In our Inhouse Top 5 section of the LaborLawMagazine, we are presenting all the important and practice-oriented topics that are high on the agenda of lead-ing labor lawyers in Germany and abroad. Since 2015, the core statement of this magazine has been: “From lawyers for companies.” In implementing this journalistic claim, it is helpful for all parties involved if external consultants actually know which questions move the client inhouse. With the Inhouse Top 5, we would like to contribute further to improving transparency in the German legal market in the future, on both the demand and supply side, with companies, law firms, auditing firms and service providers. Inhouse Top 5 supplements the practice-oriented reporting introduced in the LaborLawMagazine.And because time is a factor (and, of course, time is money), we tried to make our reporting as succinct as possible.
In this issue, our advisory board member Sebastian Mohr points out his Top 5 topics in Labor Law:
LaborLawMagazine – Inhouse Top 5
(1) Cross-border mobile working
Since the pandemic, there has been a desire among many employees to continue mobile working on a daily or more frequent basis than before. To this end, companies have implemented regulations that accommodate these wishes and enable mobile or hybrid working. However, it becomes legally difficult if employees wish to work from abroad. These wishes are increasingly being addressed, but – depending on the country – complex tax, labor law and social security issues have to be clarified.
(2) Influence of inflation on social dialogue
In many countries around the world, the rate of inflation has risen sharply in recent months. This has led to requests from unions and employee representatives for salary increases or other compensation. It is questionable to what extent the resulting cost increases can be passed on to customers. In any case, this is an issue that HR departments – and not least the labor relations officers – must address.
(3) Working hours – mobile working
While mobile working is relatively manageable in terms of its legal structure, the same does not apply to working time regulations in many countries – especially in many countries of the European Union. Employees often wish to take a break in the afternoon, e.g. for family matters, in order to continue working in the evening. However, this is sometimes contradicted by regulations on rest periods, which provide for an uninterrupted rest period of a certain length after the end of the daily working time. As a result, the period between the end of work and the start of work on the next morning may be too short.
(4) Working time – disrupted supply chains
Due to various factors, supply chains for many products are disrupted. This can lead to a significant distribution of work volume. Days with little work alternate with days on which, due to available parts, full production must be carried out in order to process existing orders. This is very challenging both in terms of planning and for the partners of the social dialog. Flexible shift models have to be developed to meet both the needs of the company and to protect employees from overwork.
Sustainability is also playing an increasingly important role in the design of employment conditions, at the latest since the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2016 or the EU CSR Directive. In the area of employment conditions, this involves a large number of elements that contribute in particular to a stronger bond between employees and the company to ensure fair, secure and future-oriented cooperation. On the one hand, there is the strengthening of employee autonomy through, for example, new freedoms in determining the type, scope or duration of work. Self-organized forms of work can also contribute to this. In addition, wages and salaries that guarantee employees and their families an adequate standard of living are also part of an element of sustainability. Last but not least, good social dialog is a crucial pillar of the design.