Living and working in Germany

18 October 2017

  •   Population: 82.8 million (2017)
  •   Real GDP growth: 1.9% (2016)
  •   Unemployment rate: 4.1% (2016)

Data source: Eurostat

Eurofound provides research, data and analysis on a wide range of social and work-related topics. This information is largely comparative, but also offers country-specific information for each of the 28 EU Member States. Most information is available in English but some has been translated to facilitate access at national level.

Eurofound strives to strengthen the ongoing link between its own work and national policy debates and priorities related to quality of life and work. Increasingly important in this context is the Europe 2020 growth and jobs strategy launched in 2010, which has five headline targets, covering employment through to social inclusion and poverty reduction. The strategy is implemented in the context of the European Semester process – the EU's annual cycle of economic policy guidance and surveillance – which ensures that Member States keep their budgetary and economic policies in line with their EU commitments through, in part, National Reform Programmes. These programmes form the basis for the European Commission's proposals for country-specific recommendations (CSRs) for each Member State.

European Commission: The European Semester
European Commission: The European Semester - EU country-specific recommendations
European Commission: European Semester documents for Germany

2015 Eurofound EWCS survey results in Germany: 95% of people consider themselves good at their work

Survey results

Satisfaction with quality of life
Data source: 2012 EQLS survey

Ability to choose or change
methods of work

Data source: 2015 EWCS survey

Possibility to accumulate overtime
for days off

Data source: 2013 ECS survey

News and quarterly country updates

Eurofound contacts in Germany

Correspondents in Germany

Correspondents report on topics related to developments in the countries working life and inform Eurofound’s pan-European comparative analysis. Read more

Consortium Institute of Economic and Social Research in the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung (WSI) / Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW)

Eurofound governing board members from Germany

Eurofound's Governing Board represents the social partners and national governments of all Member States, as well as the European Commission. Read more

Thomas Voigtländer​ Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS)

Lutz Mühl​ German Federation of Chemical Employers' Associations (BAVC)

Stefan Gran Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB)

Related content

Other country-specific information may be available in certain areas on demand. Please feel free to contact your country contact at Eurofound for this or any other information at information@eurofound.europa.eu

Working life in Germany

About

  • Author: Birgit Kraemer
  • Institution: WSI

This profile describes the key characteristics of working life in Germany. It aims to complement other EurWORK research by providing the relevant background information on the structures, institutions and relevant regulations regarding working life. This includes indicators, data and regulatory systems on the following aspects: actors and institutions, collective and individual employment relations, health and well-being, pay, working time, skills and training, and equality and non-discrimination at work. The profiles are updated annually.

Key figures

Key figures

Comparative figures on working life in Germany

 

2011

2016

% (point) change
2011–2016

Germany

EU28

Germany

EU28

Germany

EU28

GDP per capita

33300

25800

34500

26900

3.6%

4.3%

Unemployment rate – total

5.8

9.7

4.1

8.5

-1.7

-1.2

Unemployment rate – women

5.6

9.8

3.7

8.7

-1.9

-1.1

Unemployment rate – men

6.1

9.6

4.4

8.4

-1.7

-1.2

Unemployment rate – youth

8.5

21.7

7.0

18.7

-1.5

-3.0

Employment rate – total

77.3

71.1

78.0

73.0

0.7

1.9

Employment rate – women

71.9

64.8

73.6

67.4

1.7

2.6

Employment rate – men

82.7

77.5

82.2

78.6

-0.5

1.1

Employment rate – youth

52.4

42.5

49.3

41.6

-3.1

-0.9

Source: Eurostat - Real GDP per capita (chain linked volumes [2010], in EUR) and percentage change 2011-2016 (both based on tsdec100). Unemployment rate by sex and age - annual average, % [une_rt_a]; Employment rate by sex and age - annual average, % [lfsi_emp_a].

Background

Background

Economic and labour market context

Between 2011 and 2016, Germany enjoyed some GDP growth of 3.6%, below the EU average for the same period (4.3%). Unemployment rates for all categories continued to decrease and were below the EU average figures, in particular youth unemployment, which stood at 7.0% in 2016, well below the EU average for that year (18.7%). Employment figures in 2011–2016 for all groups were above the EU average, although there was some slight decrease for men (-0.5 percentage points). 

More information on:

Legal context

The basic structures of the German industrial relations system have not altered since its inception after the Second World War.

The Basic law (Grundgesetz, GG) and the Collective Agreement Act from 1949 (Tarifvertragsgesetz, TVG) guarantee the freedom of coalition and the autonomy of trade unions and employer organisations/single employers in concluding binding collective agreements.

Interest representation of workers is regulated under the Works Constitution Act from 1952 (amended 1972, Betriebsverfassungsgesetz, BetrVG) resp. the Staff Representation Act from 1955 (Personalvertretungsgesetz) which provide for the right to elect a worker representation in establishments and public administrative units with at least five employees and which define consultation and codetermination rights.

Co-determination Acts form 1951 and 1976 settle the worker representation in supervisory boards of companies with 2,000 employees.

Since the post-war years, case law has been of utmost importance for developing legislation. Under the new government coalition of Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and Social Democrats (SPD), however, some major legislative amendments were executed.

Reacting to a decline in collective bargaining coverage, in August 2014 Parliament passed the Act on the Promotion of Collective Bargaining Autonomy (Tarifautonomiestärkungsgesetz). It contains the following.

  • The Act on a Minimum Wage (Mindestlohngesetz, MiLoG) which sets a statutory minimum wage of €8.50/hour from 1 January 2015 onwards (€8.84/hour from 1 January 2017), establishes a tripartite minimum wage commission and defines the inspection procedures.
  • An amendment of the Collective Agreement Act (TVG) and of the Posted Workers Act (Arbeitnehmerentsendegesetz, AEntG) aimed at facilitating the extension of sectoral collective agreements. The previous requirement that employers bound by the collective agreement in question must employ at least 50% of all workers in the sector was removed and substituted by the requirement of a ‘general interest’.
  • An amendment of the Labour Court Act (Arbeitsgerichtsgesetz, AGG) aimed at accelerating decisions on the representativeness of collective agreements. Local labour courts were exempt from the right to take respective decisions.

