Do employees have a claim against their employer for the provision of a free parking space after using a company space free of charge for years? No, according to the State Labour Court of Baden-Württemberg.
In this case, the employee argued that his rights had been violated after he had to start paying to park his car following the reconstruction and conversion of the old parking lot he used which belonged to a medical clinic. Prior to the reconstruction, employees had not been required to pay any fees for parking. During the reconstruction, however, the previous parking space was removed and was not replaced, and new paid parking spaces were introduced to help pay for the reconstruction.
The employee who brought the claim argued that he was entitled to a free parking space on the basis of previous custom and practice. A company custom and practice term in a contract can be established where there is the regular repetition of certain uniform behaviour on the part of the employer which enables the employee to infer that he should be granted a certain benefit or privilege on a permanent basis.
The State Labour Court of Baden-Württemberg rejected the arguments for a company practice sufficient to grant a contractual right and decided that the employer was not obliged to provide the employee with a free parking space. The employee could not justifiably assume that his employer would allow him to use the clinic’s parking lot free of charge in the future. The Court further stated that the employer was not obliged to provide its employees with parking spaces at all. In this respect, this is no different to the provision of company social facilities such as cafeterias, nursery schools or support funds. Neither individual employees nor works councils can compel the establishment of such facilities by the employer. Due to the costly redesign of the parking lot, the employees of the clinic reasonably had to assume that when the employer was creating new parking options, request for payment was to be expected, particularly in light of the fact that the parking spaces had become an “expensive commodity.”