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Germany – Dismissal protection for temporaries reinforced in court ruling

27 April 2012

A higher labour court in Germany has reinforced dismissal protection for temporary workers after it ruled that discharge is not lawful if the employer (i.e. a temporary employment agency) simply says there is no longer a need for a worker.

The court in Rhineland-Palatinate in Western Germany recently ruled that an employer is not allowed to dismiss a temporary worker on the termination of a contract with a client company that had hired a temporary worker.

In the dismissal protection suit, the court ruled in favour of the temporary employee who had her contract terminated in August 2011, after working for over three years. The employer said there was no need for the worker and informed the claimant of her dismissal in April 2011.

The employer argued that the client company in which the temporary employee was working was reducing staff levels and said that it could not offer a new job to the temporary worker as no new clients had been found. Hence the contract of employment was terminated.

However, the labour court ruled that on these grounds the termination was not valid. It said that, on the basis of job order and HR planning, an employer of temporary staff had to explain why there was not short-term order variation.

The court said that temporary workers are often used at short notice to work in different companies and the risks and liability therefore lie with the employer (in this case the temporary employment agency), and not the client company. In this case, full responsibility was given to the employer who was not allowed to suddenly dismiss the temporary worker after a short-term gap of unemployment, the court ruled.

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