A second reform, introduced in 2015, aimed to minimise industrial conflicts at company-level. The Act on Collective Bargaining Unity (Tarifeinheitsgesetz) stipulates that in cases where trade unions covering the same group of workers in a company do not cooperate in collective bargaining but seek to reach different collective agreements with the same employer, only the agreement settled by the trade union with the largest membership in the company shall be applied. The reform has received the backing of employer organisations and of some but not all trade unions. Some of the latter have filed complains with the Federal Constitutional Court. The case is pending and it is expected that a final decision will be taken by mid 2017.

Industrial relations context

Over the past decades, industrial relations have faced some major challenges, as outlined below.

The German industrial relations system was shaped in the post-war period in west Germany; transferring the west German industrial relations system to the eastern part of the country after reunification has remained a challenge, as the east is characterised by a lack of large manufacturing companies and a dominance of small and medium-sized establishments (SME). Collective bargaining coverage, as well as works council coverage, has stayed significantly lower in the eastern part of the country. In 2015, 59% of west German workers were covered by a collective agreement compared to 49% of east German workers; the share of workers in establishments with a works council stood at 42% in west and at 33% in east Germany.

One overall challenge has been the decline in membership of employer organisations, due to difficulties in organising young establishments, small and medium-sized enterprises and enterprises in young economic sectors. As a result, various sectoral employer organisations have decided to offer membership without the binding obligation to apply the sectoral collective agreements (the so-called Mitgliedschaft ohne Tarifbindung).

On the other side, trade unions saw a steep decline in membership in traditional male-dominated sectors in the 1990s and in the following decades had problems organising the growing number of female workers in private service sectors. Spurred by the labour market reforms of the early 2000s, the growth of non-standard forms of employment has become a constant challenge. However, more recent trade union membership figures give clear signs of recovery. It should be said that the established trade unions are not the only one profiting from this trend. A number of small occupational trade unions have been competing with the established actors, particularly in privatised large service companies.

As of 2017, collective bargaining and works council coverage are still strong in the core zone of the industrial relations system – large manufacturing companies – and considerably weaker in the private service sectors. In West Germany, some 46% of all manufacturing workers are covered by a collective agreement and are also represented by a works council – compared to only 22% of all West German service workers and to only 10% of all construction workers (data from 2015 – Kohaut/Ellguth 2016).

Since 2013, the government coalition of Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and Social Democrats (SPD) has been in power and has enacted the above-mentioned legislation on the Promotion of Collective Bargaining Autonomy and on Collective Bargaining Unity.

Actors and institutions

Actors and institutions

Trade unions, employers’ organisations and public institutions play a key role in the governance of the employment relationship, working conditions and industrial relations structures. They are interlocking parts in a multilevel system of governance that includes the European, national, sectoral, regional (provincial or local) and company levels. This section looks into the main actors and institutions and their role in Germany.

Public authorities involved in regulating working life

In the post-war years, in reaction to the Nazi past, the legislator gave the public authorities a rather limited role. The Collective Agreements Act (Tarifvertragsgesetz, TVG) from 1949 guarantees trade unions, employer organisations and single employers autonomy in collective bargaining. In the case of juridical dispute, the labour courts decide on the right of an organisation to conclude a collective agreement and on the validity of a collective agreement. The social partners may ask the labour minister to extend an agreement.

Under the Minimum Wage Act (Mindestlohngesetz, MiloG) from 2014, the labour minister appoints the chair of the Minimum Wage Commission of the social partners which recommends the level of the statutory minimum wage to the labour minister and the Federal Cabinet takes the final decision.

The national Customs Service, a unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance, controls compliance with the statutory minimum wage (Minimum Wage Act, MiloG), the Posted Workers Directive (Arbeitnehmerentsendegesetz, ArbEntG), the Temporary Agency Work Act (Arbeitnehmerüberlassungsgesetz, AÜG) and the Act Against Undeclared Work (Schwarzarbeitsbekämpfungsgesetz, SchwarzGZ).

The labour ministries of the 16 federal states are in charge of the inspection of occupational safety and health regulation and of the working time regulation. Due to the federal system, the organisation of labour inspection differs depending on the federal state.

Representativeness

The concept of ‘organisational representativeness’ is unknown in the German system. The alternative concept is ‘collective bargaining capacity’ (Tariffähigkeit). It has a basis in the Basic Law (freedom of coalition), the Collective Bargaining Act and is governed by the rulings of the Federal Labour Court. Trade unions and employer organisations have the right to engage in collective bargaining if collective bargaining is designated a statutory task (Article 2 of the Collective Bargaining Act). Based on ruling by the Federal Labour Court, the main indicators of ‘collective bargaining capacity’ are organisational independence (of the opposite party and third parties), internal democracy and social strength (soziale Mächtigkeit) to push the opposite party to the bargaining table and to enforce the implementation of collective bargaining outcomes.

More information on representativeness of the main social partner organisations can be found in Eurofound’s representativeness study of the cross-industry social partners or in Eurofound’s sectoral representativeness studies.

Trade unions

About trade union representation

All workers – including civil servants – have the right to join a trade union. Self-employed workers may join a trade union, but under law are not considered ‘workers’ and are not organised by all trade unions.

The trade unions’ collective bargaining domain excludes civil servants, high skilled workers and managerial staff above negotiated pay levels (außertarifliche Angestellte) and in most cases self-employed workers. Also their domains typically do not extend to establishments and organisations managed under church law. The recent trend is a halt in membership decline.

Trade union membership has stabilized in recent years. OECD figures indicate a slow decrease in union density. German membership figures from the three trade union peak level organisations are more positive. The positive trend in recent years can be related to the recent economic recovery and to new organising strategies.

Trade union membership and trade union density

 

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Source

Trade union density in terms of active employees

18.6

18.0

17.9

17.7

n.a.

n.a.

