In Germany, employees have the statutory right to ask their employers to pay part of their future earnings – up to 4 % of the relevant contribution assessment ceiling for the statutory pension fund – into an occupational pension scheme through the conversion of earnings into pension contributions. The German Federal Labour Court recently ruled that employers are not obliged to make their employees aware of this entitlement.

In the present case a retired employee sued his former employer on the ground that he had failed to inform him about this right. The employee argued that if he had been aware of it, he would have spent an amount of EUR 215.00 of his monthly earnings on an occupational pension scheme.

The German Federal Labour Court – as well as the lower courts – dismissed the employee’s claim for damages. The highest German labour court judges pointed out in their reasoning that the employer has not committed a breach of duty because employers neither had a statutory obligation to inform nor a related duty of care.

The judgment confirms the principle that employees themselves are responsible for their private savings for retirement as this is part of their individual and personal life planning. In the field of self-financed occupational pension schemes, employees therefore have to acquire the relevant information themselves.