Employment contracts generally do not require written form in order to be valid.
The newly introduced German Verification Act (Nachweisgesetz – NachwG), which implements the EU Directive on transparent and predictable working conditions (EU 2019/1152), provides for a verification and documentation obligation on the part of the employer since 1 August 2022. This means that the essential terms and conditions of employment must be set out in writing, signed by a representative of the employer (wet ink) and provided to the employee. Violations of the NachwG do not result in the invalidity of the employment contract but can be penalised with a fine of up to EUR 2,000.00 per case.
The verification under the NachwG, which can be given as part of the written employment contract or separately, must contain at least the following:
- name and address of the employer and the employee;
- information on the starting date of the employment;
- the end date or anticipated duration of employment (only in case of fixed-term contracts);
- the place of work or a notice on the possibility to freely choose the place of work, if applicable;
- the nature of the activity involved;
- duration of the probationary period, if agreed;
- the composition and amount of the remuneration, including remuneration for overtime, bonuses, allowances, premiums and special payments as well as other components of remuneration, each of which must be stated separately, and, for all remuneration components, their due date and the method of payment;
- the working hours and rest periods;
- in case of shift work, details of the shift system, rhythm and possibilities for change;
- in the case of on-call work, precise details of the arrangement;
- if agreed, the possibility to instruct overtime and its prerequisites;
- the duration of annual leave;
- any entitlement to further training provided by the employer;
- name and address of the pension provider, if a company pension scheme exists;
- the procedure to be followed in the event of termination, at least the requirement for written form, the period of notice and the period for filing a lawsuit against a termination; and
- a general reference to the collective bargaining agreements, works or service agreements applicable to the employment relationship, if any.
To avoid future disputes, a version of the employment contract should be drafted in German. However, this is not required by law.