OECD/Visser

Trade union membership in 1000s

6,325

6,300

6,297

6,330

7,809

7,808

2010-2013 figures according to OECD/Visser; 2014 and 2015 figures: own calculations based on TU membership figures (including DGB, dbb, CGB, Marburger Bund, Cockpit, UFO)

Main trade union confederations and federations, 2015

Long name

Abbreviation

Members

Involved in collective bargaining

Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund

(German Confederation of Trade Unions)

DGB

6,095,513

No with one exception: mandated by DGB affiliates to engage in collective bargaining with employers of temporary agency work sector

Industriegewerkschaft Metall

(German Metalworkers Union)

IG Metall

2,273,743

Yes

Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft

(United Services Union)

Ver.di

2,038,513

Yes

Deutscher Beamtenbund und Tarifunion

(German Civil Servants Union and Wage Union)

Dbb

1,294,402

Yes

Industriegewerkschaft Bergbau Chemie Energie

(Industrial Union Mining, Chemistry and Energy)

IG BCE

513,717

Yes

Industriegewerkschaft Bauen Agrar Umwelt

(Industrial Union Construction Agriculture and the Environment)

IG BAU

273,392

Yes

Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft

(Trade Union Education and Academia)

GEWGB

280,678 (source: oec kl-online.de)

Yes

Christlicher Gewerkschaftsbund (Christian Trade Union Federation)

CGB

280,000

No

Employers’ organisations

About employers’ representation

Section 9 of the German Basic Law (guaranteeing freedom of association) also applies to employer organisations. As with trade unions, employer organisations have the right to engage in collective bargaining if they are assigned to do so by their members and if collective bargaining is designated a statutory task (Section 2 of the Collective Bargaining Act). There are no further statutory regulations defining criteria for representativeness or any statutory requirement for an association.

The main development is the provision of membership without binding obligation to apply collective agreements. According to a ruling by the Federal Labour Court, employer organisations are allowed to do so, but these members may not influence the organisation on issues regulated by collective bargaining. According to a ruling by a regional labour court, craft guilds engaged in collective bargaining are prohibited to provide non-binding memberships.

Data on employers’ organisation density is not available. Presumably there is a considerable decline in members bound to collective bargaining agreements, but overall trend data cannot be given.

Employers’ organisations – membership and density

 

2012

2013

2014

2015

Source

Employers’ organisation density in terms of active employees

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

 

Employers’ organisation density in private sector establishments*

n.a.

43%

n.a.

n.a.

European company survey 2013

*Percentage of employees working in an establishment which is member of any employer organisation that is involved in collective bargaining.

Main employers’ organisations

Main employers’ organisations and confederations, 2016

Long name

Abbreviation

Members

Year

Involved in collective bargaining

Bundesvereinigung der Deutschen Arbeitgeberverbände (Employers’ (con)federation)

BDA

50 sectoral employer organisations,

14 regional employer organisations

2016

No

Zentralverband des Deutschen Handwerks

ZDH

53 Craft Chambers; 37 professional organisations

2016

No

Vereinigung der kommunalen Arbeitgeberverbände

VKA

16 organisations

2016

Yes

Tarifgemeinschaft deutscher Länder

TdL

15 regional states

2016

Yes

Gesamtverband der Arbeitgeberverbände der Metall- und Elektroindustriel

Gesamtmetall

22 employer organisations

2016

Yes

Bundesarbeitgeberverband Chemie

BAVC

10 organisations

2016

Yes

Bundesverband Großhandel Außenhandel Dienstleistungen

BGA

23 regional organisations, 45 sectoral/professional organisations

2016

Yes

Tripartite and bipartite bodies and concertation

Statutory tripartite bodies are rare in the German system. In case of the extension of a sectoral collective agreement, labour ministers cooperate with sectoral bipartite wage committee. Article 5 of the Collective Bargaining Act stipulates that the Federal Labour Ministry in cooperation with a wage committee set up by three representatives of the trade union and three representatives of the employer side may declare a sectoral agreement generally binding. Since 2009, the Posted Workers Act contains a similar regulation with regard to extension mechanisms.

In 2014, the Minimum Wage Act put in place a permanent Statutory Minimum Wage Commission which decides on the future increase in the minimum wage. The commission is composed of a chairperson set up by the federal labour minister, three trade unions and three employer representatives and two academic experts. These members and the chair are appointed by the collective bargaining partners. All individual members are appointed every five years. The decision is taken every two years.

Tripartite concertation is, however, found in the institutions of the German social security system (such as statutory unemployment, health and pension insurance). Employers and trade unions are represented on the boards of these institutions and are elected in secret ballots.

Main tripartite and bipartite bodies

Name

Type

Level

Issues covered

Mindestlohnkommission

Minimum Wage Commission

Bipartite

National

Statutory minimum wage

Not clearly defined Tarifausschuss, Tarifkommission,

Bipartite, not permanent

National

Extension

Workplace-level employee representation

Under the Works Constitution Act (Betriebsverfassungsgesetz, BetrVG), in establishments with five workers or more, all workers (except for the executive staff) are entitled to take part in elections for works councils or to become members of the works council. They do not have to be a trade union member to do so. Whilst the works council has co-determination rights as well as consultation and information rights with regard to social and health and safety issues, these rights do not extend to issues which are part of collective agreements (unless the agreement specifically allows the works council to deal with such topics).

Works councils are the main form of employee representation at the establishment level. As the latest data from the IAB establishment panels show, 9% of establishments (covering some 42% of employees) in the western German private sector had a works council in 2015. This compares with 8% of eastern German establishments, covering 33% of employees.

Regulation, composition and competences of the bodies

 

Regulation

Composition

Competences of the body

Involved in company level collective bargaining?

Thresholds/rules when they need to be/can be set up

(e.g. Works council)

Betriebsrat

By law

Workers including workers on fixed-term and marginal contracts. Executive and managerial staff is excluded

Competence to negotiate and conclude works agreements with single employer

Rules set by Works Constitution Act

Employee representation at establishment level

In the figure, we see a comparison between Germany and European Union for the people with 'Establishment size : All' when asked 'Official structure of employee representation present at establishment'. For the 'Yes' answer, Germany's score is lower than the European Union score. For the 'No' answer, Germany's score is higher than the European Union score. The National comparisons visualisation presents a comparative overview for the values of all answers between two selected countries.

Source: ECS 2013. Private sector establishments with more than 10 employees. Eurofound data visualisation.

Collective bargaining

Collective bargaining

Bargaining system

The Collective Bargaining Act stipulates that trade unions, employer organisations and single employers can legally conclude collective agreements. The concluded agreements are binding and are to be applied by all full members of the employer organisation (unless the organisation offers membership without binding obligation to apply the agreement). The dominant feature of collective bargaining in Germany is sectoral collective bargaining, and agreements are typically concluded at regional level. Single-employer agreements concluded by a company or firm and a trade union are of minor importance. Representative survey data from 2015 by the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) do not show an increase in company level agreements in recent years.

