Legal advice —

Employment law

We assist you in complying with statutory regulations and in designing your internal rules and work instructions in order to meet compliance requirements so that you can focus on your work.


Specialist lawyers in employment law in Hamburg-Harburg

On average, we work 39.1 years of our lives, although this does not mean that we are always at work - as we used to be. Even before the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, the world of work was undergoing a transformation. Since then, working from home, flexible working hours and a work-life balance are just a few issues that can put a strain on the working relationship between employee and employer. Accordingly, there is a growing need - on both the part of the employer and the employee - for clear rules and agreements in the employment relationship.

Our specialist lawyers in employment law at the Hamburg-Harburg office will provide you with comprehensive advice and representation in all areas of employment law throughout Germany. Due to our extensive expertise in employment and public sector employment law, we are able to put our clients in a pole position.


multidisciplinary & reliable —

The "proactive" advisers

We want to do more than just damage limitation. A large number of emerging issues can be avoided by acting in a timely manner and with foresight.

Employment law for employees

Employment law protects you - and we support you with expertise and creativity!

Employment law for companies

Employment law is constantly being changed by legislation and case law. We get to the crux of the matter and advise your company with foresight and in every conflict situation.

Employment/service law for senior management

We assist you competently and creatively from tailor-made contractual refinements to the enforcement of your claims!


Employment law for employees

For some people, work is their vocation or even the fulfilment of their professional dreams; for others, it is simply a way to earn a living. But what happens if the job is no longer the right fit, you are tempted by a new challenge in another company, you have been given a warning or even issued a notice of dismissal or a transfer of operations is imminent? It is important that you obtain a swift but comprehensive overview of your legal situation in the employment relationship because the legal deadlines are often short under employment law. An employment contract often also contains additional restrictive binding deadlines. Our specialist lawyers in employment law advise you - always on a solution-oriented and forward-looking basis - with special empathy for your personal situation in all employment law issues and consistently represent - both out of court and in court - your interests in the employment relationship.

Termination / protection against unfair dismissal

If your employer has terminated the employment relationship, swift action is invaluable. An action for protection against unfair dismissal must be filed with the competent labour court within three weeks of receipt of the notice of dismissal. If the action is filed late, the termination becomes effective and your employment relationship is terminated, regardless of whether the reasons for termination actually existed or not. The Protection against Dismissal Act (Kündigungsschutzgesetz, KSchG) applies if your employer generally employs more than ten employees. A termination is only legal if it can be based on personal, operational or conduct grounds. This is known in this context as the three pillars of social justification. There are often insufficient grounds for termination or employers make formal errors when terminating the employment relationship. In particular, the employer often fails to consult the works council on the intended termination or does not do so to a sufficient extent in terms of substance. Certain employee groups (trainees after their probationary period, pregnant women, employees on parental leave or even employees with a severe disability) also enjoy special protection against dismissal. It is therefore often advisable to file an action for protection against unfair dismissal. When an action is brought before the labour court, you will only have to bear your own costs - at first instance - regardless of the outcome of the legal dispute.

Warning

With a warning, the employer draws your attention to an - alleged - breach of duty and requests you to behave in accordance with the employment contract in the future. In addition, when a warning is issued, the consequences are set out for the existing employment relationship in the event of a renewed breach of duty. These include in particular the threat of a notice of dismissal being issued for reasons of conduct. In the case of warnings, the requirements developed by case law are often not met and the employee has a right to have the warning deleted from the personnel file.

Job reference

If the employment relationship has ended, you are entitled to receive a reference. The reference is intended to serve as a document for a new job application and must be formulated - without being untruthful - in a favourable manner. An employer's reference must contain all material facts and assessments that are relevant to the overall appraisal and of interest to a potential employer. Although a reference is to be formulated in a clear and understandable manner, a so-called reference language has become established. Negative facts or conduct can be cleverly disguised in this way.

Maternity protection

As of 1 January 2018, the legislator amended the regulations on maternity protection in the Maternity Protection Act (Mutterschutzgesetz, MuSchG). You and your child are to be protected at the place of work, education and study during pregnancy, after childbirth and while breastfeeding. For example, your employer may not employ you during the last six weeks before your expected delivery and during the first eight weeks after delivery. The same applies if your doctor prohibits you from working. Your leave entitlement cannot be reduced as a result. In addition, there is a ban on overtime, and you enjoy special protection against dismissal. For the health and safety measures to take effect, you should notify your employer of your pregnancy and expected date of delivery as soon as you know you are pregnant. In the event of breaches of the obligations set forth in the Maternity Protection Act, actions taken by the employer may even be considered a punishable offence in certain cases.

Parental leave

It is important that the request, which must be made in writing, is received by your employer in a timely manner. Parental leave has been extensively reformed by legislation in recent years. Employees who want to work only on a limited basis or want to take a complete career break during the first three years of their child's life are entitled to parental leave. Parental leave is therefore not only available to the mother, but also to the father. The relevant statutory regulations are set out in the Act on Parental Allowance and Parental Leave (Gesetz zum Elterngeld und zur Elternzeit, BEEG). You must live with the child in the same household and care for and raise the child yourself. As an employee on parental leave, you enjoy special protection against dismissal. However, your employer is entitled to reduce your leave entitlement during parental leave.

Employment law for companies

Employment law in Germany is generally designed to be employee-friendly. In addition to a large number of statutory provisions, the question of what is permissible under employment law and how an employment relationship should be structured in a meaningful manner is determined by a large number of labour court decisions. The constantly changing employment case law must also be considered when cooperating with works councils and supervisory authorities.

The support provided by our specialist lawyers in employment law covers the entire area of individual as well as collective employment law.

