International Employment Law Developments

Germany to Boost Works Council Rights Amid the Pandemic

The Federal Cabinet has introduced a draft bill to make it easier for employees to establish and elect works councils and to facilitate the works councils’ work in an increasingly digitalized work environment, the “Betriebsrätemodernisierungsgesetz“.

Less Red Tape and More Protection

The draft bill intends to facilitate the establishment of works councils, in particular in smaller companies and to strengthen the protection of the employees involved. To justify the need of the draft bill, the Federal Cabinet relies on statistics according to which only 9 % of the operations in western Germany with works council capacity have elected a works council. Employers shall be hindered to prevent the election of a works council in a more effective manner than before.

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Update: Occupational Health and Safety During the Pandemic

For as long as the threat of infection from COVID-19 remains, businesses will have to maintain a safe and healthy workplace to an increased degree. In order to clarify and sort out the large number of recommendations, the German government has updated the SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Health and Safety Standard for employers from April 2020 of which we had highlighted the key points here. It has also updated the SARS-CoV-2- Occupational Health and Safety Rule which serves as concretization of the Health and Safety Standard. READ MORE

Germany: New Right to Work From Home During the Pandemic

On 19 January 2021, the German Chancellor and Federal Prime Ministers passed a new resolution on further measures to combat the Corona pandemic.

The Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs implemented this resolution in a new ordinance, the Corona-ArbSchV, which will enter into force on Wednesday, January 27, 2021 and will initially apply for a limited period until March 15, 2021. READ MORE

Mobile Working in Germany – New Draft Bill Currently Under Discussion

The legal framework for regular work in the mobile office is currently still lacking in Germany—the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs wants to close this gap.

The German government coalition parties have always expressed their intention to support mobile work in Germany. It seems that these endeavours are picking up pace slowly but surely. In the first step, the minister of labor and social affairs had issued a draft bill in October 2020 containing an employee entitlement to work remotely for 24 days per year. This draft has been widely criticized by employers’ associations and legal experts. Against this background, a second draft has been worked out by the end of November. This draft bill is currently being discussed within the Federal Cabinet. READ MORE

Crowdworkers Can Be Employees in Germany!

The German Federal Labor Court decided in an eagerly awaited ruling that crowdworkers or microtaskers can be classified as employees under German employment law. The decision will likely have significant impacts for the so-called gig economy. Although the ruling will not render the business model entirely impossible, platform operators will have to review and possibly reconsider their processes. READ MORE

COVID-19 Germany: The New Corona-Warn-App – What Employers Need to Know

A few days ago, the much-anticipated official Corona-Warn-App, commissioned by the German government, went live – and has since been downloaded over 10 million times. The goal is to convince as many people as possible to use the track-and-trace-app to curb the spread of COVID-19. While extensive use of the app can be a benefit for employers who are looking at re-opening and return to work planning, some legal questions come up in the employment context.

How Does the App Work? READ MORE

Immigration Proclamation: What does this mean for your foreign national workforce and hiring?

On June 22, 2020, the White House issued the “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak” which is the latest in a series of U.S. immigration restrictions purportedly tied to the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on the American economy. READ MORE

COVID-19 Germany: Can You Terminate Employment During Short-Time Work?

The COVID-19 crisis led to drastic changes in employment. Although measures have been taken by the German legislator and the government to secure jobs, staff cuts appear inevitable for many companies as the crisis progresses. The following blogpost explains how short-time work and layoffs relate to each other and what companies must do to effectively terminate employment.

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COVID-19 Germany: Working From Home and Employer Reimbursement of Remote-Work Expenses

Due to the pandemic-related increase in remote work, questions come up who will end up bearing additional costs – such as increased electricity costs and expenses for cell phone and internet plan. There is also a need for clarification regarding occupational health and safety when working remotely. READ MORE

Reducing Salary Costs Across the Globe – An Overview of COVID-19-Related Work Hour Reduction and Furlough Schemes

Can companies reduce the working hours and/or pay of their international workforce?

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt business across the globe, many international companies are continuing to consider and implement cost-saving measures to protect their financial health. One of the major points for consideration is whether multinational companies may reduce the working hours and/or pay of their international workforce. READ MORE