Wage bargaining coverage

Collective wage bargaining coverage of employees at different levels

Level

 

Source

Comments

All levels

70%

2013 – ECS

 

All, excluding national level

66%

2013 – ECS

 

All levels

54%

2010 – SES

 

All levels

59% (West DE)

49% (East DE)

2015– Ellguth & Kohaut

of all private sector employees

Sources: Eurofound, European Company Survey 2013 (ECS), private sector companies with establishments >10 employees (NACE B-S) – multiple answers possible; Eurostat, Structure of Earnings survey, companies >10 employees (NACE B-S), single answer: more than 50% of employees covered by such an agreement. More information on methodology, see here. Ellguth, P. Kohaut, S. (2016), based on data by the IAB Establishment Panel; representatitive survey of the Federal Institute for Employment Research (IAB) which covers private sector companies with establishments with more than one worker.

Data by the European Company Survey and national sources are not easily comparable as the ECS provides data on the occupational level and the national cross-sectoral level which are unknown categories to German statistics. National data may be more reliable than the ECS as the IAB source is a representative panel surveying 16,000 establishments.

According to the national source, there has been an ongoing decline in both collective bargaining coverage and in works council coverage, although less pronounced in recent years.

Bargaining levels

Levels of collective bargaining, 2016

 

National level (Intersectoral)

Sectoral level

Company level

 

Wages

Working time

Wages

Working time

Wages

Working time

Principal or dominant level

   

X

X

   

Important but not dominant level

       

X

x

Existing level

X

X

       

Articulation

National collective agreements exist in the public sector. The dominant level is the sectoral level. National (to a low extent) and sectoral collective agreements (to a growing extent) contain opening clauses to settle works agreements (concluded by works councils rather than by trade unions) at company level. The formal link between the sectoral and company level is the trade unions trying to reach the same or similar outcomes at company level as at sectoral level.

Timing of the bargaining rounds

There is no special period in which bargaining usually takes place

Coordination

Due to Germany’s federal structure and the regionalised structure of trade unions and employer organisations, the main pattern is horizontal coordination within a sector across different regions. Due to strong differences between the quality of sectoral industrial relations, pattern bargaining has lost influence; however, collective bargaining in the metal and machinery sector still plays a strong role. Vertical coordination is rare and carried out by the German Services Union (Deutscher Beamtenbund, dbb) which as the dbb wage unit in some sectors bargains on behalf of public-sector related trade union affiliates. The metal and machinery sector has typically taken a leading position.

Extension mechanisms

Collective agreements can be extended either under the Collective Agreements Act or under the Posted Workers Act. Under the former, the federal as well as the regional labour ministers may extend an agreement if the extension is approved by a bipartite wage committee. Under the Posted Workers Act, the federal labour minister may react to a plea by the collective bargaining partners and extend a sectoral agreement to the national level.

To counteract a strong decrease in extensions over the 2000s, the current government amended both acts to simplify the extension mechanism (Act on the Promotion of Collective Bargaining Autonomy, see above). Sectoral agreements can now be extended if the extension is ‘in the public interest’; previously, they had to cover at least 50% of the sectoral employees to be eligible for extension. Despite this, the number of new extensions have been very low.There are no other voluntary mechanisms of extension/ application of the terms of collective agreements.

Derogation mechanisms

Many collective agreements contain so-called opening clauses that allow derogation from collective agreements under various circumstances. The exact proportion of these clauses is unknown. There is no year in which no such clauses existed.

Expiry of collective agreements

Under Article 4 of the Collective Agreement Act, collective agreements stay valid until a new collective agreement is concluded (Nachwirkungsfrist). Workers hired after the termination of the collective agreement and before the settling of a new agreement are not covered by the expired agreement.

Other aspects of working life addressed in collective agreements 2015/16 saw other collective agreements being concluded on coping with demographic change. Several sectoral agreements had already been concluded in recent years (for example, steel sector, chemical sector). A new development are company-level agreements (for example Deutsche Bahn, Deutsche Telekom) and ‘collective demography agreements’ in service sectors, such as in hospitals. The agreements share similar cornerstones, such as introducing tools for improved human resource policies (demography analysis, OHS tools, long-term working time accounts for various leave options, options for smooth phase-outs at the end of a career, telework and lifelong learning incentives (for example, further education sabbaticals). All agreements stipulate the set-up of a so-called ‘demographic fund’ (resting on long-term working time accounts) for facilitating early retirement options.

Working conditions and health are addressed by an innovative agreement concluded by the United Services Union ver.di and Berlin-based hospital Charité, an employer of 14,000. It settles the establishment on a bilateral occupational health commission and the developing of occupational health indicators and minimum standards with regard to number of staff, overtime and work intensity.

Industrial action and disputes

Industrial action and disputes

Legal aspects

There are two main types of industrial action in Germany: the strike and the lock-out.

There is no law governing the regulation of strikes or lockouts. The Basic Law – apart from its general guarantee of the freedom of association – mentions neither. The regulation of industrial conflict has been left to separate legislation and since the legislator has remained inactive it has effectively been left to the courts. Case law has been developed by the Federal Labour Court in subsequent rulings.

A fundamental legal principle governing disputes is that industrial action must pursue an aim that can be regulated by collective agreement. Therefore, strikes and lockouts are only lawful in the context of collective bargaining and political or general strikes are considered to be unlawful. Only unions have the right to call a strike. Secondary action may be legal under certain circumstances. There is no individual right of workers to go on strike. Strikes that are not officially recognised by a union are unlawful. A ballot is not required unless specific union rules require it. Career civil servants (Beamte) are banned from striking. An unlawful strike gives rise to entitlements to damages and in particular mutual entitlements to a restraining injunction between those involved. Whether or not a strike is unlawful is in each case to be decided by the labour courts concerned.

Industrial action developments 2012–2016

 

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Source

Working days lost per 1000 employees

2.3

4.0

4.0

28.2

n.a.

Federal Employment Agency, annual data on industrial action (Streikstatistik).

Working days lost per 1000 employees

16.8

14.6

10.2

51.7

n.a.

WSI annual estimate on industrial action

Note: In 2015 the number of days lost was exceptionally high due to several long lasting strong industrial conflicts in the public sector (Social and child care workers in municipalities) and in privatised companies (Deutsche Bahn, Lufthansa)

Dispute resolution mechanisms

Collective dispute resolution mechanisms

In many sectors, trade unions and employer organisations have concluded a joint dispute resolution agreement (Schlichtungsvereinbarung). Such resolution agreements usually define when the peace obligation expires and therefore when a trade union can call an official strike. If negotiations for a new collective agreement fail to achieve any result, the bargaining parties can apply to the agreed joint dispute resolution procedure (Schlichtung) to prevent the outbreak of industrial action. The procedure does not have to lead to a compromise, but may merely intend mediation. There is no statutory mediation or arbitration procedure.

