International business trips are becoming increasingly more common for German companies. Hence, the question arises as to whether employees are entitled to remuneration for business trips. The remuneration is particularly problematic if no provisions are included in collective or individual employment agreements.
The Federal Labor Court (BAG) recently had to decide on the following case: An employee working in the German building industry as a construction site manager travelled to China on a business trip. Subsequently, he claimed remuneration for the entire travel time. The court affirmed the employee’s entitlement.
Differentiation of travel times in Germany
The Federal Labor Court distinguishes between travel times accomplished during regular contractual working hours and travel times outside regular working hours. Travel times during regular working hours must generally be remunerated if the journey is exclusively made at the employer’s request. In the event that travel times exceed normal working hours, section 612 (1) of the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch; “BGB”) applies if the individual employment agreement or the collective agreement contain no other provisions. Accordingly, remuneration is deemed tacitly agreed if the service can only be expected in return for remuneration.
Financial consequences for German employers
The decision may have far-reaching financial consequences for German employers whose employees travel a lot. Due to the open wording of the law, we recommend employers, who wish to be on the safe side, to adopt a contractual provision. In this context, employers should note that the agreement must be formulated clearly and comprehensibly to be effective. In addition, employers should remember that the respective provision must in no case fall short of the minimum wage.
Our attorneys for employment law will be happy to answer all your questions regarding the remuneration of business trips and German employment law in general.