On November 10, 2021, the Federal Labor Court ruled (Case No. 5 AZR 334/21) that employers must provide employed delivery persons using a bicycle with all the work equipment essential for the performance of their work, i.e. a bicycle and an internet-enabled smartphone. Alternatively, an appropriate financial compensation for the use of an own bicycle and mobile phone can be agreed in the employment contract.
In the case at hand, the employer had only granted its employees a repair credit in the amount of 25 cents per working hour. This credit could only be used at a repair service selected by the employer itself.
The Federal Labor Court decided that the agreed use of the employee’s own bicycle and mobile phone was unreasonably disadvantageous to the employee. A corresponding agreement in the employment contract (which was a standard form template) was therefore invalid according to the law on general terms and conditions (§ 307 (2) no. 1 in conjunction with (1) sent. 1 German Civil Code). The employer would be completely free from acquisition and operating costs by such a regulation and would carry no usage risk, e.g. for wear and tear, loss and damage. Moreover, the employee could not even freely spend the repair budget granted.
The principle applies that an employer must provide all work equipment necessary for the performance of the job and also ensure that it is in working order at its own expense (§ 611a (1) German Civil Code). If the employer wants to avoid to provide the work equipment, appropriate compensation for the use of private devices must be contractually agreed. The fact that the employees could demand reimbursement of expenses according to § 670 German Civil Code is not sufficient.
This decision is also of fundamental importance for companies not in the delivery business. Employees are increasingly using own private devices to perform their work (so-called “bring your own device”). According to the present ruling of the Federal Labor Court, the use of one’s own work equipment is still possible, however, the employer must pay appropriate financial compensation, otherwise corresponding agreements in an employment contract are invalid.