Individual dispute resolution mechanisms

In Germany, labour courts are the principal mechanism of conflict resolution, in individual as well as in collective labour disputes. Labour law is applicable only to relationships based on private contract. Career public servants (Beamte), in the strict sense of the term, are excluded from labour law. The relationship between career public servants and the state is not a private contractual relationship, but is defined by, and based on, public law. This is why the law on career public servants (Beamtenrecht) is considered to be a special section of public law. Disputes concerning career public servants are not settled by labour courts, but by administrative courts.

The German labour court system is three-tiered: first-instance Labour Courts (Arbeitsgerichte); higher labour courts (courts of appeal) in the second instance (Landesarbeitsgerichte); and, at the top, the Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht), which has the final say in labour law matters (only cases that are believed to infringe constitutional rights may be sent, on further appeal, to the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht). These courts deal with private law disputes involving statutory rights - such as wrongful dismissal, infringement of works council procedures, disputes over wage payments and the interpretation of collective agreements. Labour courts have exclusive jurisdiction over all legal conflicts between employer and employee arising from the employment relationship.

In Germany, unlike in some other countries, not only trade unions, but also - and, indeed, first and foremost - individual employees can be parties on the labour side to cases heard in labour courts. In other words, trade unions have no means of preventing an employee from going to court. Most lawsuits are initiated by individual employees, unions or works councils.

In addition to the traditional way of individual dispute resolution via labour courts, the works councils where they exist play an important role in resolving disputes before they come to court.

Total number of cases brought before labour courts of first instance in Germany, including those pending from previous years

2012

2013

2014

2015

523.698

523.764

502,272

479,795

Source: Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS): Statistik der Arbeitsgerichtsbarkeit.

Individual employment relations

Individual employment relations

Individual employment relations are the relationship between the individual worker and their employer. This relationship is shaped by legal regulation and by the outcomes of social partner negotiations over the terms and conditions governing the employment relationship. This section looks into the start and termination of the employment relationship and entitlements and obligations in Germany.

Start and termination of the employment relationship

Requirements regarding an employment contract

Under German labour law employers and workers conclude ‘work contracts’ (Arbeitsvertrag) meaning that the employer is in the position of giving orders to the worker and that the worker is in a dependent position. Self-employed workers or freelancers conclude contracts to deliver work (Werkverträge) or to provide services (Dienstverträge) and are not covered by labour law but by the civil code..

The minimum age requirement for workers is 13. Children aged 13 to 15 years may conclude a work contract with their parents’ consent. The work contract can be concluded in writing or verbally but has to be laid down in written form within two weeks from the start of the work. The contract has to consider a given collective agreement or works agreement.

Dismissal and termination procedures

The Dismissal Protection Act (Kündigungsschutzgesetz) covers workers who have a work contract with an employer for more than six months. Workers employed in establishments with up to 10 workers are not covered (small enterprises have been excluded since 2004).

Workers can be dismissed for personal reasons (voluntarily), for reasons of conduct or for business reasons. In case of the latter the dismissal is subject to social selection. This means that where several comparable jobs are at risk, older workers, workers with the longest tenure, those with family obligations or with a significant disability have the best chance not to be dismissed.

See also further information on unemployment benefit provisions in Germany.

Entitlements and obligations

Parental, maternity and paternity leave

The federal government seeks to reform the occupational health and safety regulations regarding mothers (Verordnung zum Schutz der Mütter am Arbeitsplatz, MuSchArbV), as well as coverage of the maternity leave regulation (Mutterschaftsschutzgesetz, MuSchG), and to also include pupils and trainees. In 2016, a draft amendment was introduced into Parliament.

In 2014, an amendment of the given parental allowance scheme (Elterngeld) was enacted (starting 1 January 2015). The new scheme, Elterngeld Plus, includes incentives to motivate mothers to take up part-time employment and for fathers to reduce working time and to engage in childcare.

Statutory leave arrangements

Maternity leave

Maximum duration

Six weeks of pre-natal leave unless female worker opts to work instead; eight weeks of post-natal leave. Post-natal maternity leave is considered to be part of parental leave (see below).

Reimbursement

100%

Who pays?

The employer.

Legal basis

Mothers Protection Act (Art.3 and 5) (Mutterschutzgesetz, MuSchG)

Parental leave

Maximum duration

Parental leave is available for a maximum of three years. SinceJuly 2015, parental leave can be taken in three blocks without the employer's consent: two blocks may lie between the third and eighth year of a child's life and last up to two years respectively (previously only twelve months). The employer may refuse the claim of a third block of parental leave between the third and eighth year of life only for urgent operational reasons. Parental leave allowance is paid for 14 months (if fathers choose to take two months of parental leave).

Reimbursement

67% of net earning. Threshold: Minimum of 300 Euro, maximum of 1,800 Euro

Who pays?

Social security system

Legal basis

Act on parental leave allowance and parental leave (Bundeselterngeld- und Elternzeitgesetz, BEEG)

Paternity leave

Maximum duration

A paternity leave regulation is not in place. Fathers are covered by the parental leave regulation-

Reimbursement

n/a

Who pays?

n/a

Legal basis

n/a

Sick leave

Under the Act on the continuing of remuneration (Entgeltfortzahlungsgesetz, EntgFG) from 1994, in case of sickness leave the employer is obliged to pay the full wage for up to six weeks. The worker must have been employed for a minimum period of at least four weeks and on the third day of sickness leave has to provide proof of incapacity of work from a medical doctor. After six weeks, the health insurance covers 70% of the gross salary in case of long-term sickness (under the Social Code Book V). Termination of an employment relationship while a worker is on sick leave is prohibited unless unlawful conduct is detected.

Retirement age

In 2007, the statutory retirement age was raised from 65 to 67 years. Gender differences do not apply. For smoothing the transgression to the new retirement age, the retirement age progressively increases (by months/year) from 65 to 67 years for workers born in the years 1947 to 1963.

In 2014 retirement reforms were enacted. Under the new regulation workers with 45 years of contributions to the statutory retirement scheme may retire at the age of 63 (if they were born in 1953 or earlier) or up to 65 (if born in 1963). In practice, the regulation covers predominantly male manual workers. Women born before 1952 with extended phases of non-employment because of family obligations may retire at an age of 60 years if they provide proof of 15 years of social security coverage and 10 years of paid contributions to the retirement scheme after their 40th birthday.

