An update on all foreseeable and relevant changes relating to German employment law has been summarised for your convenience below.
The New Year 2020 has brought some changes regarding minimum wages in Germany. With effect as of 1 January 2020, a new statutory minimum wage for apprentices has come into effect. It amounts to EUR 515.00 gross per month and will gradually increase during the following years. Furthermore, the statutory minimum wage for employees has increased from EUR 9.19 to EUR 9.35 gross per hour with effect as of 1 January 2020. Further increases to the minimum wage are likely, but are not expected before the beginning of next year.
From 1 March 2020 onwards, immigration to Germany will become much easier for skilled employees, as a new immigration law will be introduced. It will become easier for employees from Non-EU and Non-EEA countries with a university degree or a completed qualified apprenticeship to work in Germany. The new law is a response to the lack of skilled workers in Germany and considerably eases the requirements for labour migration to Germany.
As of 3 September 2020, a new law regarding the remuneration of members of the management board will come into force. Among other things, the new law provides that the supervisory board of a listed stock corporation must determine a remuneration system, including a maximum remuneration for the members of the management board as of 2021. The shareholders’ meeting has the power to lower the maximum remuneration through a resolution, which is binding for the supervisory board. However, such resolution does not affect already existing contracts.
The German government furthermore approved the concept of an electronic certificate in cases of work incapacity due to sickness. However, the implementation of this new system shall only take place as of 1 January 2022. Currently, employees have to prove their incapacity to work by submitting a certificate, filled out by their doctor, in paper form to their employers. This will be abolished as of 1 January 2022 and replaced by an electronic reporting system.
The impact of the European Union will also lead to changes in German employment law. In reaction to a ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) from last year, changes regarding the local statutory requirements on the recording of working time will become necessary. The German Working Time Act will have to be reviewed and amended in light of the new case law. However, both the exact content of such changes as well as the timeline currently remain unclear and are hardly predictable. Changes to German law are also expected as a result of the EU having recently approved a directive aimed at extending and harmonising the protection of whistleblowers. Nevertheless, actual changes will depend on the implementation of the directive by the member states, which is expected to take place next year, at the latest.
Brexit has been a controversial topic of discussion in Germany over the past year. As it currently stands, Brexit is still scheduled for 31 January 2020, even though the European Union and Great Britain have still not concluded an agreement for the post-Brexit period. In light of this, the German legislator has already enacted regulations that come into force in case Great Britain leaves the EU without a deal. On this basis, British citizens will have simplified access to employment in Germany even after Brexit. In particular, British citizens who already live and work in Germany, will remain entitled to stay and continue working without any restrictions. British citizens entering Germany after Brexit will be permitted to live and work in Germany under simplified conditions, at least for a transitional period.