Collective Bargaining Law
Collective bargaining agreements are either more or less governing the employment relationships for more than 80% of all employees in Germany. Collective bargaining agreements set legal standards which define and specify the contents, the conclusion and the termination of employment contracts or relations as well as company-related particulars or issues which come under the realm of works constitutional law. This means to say that collective bargaining law is a substantial part of German labour law in general.
What is typically covered by collective bargaining agreements is the number of employees’ weekly working hours, the number of holiday days, Christmas and holiday allowances, or the amount of an employee’s remuneration. These provisions constitute minimum working conditions and the employers are not allowed to go below these standards if the collective bargaining agreement is applicable for the respective employment relationship.
Collective bargaining agreements are directly applicable between the members of the collectively contracting parties. These are on the one hand the employees in their quality of members of the contracting trade union, and on the other hand the companies in their quality of member(s) of the collectively contracting employers’ association or an individual entrepreneur, in so far as the entrepreneur himself has concluded the collective bargaining agreement with the pertinent trade union. Apart from that it is also possible that a collective bargaining agreement is declared as being generally applicable and binding by way of a government decree, provided that the statutory requirements for such an action are met. In that case the provisions of such an agreement are applicable and valid for the entirety of those employment contracts which are covered by it, irrespective of the question of whether they are part or members of the contracting organization.
Collective bargaining agreements have been and are concluded in all economic and industrial sectors. Agreements which are most frequently given wider public attention are collective bargaining agreements which are concluded in the building industry, in the retail trade sector and also in the metal-working industry.
Another field where collectively bargained agreements are governing is the civil or public service sector, where they govern the working conditions for those employees who are working for these services. In this context it is also to be mentioned that the federal German „Länder“ have a special collective bargainaing law of their own. Individual federal „Länder“ sign their own collective bargaining agreements for their employees in so far as they are not organized under the Collective Bargaining Association of the German „Länder“. The same is also true for communities or municipalities, where communities and municipalities have joined to constitute their own bargaining associations.
Church institutions’ employments are governed by a special collective bargaining law. This law does not provide for formal collective agreements such as one would have it under statutory collective bargaining law and it more particularly does not allow for industrial action. Nevertheless the Federal German Labour Court treats the Churches’ guidelines for employment contracts in the same way as it does with contracts which were concluded under statutory collectively bargained agreements.
In our offices we have lawyers who are specialized in labour law and who are highly qualified to give you advice and counsel you on questions concerning the application of collectively bargained agreements, they will check the possibilities of a change to another collective agreement, especially in the case of reorganizations of companies, and they will also assist and accompany you on the occasion of collective bargaining negotiations.