Pay

Pay

Pay: For workers, the reward for work and main source of income; for employers, a cost of production and focus of bargaining and legislation. This section looks into minimum wage setting in Germany and guides the reader to further material on collective wage bargaining.

Minimum wages

The year 2014 saw the introduction of a statutory minimum wage of €8.50 per hour. The Minimum Wage Act (Mindestlohngesetz, MiLoG) covers all workers apart of workers covered by a sectoral minimum wage agreement, seasonal workers, workers aged 18 years or younger, trainees in vocational training or interns, long-term unemployed in the first six months of employment. Workers in postal delivery services receive a statutory wage of €7.50 rather than €8.50.

Minimum Wage Commission (see below on bipartite bodies), set up by the Federal Labour Minister, debates the future rises of the minimum wage level every two years. It comprises three trade union and three employer representatives, a chair and two academic experts. All members are appointed by the social partners for a five-year period. In 2016, the Commission met for the first time; the federal government agreed to raise the minimum wage to 8,84 Euro/hour starting 1 January 2017. Sectoral minimum wage agreements may deviate from the statutory minimum wage. As of 1 January 2017, 15 extended sectoral minimum wage agreements are in place (on extension mechanisms see below).

For more information regarding the level and development of minimum wages, please see Eurofound’s topical update on statutory minimum wage in the EU 2017 or visit Eurostat.

Collectively agreed pay outcomes

For more detailed information on the most recent outcomes in terms of collectively agreed pay, please consult Eurofound’s collectively wage bargaining portal.

According to WSI Collective Bargaining Archive, in 2016, collectively agreed pay rose by 2.4% compared to an increase of 2.7% in 2015 and 3.1% in 2014. In east Germany the pay rise was 2.7% somewhat higher than in west Germany (2.4%). But despite that, collectively agreed pay in east Germany still stayed below the west German average. The pay rise was strongest in agriculture and forestry (+3.5%), retail (+2.9%) and construction (+.2,7%) and lowest in financial services (+1.5%).

Working time

Working time

Working time: ‘Any period during which the worker is working, at the employer’s disposal and carrying out his activities or duties, in accordance with national laws and/or practice’ (Directive 2003/88/EC). This section briefly summarises regulation and issues regarding working time, overtime, part-time work as well as working time flexibility in Germany.

Working time regulation

Daily working hours are set by the Working Time Act (Arbeitszeitgesetz, ArbZG) based on the European regulations. The employer decides on the distribution of the working hours. In case a works council is in place, the worker representatives have codetermination rights. The Act allows certain sectors to deviate from the regulations on working time (as in the manufacturing industries) and on resting periods (for example, in hospitals, in nursing care, in hotels and restaurants) and also allows deviations via collective agreements. Typically, sectoral collective framework agreements define monthly or weekly working time, number of holidays and hours of shift work/night work. A trend is the concluding of working time accounts or leave regulations by sectoral collective agreements. Opening clauses in collective agreements may allow for deviations at company level. At establishment level, codetermination rights by the works council and works agreements concluded by the worker representatives and management play the dominant role in settling working hours, overtime regulations, flexible working time arrangements or mobile working.

For more detailed information on working time (including annual leave, statutory and collectively agreed working time), please consult Eurofound’s report on Working time developments in the 21st century: Work duration and its regulation.

Overtime regulation

Overtime is not regulated by law. Under labour law, employers do not have the right to demand overtime work unless for urgent extraordinary business needs or unless the individual employment/work contract contains a specific provision for overtime.

Under the Working Time Act, the extension of working time (so-called ‘additional work’ Mehrarbeit) beyond the statutory norm falls within the remit of collective bargaining. Also works councils and management hold the right to conclude extensions beyond the agreed norm. The additional work begins beyond the threshold constituted by the negotiated norm. The agreements settle the form of compensation (time off or remuneration).

Part-time work

Part-time work is a very widespread form of female employment in Germany. In response to the West German male breadwinner/single earner model, the labour market reforms of the early 2000s promoted part-time work as a way of raising employment among women. Eurostat Labour Force Survey found that in 2016 46.9% of female employees worked part time, compared to 9.0% of male employees. The total share of part-time workers in Germany in 2016 was 26.8%, a much higher proportion than the EU average for the same period, 18.9%. The majority of part-time workers do not work in standard but in atypical forms of employment, the so-called mini-jobs.

Standard part-time work is regulated under the Act on part-time and fixed-term employment (Teilzeit und Befristungsgesetz, TzBfG) since the year 2000. In establishments with at least 15 employees, workers do have to right to transfer from a full-time to a part-time position. Standard part-time work is liable to social security contributions and workers’ rights are the same as those of full-time workers. A reform enabling part-time workers to go back to full-time work is in debate.

Under Social Code Book IV, two forms of marginal part-time work exist: part-time jobs paid up to a threshold of €450 per month (so-called ‘mini-jobs’) and part-time jobs of very short duration (up to 70 days per year). An additional form (so-called ‘midi-job’) is defined by a maximum threshold of €850 a month. These forms of employment are covered by the statutory retirement system but workers may opt to not pay any contributions to the retirement or the health or employment security scheme. Employers pay a lump sum to the social security scheme.

Persons employed part-time in Germany and EU28 (% of total employment)

 

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Total - EU28

18.2

18.6

19.0

19.0

19.0

18.9

Total – DE

25.9

25.9

26.7

26.6

26.8

26.8

Women – EU28

31.0

31.4

31.8

31.7

31.5

31.4

Women – DE

45.9

45.7

47.1

46.7

47.0

46.9

Men – EU28

7.4

7.7

8.1

8.2

8.2

8.2

Men – DE

8.5

8.6

8.8

8.9

9.0

9.0

Source: Eurostat Labour Force Survey [lfsi_pt_a] – Persons employed part-time (20 to 64 years of age) – total and by sex.

Night work

The Working Time Act (Arbeitszeitgesetz, Art. 2) defines ‘night time’ as the time between 23.00 and 6.00 (in the case of bakeries 22.00 to 5.00). ‘Night work’ is defined as any work performed during at least two hours of night time. Workers are defined as ‘night workers’ if they work at night because of shift work or if they work at night for at least 48 days per year.

Shift work

The Working Time Act does not give a definition of shift work. Under Art. 6 it says that shift work is to be designed according to the latest academic expertise on occupational safety and health requirements.

