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What is a Betriebsrat and how useful are they?

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I recently had a conversation with my boss at work, and she informed me that she decided that she did not want to give me an unlimited work contract as we are approaching the 2 year limit. Her reason is that she wants all employees to speak at least two languages fluently. (Admittedly, my German has gotten crappy over the past 5 years having worked in a bank, airport, and currently a call center serving primarily customers from English speaking countries like the UK). It should be noted that she replaced the previous manager about 6 months ago after he moved on to another job.

 

All the team members here are upset with the decision, particularly since I'm the only native English speaker there with the responsibilty of handling all English cases from the UK. It should also be interesting to note that many of the team members there have unlimited contacts but speak English with either ear-grating accents or in the fashion of  "Okay, so to (uh uh uh) be able to complete (uh uh) your uh purchase, we uh need from you please..." They all are urging me to contact our Betriebsrat immediately. I have heard of a Betriebsrat, but I'm not sure exactly who they are or how they would be able to help me.

 

What is the purpose of a Betriebsrat, and can they override decisions like this when they are rather senseless and contradictory in a sense of keeping Germans who speak bad English, but letting go of someone who speaks fluent English but mediocre German?

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The betriebrat can't help you get a contract extension or a permanent contract.

 

Looking for another job is your only option.

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Talk to the Betreibsrat. Without knowing the specific contracts your company operates under, we cannot tell you if they can help. RF may work in a company with a rather pro-management BR. You may not.

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The concept of a Betriebsrat is kind of explained in Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codetermination_in_Germany

It's certainly worth contacting them to see if your boss is in violation of any applicable employment law and or regulations within the company. If she isn't, there isn't anything the Betriebsrat can do, but often employers get a bit more careful when they know someone is watching. Unfortunately for you, I think she'll be able to get you on the "fluent in German" requirement, which is probably just fine as a requirement for a job based in Germany.

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Companies give out 2 year contracts for a reason. 

 

All means talk to the Betriebrats, but I would be surprised if they can help you.

 

Your energy is really best served looking for another job.

 

By the way your boss does not have to give you a reason why he did not extend the contract, but he did.

 

Good Luck

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A Betriebsrat is an elected Works  Council (or Counciller ) who has  or should have  taken courses in German Labour Rights and   according to German Law (Betriebssverfassungs G ) should have been consulted and had to OK you being employed there. If you do not get an extension to your contract with an unlimited period of employment I would consider consulting a Lawyer who would check if your limited time contract was in order.

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Update: As it turns out, my boss isn't entirely responsible for extending my contract--she actually makes the recommendation to the HR department.

 

Which is who the Betriebsrat also negotiated with in addition to her.

 

In the end, they agreed to give me an unlimited contract on an unwritten condition that I take advanced German courses which they will pay for. Additionally, except for when I on the phone with customers, "Deutsch ist Amtsprache!" Fine.

 

New lesson of the day...the Betriebsrat IS quite useful after all.

 

Chew on THAT, RenegadeFurther. And digest it.B)

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