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Problems with working contract

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Hi all! First post here.

 

Short story  

 

How to get out of a contract with a dishonest company before contract starts?

 

Long story

 

I signed a contract for Germany as a Software Developer. I have the following problem. I was recruited by a person from East Germany, my interviewer was also from there and I signed the contract there. During the interview we agreed that for some reason they decide to send me to a different city, they will adjust my salary. Sadly, we didn’t put this in the contract. The only thing that is written there is can work at the client’s office (but it is also not specified how far away that can be). I was called on the phone at asked to come for an interview in one of the most expensive cities in Germany. When I asked about the adjustment, they said there is no such thing and I cannot refuse their job as it will have negative impact on their reputation. I asked to talk to upper management or the guy who was there when I signed the contract, to no avail. Instead one of their managers started to shout at me (I asked him politely not behave this way). Then they asked me to leave the building and was threatened that I will never get a job in Germany. There is also the other thing that there is a specified number of hours and salary in the contract which they also didn’t follow. I was asked to work for less hours and receive less money. I guess it will be hard to prove my case, but at the same time if I don’t show up in office I have to pay a hefty fine, which is not a big problem, but I would rather donate this money to the Australia animals than give to such dishonest people.

P.S. I am outside of Germany my contract will start soon. I try to avoid as much details as possible as I don't know who is reading this forum. I am quite surprised that a company with 1000+ employees in Germany can do such a thing

 

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The easiest way to get out of the contract would be to get sick. They can't prove you aren't and they will certainly lose interest in employing you. They can ask for a doctor's note and you can get one. Feeling stressed because of the situation? That's your doctor's note right there.

 

I don't know how they plan to stop you from ever working in Germany.

 

When signing a contract make sure it includes things like whether you are supposed to work overtime, whether you travel etc. If you are traveling the employer must pay for your travel costs. If you drive your own car you should get 0.30€ per km. If you are temporarily sent to another city, the employer needs to pay for your hotel or other accommodation. Some employers will give you an allowance for food at 24€ per day and if they don't you can claim it on your tax return but only for the first 3 months you are in that location. This however sounds like because you aren't currently living in Germany they don't have to pay you any travel costs and just expect you to settle where the client is, even though it's a much more expensive city.

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what are the terms of your kündigungsfrist?  What is your notice period and have they somehow barred you from having a two week cancellation period for the first 6 months?  As far as I know it can't be more than 4 weeks to the 15th or end of the month at the start as you have not yet completed the wartungszeit, but maybe someone else can comment on the longest possible kündigungsfrist on the employee side in the first 6 months of employment if 4 weeks isn't right. 

 

Does the contract explicitly bar you from submitting your resignation before your contract starts? The most common way of doing it is to simply give your two week's notice that you are quitting before you even start.  In the worst case they MIGHT be able to demand you show up for however many days to finish out the notice period, but some contracts have clauses against quitting before commencing work.  But even if there is such a clause, you could tell them now that you will be cancelling your contract at the first opportunity and be prepared for the worst case scenario wherein you have to go work for them for a month (usually only 2 weeks) then leave - and/or follow Leon's advice to get sick in the meantime.  In reality most employers will just drop it as putting you on the books will not be worth the effort if they already know you're not going to stay, not to mention the risk to their reputation of supplying a worker to the client who quickly disappears. 

 

Your location seems to be all over the map - Freiburg?  out of the country?  eastern Germany?  This is not helpful.  If you are not yet a German resident I'm not sure how or if they can file a claim against you for the "fine" - for that you should speak with a lawyer who can review your contract and give you advice with all the details in view.  

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Thank you for the quick replies people!

 

Yes my notice period is 2 weeks. It is written in the contract.

 

The company has clients everywhere, so according to them they can send me all over Germany. So this is why my location is all over the place.

 

What about the Aufhebungsvertrag?

 

Also shouldn't it be illegal to lower the Festgehalt and also the working hours? I guess that I can present the emails as evidence that they are changing the contract.

 

I guess they can chase me to pay the fine based on the fact that I am from the EU.

 

Any good sites with lawyers?

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I don't think they can cut your hours if you have a contract saying something else but some will try. It looks like the employer thinks that you need this job more than they need you so they will try to push you and see what happens. 

 

I assume they want to cut the hours in your contract because they have found a client who has a shorter work week. Say if you have a 40 hr contract but you are placed with a client where you only work 35, you are missing 5 hrs every week. The employer has to pay you for those hours according to your contract. They can only get them back if there is an overtime account and you are later placed with a client where you earn overtime in which case you won't get paid for it because it will cancel out against your earlier negative overtime. If you quit while you still have negative overtime the employer can't get it back.

 

Aufhebungsvertrag is when you and your employer agree that you quit with certain terms, for example without notice. Did the employer offer that? 

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LeonG thanks for all the help so far! I suggested to the employer that we sign a Aufhebungsvertrag. In the meantime the company is trying to cover up the messy situation by offering me work for different clients, but so far I am not happy about how they are doing business. I checked Glassdoor reviews and found the following:

 

"The trick is they give a 42 hours/ week contract in the company where the official working hours are 40h/week so even if you have an overtime, you will never get paid but themselves will charge these hours to the client!"

 

So it seems they are trying to pull a similar number on me and as I said they are not holding up to their promises so far.

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5 hours ago, cloudyweather said:

"The trick is they give a 42 hours/ week contract in the company where the official working hours are 40h/week so even if you have an overtime, you will never get paid but themselves will charge these hours to the client!"

 

Didn't you say they wanted to give you less hours, not more? That would make more sense to me. 

 

Overtime is often banked in Germany. That means you don't get paid for it until you have reached a certain number of hours which could be 100-200 depending on the company.  Many employers prefer you to take time off against overtime and many employees prefer it too. 

 

So whether you work 40 or 45 or some other number of hours, the excess above what is in your contract goes into the overtime account which can also be negative if you work less hours than your contract states. The company benefits more by keeping your overtime positive because they have to pay you your salary every month regardless so if you don't have a project at some point they can take it off your overtime.  If they let your overtime go into the negative it means you actually owe them because they've paid you for hours you haven't worked but legally if you quit with negative hours they can't bill you for it.

 

As for what they are billing the client that's not really your concern. Your agreement is with the agency, not the client. If you want to work for clients directly you can work as a contractor. You can make more money but have less security.

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Sorry for bringing this thread to the top again.

 

"Didn't you say they wanted to give you less hours, not more? That would make more sense to me." - I wrote that this is a comment from Glassdoor it is not my case. But who knows maybe the company wants to pay me for 35 hours and charge the client for 40.

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2 hours ago, cloudyweather said:

Sorry for bringing this thread to the top again.

 

"Didn't you say they wanted to give you less hours, not more? That would make more sense to me." - I wrote that this is a comment from Glassdoor it is not my case. But who knows maybe the company wants to pay me for 35 hours and charge the client for 40.

 

Working through an agency, you have your contract with them and in most cases you will not find out what kind of deal they have with the client.

 

If the client is happy paying 40 hrs while you only work 35, that's his problem. If you are actually expected to work 40 you will get paid for them eventually if you have an overtime account. However make sure it's all crystal clear in your contract. I once made the mistake of signing a contract where it wasn't specified and it turned out to be my boss' understanding that it was unpaid.

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