In the course of assembling a parliamentary majority after the 2013 federal elections in Germany, the CDU and SPD parties agreed in their coalition agreement on adopting legislation on increasing flexibility for employees. One of the proposals provides for the employee’s right to return to full-time work after a fixed period of part-time work. As the current session of the Bundestag comes to a close, the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs recently submitted a draft to address this objective.
The draft deals with the introduction of an employee’s right to return to full-time work after a certain period of part-time work. At the moment, the Part-Time and Temporary Employment Act allows any employee in a company with more than 15 employees to have his work schedule reduced to part-time work, yet there is no right to have full-time work reinstated as the employer may refer to important operational reasons that constitute an obstacle to the reinstatement of full-time work.
With the proposed change to the existing law the employer would have to prove that there is no suitable position available or that the employee is not suitable for any available position in order to ward off the employee’s claim. This change will especially affect medium-sized businesses as the minimum size of a company to be affected is set at only 15 employees.
It seems unlikely that the changes proposed by the German Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs will pass the Bundestag prior to the elections which will be held in September as the draft appears to be stuck in the coalition committee and the window for the whole legislative process will close soon. However, should the parties of CDU, CSU, and SPD form another “great coalition”, this might be one of the first legislative acts to follow.