Weekend work

Work on Sunday is regulated under Art. 9 and 10 of the Working Time Act. Art. 9 states that on Sundays and holidays work is prohibited from 0.00 to 24.00. In the case of ongoing shift work, the 24 hour rest period may start six hours before or after the normal time frame. Art. 10 gives the exceptions to the regulation of Art. 9: shift workers in manufacturing (where compliance to Art.9 would result in the need for more staff); workers in bakeries (for a maximum of three hours); workers in certain financial services; firefighters and police; workers in hotels and restaurants, in hospitals, live performance, media, industrial cleaning, safety and control, transport, agriculture and others.

Rest and breaks

According to the Working Time Act (Art. 4), work of six to nine hours duration is to be interrupted for at least 30 minutes and work of more than nine hours duration for at least 45 minutes. The time of the breaks can be split in half. Workers may not work for more than six hours without a break.

According to Article 5, workers shall have a rest period of at least eleven hours. In hospitals, hotels and restaurants, care professions, media and agriculture the rest period can be cut by one hour under the condition of compensation within a four week period.

Working time flexibility

Working time flexibility is a major issue in public debate. While employers call for more working time flexibility and a 40-hour week, workers complain about overtime and call for more autonomy in setting their working time. Collective agreements and works agreements provide for various forms of working time flexibility in terms of weekend work, overtime, shift work or working time accounts. Flexitime (Gleitzeit) is one of the most longstanding forms; a new development is the provision of leave for training or care purposes (Bispinck 2017).

Do you have fixed start and finishing time in your work?

In the figure, we see a comparison between Germany and European Union for the workers with 'Age : All' when asked 'Do you have fixed starting and finishing times in your work?'. For the 'No' answer, Germany's score is higher than the European Union score. For the 'Yes' answer, Germany's score is lower than the European Union score. Data is based on question 39d from the sixth "European Working Conditions Survey (2015)The National comparisons visualisation presents a comparative overview for the values of all answers between two selected countries.

Source: Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey 2015.

More detailed figures are available from Eurofound’s European Working conditions survey.

Health and well-being

Health and well-being

Maintaining health and well-being should be a high priority for workers and employers alike. Health is an asset closely associated with a person’s quality of life and longevity, as well as their ability to work. A healthy economy depends on a healthy workforce: organisations can experience loss of productivity through the ill-health of their workers. This section looks into psychosocial risks and health and safety in Germany.

Health and safety at work

The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsmedizin und Arbeitssicherheit, BAUA) attributes the significant decline in workplace accidents in Germany to campaigns on prevention and safety policies. But the trend also relates to a decline in manual manufacturing work (BAUA 2014).

Accidents at work, with four days’ absence or more – working days lost

 

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

All accidents

781,673

698,070

761,280

747,560

709,940

721,866

704,819

Percent change on previous year

-

-10.7

9.1

-1.8

-5.0

1.7

-2.4

Per 1,000 employees

23.0

20.5

22.7

21.8

20.5

20.6

19.9

Source: Eurostat, [hsw_mi01] and [lfsa_eegaed]

National statistics give higher figures than Eurostat; they are based on data from the sectoral employers’ liability associations (Berufsgenossenschaften) and the liability association of the agricultural sector, both of which record accidents at work resulting in four or more days’ absence. Data is published in BAUA’s annual report on safety and health at work (Sicherheit und Gesundheit bei der Arbeit, SuGA). Incidence rates are measured based on the number of accidents suffered by full-time workers (rather than the number of employees). In 2015, the number of accidents at work per 1,000 workers (full-time equivalents) stood at the all-time low of 23.3 compared to 28.3 in 2006 (BAUA, 2016).

Psychosocial risks

Monitoring psychosocial risks at work is a major issue in Germany as mental disorders account for a growing number of days of absence from work and for long sickness leaves. The regulation in place is the Occupational Safety and Health Act (Arbeitsschutzgesetz, ArbschG) which since December 2013 stipulates that work may have detrimental effects on mental health and that work ought to be designed not to pose such risks. The Act sets out how psychosocial risks should be assessed and gives control of compliance to the labour inspectorate. In case of ongoing non-compliance, the employer has to pay an administrative fine.

The implementation of the Act is supported by a new work programme on psychic health (2013–2017) launched by the Joint German Occupational Safety and Health Strategy (Gemeinsame Deutsche Arbeitsschutzstrategie, GDA), a joint initiative by the national and the regional states and insurers.

Preceding the amendment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Federal Labour Ministry, the German Confederation of Trade Unions DGB and the Federal Association of Employer Organisations BDA published a joint statement on psychic health risks at workplace level and the need for prevention. An initiative by the Federal Council (council of the 16 regional states) to enact a legislative order on psychosocial risk prevention was rejected by Parliament.

Work intensity: Do you have enough time to get the job done?

In the figure, we see a comparison between Germany and European Union for the workers with 'Age : All' when asked 'Do you have enough time to get the job done?'. For the 'Always or most of the time' answer, Germany's score is lower than the European Union score. For the 'Rarely or never' answer, Germany's score is higher than the European Union score. For the 'Sometimes' answer, Germany's score is higher than the European Union score. Data is based on question 61g from the sixth European Working Conditions Survey (2015). The National comparisons visualisation presents a comparative overview for the values of all answers between two selected countries.

Source: Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey 2015.

More detailed figures are available from Eurofound’s European Working conditions survey.

Skills, learning and employability

Skills, learning and employability

Skills are the passport to employment; the better skilled an individual, the more employable they are. Good skills also tend to secure better-quality jobs and better earnings. This section briefly summarises the German system for ensuring skills and employability and looks into the extent of training.

National system for ensuring skills and employability

A pillar of the German system is the dual vocational training scheme; it combines training in vocational schools and workplace-based training in establishments. Moreover, the dual training may be complemented by workshops run by the guilds and chambers of commerce, in order to compensate for the bias caused by training at only one company. These extra courses usually take three or four weeks a year. The time spent at vocational school is approximately 60 days a year, in blocks of one or two weeks at a time spread out over the year.

Occupational trends and skill needs are monitored by the Federal Institute for Education and Vocational Training (Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung, BIBB), which is also in charge of developing qualification schemes and of monitoring the supply and demand in dual training posts. The social partners are represented on the board of BIBB as well as on the boards of the Chambers of Industry and Chambers of Crafts which set the examinations and are involved in the design of training programmes.

