is presently only available as a press release. However,
as a result of the decision it is already clear that employees have
great flexibility in how they can structure their work during
parental leave. The employer's possibilities of safeguarding
its interests through specific and - to the extent possible -
long-term personnel planning, on the other hand, are severely
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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