By judgment of 1 January 2017 (BAG, docket number 2 AZR 68/16), the Federal Labour Court ruled that a contract offer communicated by a termination with change of terms of employment has to be as precise as possible so that the employee can readily accept the contract offer.
The parties were in dispute about a change of terms of employment. After a serious accident the plaintiff, an electrical engineer, suffered from serious head injuries. After a special test, the defendant assumed that the plaintiff was no longer able to do complex programming operations for the company. Therefore, the defendant offered him a termination with change of terms of employment, under which he would still work as an electrical engineer but his task field would no longer include the creation of software but would be “all work in the warehouse”. In addition to that, the plaintiff would agree to “working on construction sites”. His hourly wage should be 8,50 € gross (instead of 2.709 € gross/month as before).The plaintiff accepted the offer under the condition of the social justification of the change of the working conditions. The Labour Court (Arbeitsgericht) and the Higher Labour Court (Landesarbeitsgericht) rejected the employee’s claim regarding the lack of social justification for the change.
The plaintiff’s appeal to the Federal Labor Court was successful. According to the ruling, the changes to the plaintiff’s working conditions were not socially justified. The termination with change of terms of employment was not as precise as possible so that the employee could readily accept the contract offer, because the plaintiff could not know what his duties under the contract would be. In addition, the plaintiff could not extrapolate from the offered hourly wage to a particular occupation.