Littler Global Guide - Germany - Q4 2023

Browse through brief employment and labor law updates from around the globe. Contact a Littler attorney for more information or view our global locations.

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New Regulations for the Immigration of Skilled Workers in Germany

New Legislation Enacted

Author: Svenja Gaida, Senior Associate – vangard | Littler

Given the continuing demand for skilled workers and specialists from abroad (especially from non-EU-countries), Germany has made changes to its immigration law. Effective November 18, 2023, the salary threshold for the EU Blue Card (which is basically the EU-equivalent of the U.S. Green Card) will be significantly lower. In addition, a wider group of employees can apply for an EU Blue Card. For example, IT specialists without a university degree but with three years of comparable professional experience will now be able eligible to apply for the card. Also, holders of EU Blue Cards issued by another EU member state will be allowed to perform business activities in Germany directly related to their employment in the other EU member state for up to 90 days. Another major change is that skilled workers may now take any qualified employment, with the Federal Employment Agency’s consent, not just positions linked to their professional qualifications.

Further changes will follow: There will be expanded work-permit-options for skilled workers with highly developed practical professional knowledge in March 2024 and a job search opportunity visa enabling jobseekers to stay in Germany and search for employment beginning in June 2024.

General Minimum Wage Increases in 2024 and 2025

New Legislation Enacted

Author: Dr. Philipp Melle, Associate – vangard | Littler

As of January 1, 2024, the general minimum wage will be EUR 12.41 and will increase to EUR 12.82 on January 1, 2025. The monthly salary limit for so-called mini jobs will be EUR 538.00 as of January 1, 2024, and will increase to EUR 556.00 on January 1, 2025.

There are higher sector-specific minimum wages (e.g., for cleaning staff, care workers and temporary workers), which are also mandatory and will also increase in some cases on January 1, 2024.

Sanctions for Formal Errors in Mass Dismissal Notices May Be Lifted

Proposed Bill or Initiative

Author: Philipp Schulte, Associate – vangard | Littler

In Germany, the law imposes very strict requirements for notices to the German Employment Agency of a mass dismissal (defined as the dismissal of 8% of the workforce or more, depending on the size of the workforce). Some German labor courts have held that if there are mistakes in the mass dismissal notice, even materially irrelevant ones, the terminations are invalid.

On December 14, the Sixth Senate of the German Federal Labor Court issued a press release indicating that they have initiated a process to ease the formal process of mass dismissal. Employers should look out for the decision, which is expected to be issued in 2024. Until then, it continues to be important to comply with all requirements when drafting the required notices of a mass dismissal.

Disabled Persons May Limit the Age Range of Applicants in the Search for a Personal Assistant

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Author: Kim Kleinert, Associate – vangard | Littler

A 50-year-old applicant who was rejected for a position to assist a 28-year-old disabled person sued for age discrimination. In the ruling of December 7, 2023, Ref. C-518/22, the European Court of Justice emphasized that German legislation expressly stipulates that the individual needs of people with disabilities must be considered when hiring for a personal assistance services position. Accordingly, the court held, disabled persons must be able to decide for themselves how, where and with whom they would like to live. A stated preference for assistants of a certain age group is also appropriate to promote greater respect for people's right to self-determination, the court stated. Accordingly, the job advertisement restricting applicants to a certain age group was therefore justified in this case.

Increased Requirements for the Evidential Value of Sick Notes

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Author: Andre Gieseler, Partner – vangard | Littler

On November 9, 2023, the German Federal Labor Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht) published decision Ref. No. 5 AZR 335/22, ruling that an employer can undermine the evidentiary value of a sick note, certifying the incapacity of an employee to work if the physician violates the regulation on sick leave (Arbeitsunfaehigkeits-Richtlinie: AURL) when issuing it.

Physicians may still serve as witnesses in court to confirm or present facts to prove that an employee has actually been sick, and rulings will be made on a case-by-case basis.

This decision is in line with two other recent employer-friendly decisions by the Federal Labor Court regarding the evidentiary value of sick notes.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.