We advise you on the development and implementation of solutions for employment law issues on a case-by-case basis as well as on the implementation of new structures. We draft employment contracts, service contracts of managing directors, company agreements and flexible working time and remuneration models that are optimally tailored to your business.

We advise you extensively and on a case-by-case basis in all questions regarding employment law and represent your interests both out of court and before the labour courts.

Our lawyers will come to your company and train you, your managers and your employees. We set out strategies that assist you and your company in recognising emerging issues and finding a solution even before any damage has been incurred. In addition, we regularly organise information evenings on current topics in our offices.

Are you planning a fundamental change in your company?
We also advise you on restructuring / changes to the company’s legal form, planning your company succession and on the purchase / sale of companies in competence teams - for example in cooperation with our specialist lawyers from the fields of company law, family law, inheritance law and our tax advisory teams.

Working with our tax experts, we develop customised remuneration systems (cafeteria principle) with you to make your company even more attractive to employees through a flexible remuneration structure (insurance, company car, additional salaries, additional leave, further training, etc.).

Warning

There are several options where there is a breach of duty on the part of the employee. In the case of serious breaches of duty (e.g. theft), you may be able to dismiss the employee immediately. In the event of other breaches of duty, a warning must always be issued prior to dismissal. In doing so, the conduct complained of must be outlined very specifically. The employee must be requested to cease the conduct that has given rise to the warning. It must also be made clear that, in the event of a repetition of the conduct that has given rise to the warning, the employment relationship is at risk and dismissal must be expected. Several cases where a warning could be issued should never be combined in a single warning. If the warning does not meet the above requirements, it is invalid.

Termination / protection against unfair dismissal

If you plan to give notice of termination and employ more than ten employees, the notice of termination must be based on personal, operational or conduct grounds ("the three pillars of social justification"). Certain employee groups (trainees after their probationary period, pregnant women, employees on parental leave or even employees with a severe disability as well as works council members) also enjoy special protection against dismissal. If you are planning to terminate an employee's employment for reasons of conduct, you must first clarify whether a warning is to be issued or whether the employee has already been warned repeatedly about his/her misconduct. The works council - if there is one - must be consulted before a notice of termination is issued.
If you want to issue a notice of summary dismissal, you must observe the time limit set out in Section 626 (2) of the Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, BGB). The period shall be two weeks and shall commence at the time at which the party entitled to terminate the employment relationship becomes aware of the facts relevant to the dismissal.

Bogus self-employment

The term "bogus self-employment" [Scheinselbständigkeit] is not found in the legislation, but is a term coined by politicians. Bogus self-employment is deemed to exist if a person declared as a self-employed entrepreneur or freelancer provides services or works for an external company, although he or she is in fact an employee. The risk of bogus self-employment being detected is extremely high. An audit is conducted by the Deutsche Rentenversicherung (German Statutory Pension Scheme) about every four years. If bogus self-employment is proven, there is, in particular, in addition to criminal consequences, the financial threat that the total social security contributions must be subsequently paid. The employer cannot usually request reimbursement of these subsequent social security contributions from the bogus self-employed person, or only to a limited extent. There is no longer a list of criteria defined by the legislator for determining bogus self-employment. Each case is considered individually, taking into account not only the written contract, but also the reality of the working arrangements in practice. Integration into the company, the autonomy of as well as the entrepreneurial risk incurred by the person concerned are of particular importance.

Temporary employment

Temporary employment refers to a situation where an entity which employs a worker temporarily places that worker to work in the company of another employer, the so-called user undertaking. The employees are integrated into the work organisation of the user undertaking and are subject to its instructions. The employment contract is between the employee and the temporary work agency (TWA) and must be in writing. The rights and obligations are governed by the Act on Temporary Agency Work (Arbeitnehmerüberlassungsgesetz, AÜG). Particular attention must be paid to the principle of equality. The temporary worker must be granted the same working conditions, including pay, as a comparable salaried employee at the hirer. The TWA may not assign the employee to the same user undertaking for more than 18 consecutive months. User undertakings and TWAs often try to circumvent the provisions of the AÜG by means of contracts for work and services. This is referred to as covert employee leasing. The consequences of unlawful temporary employment can be extremely serious for both TWAs and user undertakings, so particular caution is advised here.


Employment/service law for senior management

As a board member, managing director or executive employee of a company, you are always in a special situation in terms of employment law. Employment law provisions often do not apply to you or only to a limited extent. Accordingly, an optimally drafted employment contract is of paramount importance to you.

If your employment contract states that you are a senior executive, the first thing to do is to clarify whether this is in fact true. Despite the fact that the concept of a senior manager is to be defined in more detail depending on the law, senior managers are in fact only those employees with employer functions (e.g. the authority to make personnel decisions independently) or particularly qualified employees who render their services under their personal responsibility or work on their own volition.

For example, if you are a managing director in a limited liability company, you hold two legal positions. On the one hand, you are a member of an executive body of the company, on the other hand, you are an employee under a service contract of a managing director. For your position as a member of an executive body to be terminated, you would have to be removed by a shareholders' meeting, whereas termination of the service contract only dissolves the contractual relationship.

Our specialist lawyers in employment law advise and assist you - confidentially and tailored to your needs - in contract negotiations or review your current situation under employment law. In the same way, this applies to advice and (legal) representation in termination disputes. In addition, our specialist lawyers in employment law will assist you with issues specific to senior managers, such as negotiating bonuses, drafting non-compete agreements, conferring of a power of attorney or the use of company cars.


We can manage that —

The experts to match.

Ingolf F. Kropp

Lawyer, Specialist lawyer in employment law

Gunter Troje

Lawyer, Specialist lawyer in employment law


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