Collective bargaining covers the wages and working hours of trainees and their options to be hired after termination of training. At establishment level, works councils have codetermination rights with regard to the implementation of the in-company vocational training.

Since late 2014, a trilateral alliance on vocational and further training (Allianz für Aus- und Weiterbildung) is in place under the responsibility of the federal economics minister. The alliance has sought to substantially raise the number of apprenticeship posts and internships, to cooperate with the Federal Employment Agency with regard to support measures for school leavers and unskilled, unemployed and foreign workers from European Member States and refugees. In September 2015, the partners launched a joint statement saying that they will cooperate in the labour market integration of refugees.

Furthermore, trilateral alliances on skilled labour (Fachkräfteallianzen) operate at regional and local levels.

With regard to refugees, social partners in the metal, chemical and in printing sectors have extended their collective agreements on the integration and training of low-achieving school leavers to refugees.

Training

Legally employers are not obliged to provide vocational training or further training. If they do so, the Works Constitution Act stipulates that they should cooperate with the works council in these regards. Under the laws of the regional states (Bundeslaender), workers have the right to take five days of education leave per year (Bildungsurlaub). This form of paid leave can be taken for adult education (languages, health, political, societal topics) or for occupation-related training. The training has to follow set standards and the providers have to be certified to provide paid training leave. In practice, training vacations are most often taken by public sector workers and workers in large companies.

Additionally, paid time off for training is also provided by works agreements concluded by employers and works councils. This form is most often realised in the public sector and in large companies.

In the 2015 collective bargaining round, the social partners in the metal and machinery sector union agreed on the inclusion of paid training leave in the sectoral agreement.

Training: Have you had any on the job training in the past year?

In the figure, we see a comparison between Germany and European Union for the workers with 'Age : All' when asked 'Have you had on-the-job training in the last 12 months?'. For the 'No' answer, Germany's score is lower than the European Union score. For the 'Yes' answer, Germany's score is higher than the European Union score. Data is based on question 65c from the sixth "European Working Conditions Survey (2015).The National comparisons visualisation presents a comparative overview for the values of all answers between two selected countries.

Source: Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey 2015.

More detailed figures are available from Eurofound’s European Working conditions survey.

Work organisation

Work organisation

Work organisation underpins economic and business development and has important consequences for productivity, innovation and working conditions. Eurofound research finds that some types of work organisation are associated with a better quality of work and employment. Therefore, developing or introducing different forms of work organisation are of particular interest because of the expected effects on productivity, efficiency and competitiveness of companies, as well as on workers’ working conditions. Ongoing research by Eurofound, based on EurWORK, the European Working Conditions Survey and the European Company Survey, monitors developments in work organisation.

For Germany, the European Company Survey 2013 shows that between 2010 and 2013, 37.1% of establishments with 10 or more employees reported changes in the use of technology, 20.5% introduced changes in ways to coordinate and allocate the work to workers, and 10.9% saw changes in their working time arrangements.

The digitalisation of the economy and of manufacturing processes is a major issue in Germany.

In 2014, the federal government introduced the Digital Agenda 2014-2017, aimed at paving the way for Germany to become the ‘digital growth motor of Europe’. The agenda sets out to accelerate the expansion of the digital infrastructure and promote the digitalisation of the economy, and is steered by the federal ministries of economy (BMWi), of transport (BMVI) and of research (BMBF). The labour ministry (BMAS) plays a minor role and is involved in only one out of seven fields of activity, the field ‘digital economy and digital work’. BMAS’ integration can be attributed to the trade unions who have addressed the impact of digitalisation on employment and the quality of work for years. In response, BMAS has been working on a White Book on the needs for future regulation of work. A draft version was released in late 2016.

Work organisation: Are you able to choose or change your methods of work?

In the figure, we see a comparison between Germany and European Union for the workers with 'Age : All' when asked 'Are you able to choose or change your methods of work?'. For the 'No' answer, Germany's score is lower than the European Union score. For the 'Yes' answer, Germany's score is higher than the European Union score. Data is based on question 54b from the sixth "European Working Conditions Survey (2015).The National comparisons visualisation presents a comparative overview for the values of all answers between two selected countries.

Source: Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey 2015.

More detailed figures are available from Eurofound’s European Working conditions survey.

Equality and non-discrimination at work

Equality and non-discrimination at work

The legal basis of equality and non-discrimination at work in Germany is the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and the General Act on Equal Treatment (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz, AGG). The AGG is monitored by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Office which publishes monitoring reports. Anti-discrimination offices also exist at regional level and as local contact points. There is some indication that cases of discrimination are significantly underreported. Juridical disputes are solved by the local and regional labour courts.

Equal pay and gender pay gap

From 2006 to 2015, the gender pay gap in Germany decreased from 23% to 21%. In west Germany, it declined by 1% (from 24% to 23%) and in east Germany it grew from 6% to 8%. The Federal Statistical Office finds that women profited from the introduction of the statutory minimum wage somewhat more than men.

In 2013, the government coalition stated its intention to pass a bill to work towards gender pay equality. In 2016, the federal family minister drafted a new law (Entgelttransparenzgesetz) which is intended to improve the transparency of wage structures in companies. On 11 January 2017, the draft law was adopted by the federal cabinet. It provides for an individual claim to information on the pay criteria in companies with more than 200 employees. Also, private employers (companies with more than 500 workers) are obliged to draft reports about the pay structure and wage equality in their company. It is expected that the law will by passed by Parliament and will come into force in summer 2017.

Quota regulations

On 1 May 2015, a new act on the balanced share of women in managerial positions in private companies and in the public sector was enacted. The act, which is in force since 1 January 2016, stipulates a 30% quota for women on supervisory boards. Listed companies subject to parity co-determination regulation – this is to say, companies of the coal, steel and mining secto – have to fill vacancies with women until the quota is reached. Other large companies which are either listed or covered by standard co-determination regulation have to design guidelines on how to reach the quota. The act also addresses companies in public ownership and stipulates that these companies should aim to have 50% of women in managerial positions starting in 2018.

A second, new issue on the political agenda has been the inclusion of disabled workers. Under Article 71 of Social Code Book IX, establishments with 20 workers and more have to employ a 5% share of disabled workers. The fines paid for non-compliance (about a quarter of all establishments prefer to pay a fine rather than to employ a disabled person) fund the public pay supplements to employers that do employ disabled persons (FAZ from 13.12.2013).

Bibliography

Bibliography

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