On 24 November 2021, the “traffic light” coalition consisting of SPD, FDP and Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (The Greens) reached an agreement on the coalition treaty. However, this treaty is still subject to approval by the individual party bodies.
The “traffic light” coalition is committed to shaping the modern business world. It intends to open up new professional opportunities while offering job security and flexibility at the same time.
Some points on the employment agenda of the “traffic light” coalition may bring advantages but also disadvantages for companies in the next legislative period:
- The statutory minimum wage should be increased to 12.00 EUR without the previously planned steps.
- The maximum daily working time of eight hours per day will remain in the German Working Hours Act. However, trade unions and employers are to allow flexible working time models with the support of the Government. Already in 2022, there is to be a temporary transitional arrangement, according to which employees will be able to organize their working time more flexible on the basis of a collective bargaining agreement under certain conditions and in compliance with certain deadlines.
- During an experimental phase, the limited possibility of creating deviations from the current maximum daily working time is to be created on a collective legal basis.
- Flexible working time models, such as trust-based working time, are to remain possible.
- The grand coalition already intended to introduce a legal right to work from home in the last legislative period, but this failed. The “traffic light” coalition is now taking up this proposal and wants to strengthen the rights of employees in this respect. Home office is to be distinguished from telework, so that the Workplace Ordinance no longer applies. Employees in suitable jobs are to be given the right to discuss mobile working and home office. Employers should only be allowed to object to object to employees’ wishes if operational concerns conflict with them. An objection must be neither irrelevant nor arbitrary. However, deviating collective bargaining agreements and internal company regulations should remain possible.
- The “traffic light” coalition also wants to make mobile working EU-wide possible without any problems, which is currently not easily the case because of the different regulations in the individual EU member states.
- The limits for mini-jobs are to be raised to 520.00 EUR (instead of the previous 450.00 EUR) and midi-jobs to 1,600.00 EUR (instead of 1,300.00 EUR).
- The extensive changes in the law on fixed-term employment contracts, which were still included in the coalition agreement of the grand coalition, are not to be implemented. Only the possibility of budgetary fixed-term employment contracts (for public employers) is to be Chain fixed-term employment relationships are to be counteracted by limiting the duration of fixed-term employment contracts with the same employer to a maximum of six years. Deviations are to be possible only within narrow limits. Apparently, there are to be no changes with regard to fixed-term employment contracts without a factual reason.
- The introduction of (partial) training time is intended to make it easier for employees to reconcile work and continuing professional development. The prerequisite for this is always an agreement between the employer and the employee.
- Similar to the short-time allowance, there is to be a qualification allowance in future with which the Federal Employment Agency can enable companies affected by structural change to qualify employees in order to keep them in the company and secure skilled workers. The prerequisite for this is to be a works agreement.
- In addition, the transfer short-time allowance is to be extended and the “transfer company” instrument is to be further developed.
- The protection against dismissal for employees on parental leave will be expanded to three months after returning to work.
- Tax relief in connection with working from home will be extended for employees until 31 December 2022.
- Online works council elections will be conducted in a pilot project. It is very likely that this project will be activated before the regular works council elections coming next year.
- Works councils should be able to decide for themselves whether they work in analogue or digital form.
- The obstruction of democratic co-determination by the employer is to be classified as an official offence in the future, i.e. prosecuted ex officio by the public prosecutor’s office.
- Trade union access to the workplace should be adapted to the use of modern media. For this reason, trade unions should be given digital access to the business operation.
- Public procurement by the federal government should be linked to compliance with a representative collective bargaining agreement for the respective sector in order to strengthen collective bargaining coverage.
- Company spin-offs to escape collective bargaining obligations are to be prevented.
Of course, each of these plans still needs to be implemented in law. The previous government did not manage to implement all the labor law plans of the coalition agreement during the legislative period. It therefore remains to be seen how and with what speed the “traffic light” coalition will pursue its goals in relation to labor law issues. We will of course keep you informed.