On 12 July 2016, the German Federal Employment Law Court ruled on the question whether the employee has the right to access his personnel file while having a lawyer present. It held that there is no need for the employee to have a lawyer present while accessing his personnel file, when the employer allows him to make copies of his file.
Sec. 83 of the German Works Constitution Act (Betriebsverfassungsgesetz – BetrVG) generally allows the employee to have a member of the works council present while accessing his personnel file. However, this does not constitute a right of the employee to have a lawyer present. In particular, when the employee is able to make copies of the relevant documentation, this is sufficient in order to fulfill his right of transparency. Any further rights – especially correction and deletion of parts of the personnel file – are parts of the downstream process and can be realized afterwards with such copies.