Current Developments in German Labour Laws

Recent months have seen a number of legislative and case law developments in Germany in the area of labour law, of which businesses in the hotels and hospitality industry will need to be aware. In this article we summarise the key takeaways.

WHISTLEBLOWING DIRECTIVE

After significant delay and back and forth, the German Parliament adopted the Whistleblower Protection Act called “Hinweisgeberschutzgesetz” (HinSchG) on May 12, 2023.

Main aspects

  • Future obligation for companies with 50 or more employees to put in place an appropriate reporting channel to enable their employees to report breaches of EU law.
  • The HinSchG provides different procedures for internal and external reporting.
  • After an employee makes a report, the company must observe various processing deadlines.

Impact

The deadlines for implementation of reporting channels are extremely tight. Companies with at least 250 employees must already implement the requirements of the law. You should now quickly determine whether you are affected by the HinSchG and if so, how you can meet its requirements. Significant fines for non-compliance are possible.

More information on the implementation status across countries can be found here.

RECORDING OF WORKING TIME

On April 18, 2023, the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs presented draft legislation relating to the Working Time Act (which imposes maximum weekly working hours for employees).

The draft legislation sets out provisions on the form of working time recording that employers must use, who is responsible for recording employee working time, and when time must be recorded.

Obligations for the employer

  • Electronic recording of the daily working time for all employees on the day when the work is performed.
  • Keeping the time sheets for at least two years and keeping them available in the event of an inspection by the supervisory authorities.
  • Upon request, the employer is obliged to inform the employees about the recorded working time and to provide them with a copy of the time sheets.

Various deviations may be permitted in a collective bargaining agreement or in a works or service agreement based on a collective bargaining agreement.

Impact

If the legislation is passed, employers will need to take care to comply with the upcoming changes around time recording. If the employer were to breach its obligations, significant fines would arise in future! The draft legislation , however, has not yet been adopted, but close monitoring of the situation is advisable. More information on the current draft can be found here.

EQUAL PAY

A woman's entitlement to equal pay for equal work cannot be circumvented by better salary negotiations by a male colleague (Federal Labour Court, ruling of 16 February 2023 - 8 AZR 450/21).

Impact

Where there are differences in remuneration for employees undertaking the same job positions, employers will be obliged to present further objective reasons which justify the different remuneration in order to avoid exposing themselves to accusations of discrimination.

LAW FOR THE FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF SKILLED LABOUR IMMIGRATION

To attract more skilled workers, a law for the further development of skilled labour immigration was recently adopted in Germany. In future, immigration of skilled workers will be based on a “three-pillar model”. The model consists of the “skilled labour pillar”, the “experience pillar” and the “potential pillar”.

Impact

The “skilled labour pillar” is the central element of skilled labour immigration.

In a significant change, it will now be possible for any person holding a qualification recognized in Germany to pursue any profession (in non-regulated professions).

With the “experience pillar”, work experience will be given more importance. As a result, it will be possible for an employee with two years of professional experience and a professional or university degree recognized by the state in the country of acquisition to work in Germany if he or she can prove they have an employment contract with a sufficiently high salary.

The “potential pillar” is the third pillar and provides the so-called "opportunity card" as a new residence permit for job seeking. The opportunity card offers the possibility of trial work or secondary employment.

In addition, many other changes will be made, especially concerning the EU Blue Card for which the (salary) hurdles are massively reduced and parent immigration will be allowed.

CONCLUSION

It remains to be seen how the new regulations will prove themselves in practice and whether the law will sufficiently combat the shortage of skilled labour, but the new law in relation to skilled labour immigration brings along some big changes in the German immigration system that can in particular be relevant for the hotel industry.

More information on the changes can be found here.

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