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Germany – Court rules agency worker has no right to permanent employment

19 October 2012

Agency workers have no right to demand direct or permanent employment even if they have worked for the same client company over a period of four years, the regional labour court in Berlin-Brandenburg ruled this week.

The case sheds light on the interpretation of the temporary employment act, enforced in 2011, defining the use of agency work to be of a “temporary” nature.

Critics have argued that this definition is not precise enough, allowing firms to use agency workers for longer periods, even years, without having to employ the worker directly. This was the case for an agency nurse, working at a private clinic, who argued that she was no longer working temporarily at the staffing buyer after over four years of employment.

But the court disagreed, saying that the law does not define the length of a “temporary” assignment. Moreover, the temporary employment act does not state whether agency workers have the right to demand direct employment if they are working for a period that cannot be said to be of temporary nature.

The judges allowed the decision to be appealed in the Federal Labour Court.  

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