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Germany

Germany: Discrimination of Part-Time Employees on the Topic of Overtime Compensation

Authors: Verena Braeckeler-Kogel, MAES (Basel) and Meike Christine Rehner

Key Issues

It constitutes discrimination against part-time employees when national regulations link extra compensation to exceeding a set number of working hours, whereas the threshold of working hours that has to be exceeded to receive such additional compensation does not deviate between the regular working hours of full-time employees and the lower regular working hours of part-time employees. The case in question involves a framework agreement on part-time work from 1997 and raises concerns about the compatibility of such regulations with the EU Directive 97/81/EC. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has addressed key questions regarding the interpretation and application of the framework agreement.

 

Background

The case involves a dispute between a part-time pilot, M K, and Lufthansa CityLine GmbH, questioning the entitlement to additional compensation for extra flight duty. While working 90% of full-time hours, M K argued that he should receive additional compensation when exceeding the thresholds proportionate to his reduced working hours. However, the employer, CLH, applied the same thresholds for both part-time and full-time pilots.

The ECJ clarified that the national regulation, which uniformly ties extra compensation to exceeding the same number of working hours for part-time and full-time employees, constitutes “worse” treatment of part-time employees. Such treatment violates the EU Framework Agreement on Part-Time Work, prohibiting discrimination based on working hours.

 

ECJ Decision

  • Section 4, Number 1 of the Framework Agreement is interpreted to consider national regulations linking extra compensation to the same number of working hours for full-time and part-time employees as discriminatory.
  • Sections 4, Number 1 and 2 of the Framework Agreement are interpreted to oppose national regulations tying extra compensation to the same working hours for part-time and comparable full-time employees, aiming to offset a specific workload.

Practical Points

  • Employers need to be cognisant of employees’ rights under the GDPR even after the termination of employment. Personnel file management practices need to be regularly reviewed and updated to comply with evolving interpretations of GDPR in labour court decisions.
  • If an employee requests information disclosure under the GDPR, the deadlines according to GDPR standards must be observed to prevent potential compensation claims.