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Fixed term employment contracts

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Fixed term contracts are often the first choice of employers when it comes to making a decision whether to employ new staff.

 

There is a special act dealing with the question under which circumstances the employer is permitted to choose a fixed term contract over an indefinite work contract called the “Teilzeit-und Befristungsgesetz” (or brief: TzBfG). The law also has rules when it comes to extending a fixed term contract.

 

http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/tzbfg/

 

The intention of the law going back to a European Directive is to set out clear rules for fixed term contracts and promote indefinite employment.

 

Broadly speaking the law differentiates between the necessity of the employer to have a legitimate reason for choosing a fixed term contract on the one hand or exempting the employer from having a legitimate reason at all on the other hand. In the last case the employer can simply choose a fixed term contract without having to meet any conditions set out in the act to justify his choice.

 

In this context I want to draw your attention to a recent ruling of the BAG (Federal Court of Employment) of considerable importance. It deals with a particular part in the provision in the law when the employer does not need to have a legitimate reason for going for a fixed term contract. It is sort of a double edged sword but mostly proved inhibitive when it came to the employer’s decision to employ a new employee in the first place.

 

The provision (Section 14 Paragraph 2 Sentence 2 TzBfG) stipulates that the employer is not allowed to go for a fixed term contract at any rate when the particular employee already had once worked for him. There is no explicit time restriction. This meant that even if the prospective employee only worked as a student with his company many years ago, would the choice for a fixed term contract prove risky for the employer. Risky, because the employee aware of his rights could cite this provision at the end of the contract – the law requires the employee to assert his right in court no later than three weeks after the end of the employment as laid down in the contract (Section 17 TzBfG) – and the contract would proceed as an indefinite one. The employer knowing from his records that the candidate was once during the company’s existence a former employee and unwilling or not ready to employ on an indefinite basis would need to show him the red card. Thus the former employee would be deprived of the opportunity or prospect to get his initial fixed term employment turned into an indefinite one at a later stage.

 

Here the ruling of the BAG kicks in:

 

The BAG recognized this dilemma and ruled that a former employment does not prevent a fixed term contract as such when the employment was more than three years ago.

 

 

BAG, 06.04.2011 (7 AZR 716/09)

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I have a question conceringin the TzBfG, I have a job offer, not sure if I will take it as the contract is a bit weird (will be asking for advice on this later ;) ), but need to quit my current fixed term job first (fixed until next May).

 

My current contract states in §1:

Die Befristung erfolgt auf der Grundlage § 14 des Gesetzes über Teilzeitarbeit und Befristete Arbeitsverträge (TzBfG) - so far so good

 

then in §3 concerning the notice period:

 

Das Arbeitsverhältnis kann unabhängig ob es sich um ein unbefristete oder ein befristete Arbeitsverhältnis handelt, beiderseits gekündigt werden. innerhalb der probezeit (§2) beträgt die Kündigungsfrist 2 Wochen. Nach Ablauf der Probezeit gelten die jeweilige gesetzliche Kündigungsfristen

 

My problem here is the use of the word „jeweiligen“ – does „jeweilig“ refer to the TzBfG in general? Even though I know what the word means, I'm not sure how it's being used in the contract.

 

According to TzBfG §15:

 

 

§ 15 Ende des befristeten Arbeitsvertrages

(1) Ein kalendermäßig befristeter Arbeitsvertrag endet mit Ablauf der vereinbarten Zeit.

(2) Ein zweckbefristeter Arbeitsvertrag endet mit Erreichen des Zwecks, frühestens jedoch zwei Wochen nach Zugang der schriftlichen Unterrichtung des Arbeitnehmers durch den Arbeitgeber über den Zeitpunkt der Zweckerreichung.

(3) Ein befristetes Arbeitsverhältnis unterliegt nur dann der ordentlichen Kündigung, wenn dies einzelvertraglich oder im anwendbaren Tarifvertrag vereinbart ist.

(4) Ist das Arbeitsverhältnis für die Lebenszeit einer Person oder für längere Zeit als fünf Jahre eingegangen, so kann es von dem Arbeitnehmer nach Ablauf von fünf Jahren gekündigt werden. Die Kündigungsfrist beträgt sechs Monate.

(5) Wird das Arbeitsverhältnis nach Ablauf der Zeit, für die es eingegangen ist, oder nach Zweckerreichung mit Wissen des Arbeitgebers fortgesetzt, so gilt es als auf unbestimmte Zeit verlängert, wenn der Arbeitgeber nicht unverzüglich widerspricht oder dem Arbeitnehmer die Zweckerreichung nicht unverzüglich mitteilt.

Point 3 is the one that I'm confused about, does this mean I can't quit my job? Or can I ignore everything in the TzBfG except §14 and quit according to the general legal notice period

 

I hate stupid legal jargon and while I think I know what all this means, I just wan't to check with you before maybe signing a contract I can't fulfill, because I can't quit.

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It seems legit. §15(3) says it is only subject to regular termination if specified in the individual contract or the applicable collective (union) contract. Which it is in §3 of your individual contract.

 

So you can quit and/or be terminated with notice of 2 weeks during the probationary period or with the respective (i.e., depending on the employment term) statutory notice period - that's what "jeweiligen" means in this context.

 

That's my call at least. Please note that I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. Ask your pharmacist for information on potential side-effects. Your mileage may vary.

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Thanks for all your answers, that is was I thought, but wasn't sure, now just to clarify a few things with my new contract fbefore signing and quitting my current job, but that might be something for a new thread although it is another fixed term contract, but somewhat complicated in detail.

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It seems legit. §15(3) says it is only subject to regular termination if specified in the individual contract or the applicable collective (union) contract. Which it is in §3 of your individual contract.

 

So you can quit and/or be terminated with notice of 2 weeks during the probationary period or with the respective (i.e., depending on the employment term) statutory notice period - that's what "jeweiligen" means in this context.

 

Oops, I forgot to add this is my second yearly fixed termn contract with them so my Probezeit is long over (since 7 monthas), but I guess the first bit you wrote sitll applies

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If it's a follow-on contract, there shouldn't be a probationary period IMHO. Is there another clause in the contract that specifies a Probezeit?

 

But you're right, the regular statutory notice periods would apply in the case that there's no probationary period.

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