In Germany, the length of statutory minimum notice that must be given to employees to terminate their employment depends on the employee’s length of service. Under the German Civil Code, notice periods vary from four weeks in the first year of service to seven months after 20 years’ service. However, the German Civil Code provides that any service accrued before an employee reaches the age of 25 is not counted towards his period of service for the purposes of calculating statutory notice.
In a recent decision, the European Court of Justice ruled that the failure to recognize years of service prior to an employee’s 25th birthday is indirect age discrimination against younger employees. It reached this conclusion despite the fact that the German legislator considered such differentiation appropriate because younger employees generally tend to deliberately change employment more often than older employees. This means that German courts must dis-allow this provision of the German Civil Code, and that employers in Germany must take into account the total length of an employee’s period of service when calculating the employee’s notice period.