Answer ... Unlike many other countries, Germany does not have a single employment act, but rather a patchwork of statutes that individually regulate various aspects of the employment relationship. General contractual matters are governed by the German Civil Code. Special laws that pertain to employment include the following:
- the Dismissal Protection Act;
- the Minimum Pay Act;
- the Working Time Act;
- the Sick Leave Pay Act;
- the Equal Treatment Act;
- the Pay Transparency Act;
- the Act on Part-Time and Fixed-Term Contracts;
- the Act on Temporary Hiring-out of Employees;
- the Maternal Leave Act;
- the Parental Leave Act;
- the Company Pension Scheme Act;
- the Collective Bargaining Agreement Act; and
- the Works Constitution Act.
In addition to these and other statutes, court rulings are of utmost importance, as some aspects of labour and employment law – such as the laws on industrial action – have a constitutional basis only and thus have mostly been developed by the courts.
Answer ... Contractual stipulations between employer and employee may be altered (to the benefit of the employee) by collective labour law agreements – that is, collective bargaining agreements and/or works council agreements. As a consequence, it must always be checked whether a collective bargaining agreement and/or works council agreement is applicable.
Answer ... Under German law, an agreement between employer and employee that the latter will do specific work for specific remuneration constitutes an employment contract; a particular form is not required. As for any contract, both parties need only agree on the core conditions (ie, working time, remuneration and identity of contractual parties).
Pursuant to EU Directive 91/533/EEC, the employer must provide the employee in writing, within one month of commencement of employment, with key information regarding the employment relationship (ie, identity of employer, commencement date, whether the contract is fixed term or indefinite, place of work, job duties, remuneration, working hours, annual holiday leave, notice periods and reference to applicable collective bargaining and works council agreements).
At the same time, statutory law requires the written form for particular clauses – most importantly, post-contractual non-compete clauses and fixed-term clauses. As most employment contracts provide for termination upon the employee reaching retirement age (which constitutes a fixed-term clause), there is de facto a general written form requirement (further to a recent decision of the Federal Labour Court).
Irrespective of the above, however, it is usual at all employment levels to provide the employee with at least a short written employment contract.