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Work: unfair night surcharges? – Policy decision expected

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Do different surcharges for regular and irregular night work violate the principle of equality? This is a contentious issue in a number of industries. There will be answers soon.

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The dispute over night work premiums in sectors such as the beverage and food industry could end in the coming months. The President of the Federal Labor Court, Inken Gallner, announced fundamental decisions by the highest German labor judges in Erfurt. The first, which is about the beverage company Coca-Cola, is expected to fall on February 22, Gallner told the German Press Agency in Erfurt.

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The question to be answered is whether different amounts of supplements for regular and irregular night work violate the principle of equality. Often significantly higher supplements for employees who only rarely do night work have been the cause of disputes in many German companies for years. “This will be one of the big issues at the Federal Labor Court in 2023,” said Gallner.

400 procedures on the subject complex

The Tenth Senate had a total of around 400 procedures on this topic from six different sectors. These included the confectionery industry, but also dairies. “The Tenth Senate will look at each collective agreement and make individual decisions based on the agreements,” said the President. Ultimately, it is about paying shift workers – who are regularly in production at night.

According to the President, the Federal Labor Court (BAG) appealed to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) at the end of 2020. However, there was no fundamental decision from the European judges in Luxembourg. In July 2022, the ECJ declared that the EU charter, to which two plaintiffs referred, does not apply in this dispute. This means that the case is not a question of European law – and the decision lies solely with the highest German labor judges.

Surcharges between 20 to 50 percent

Some time ago, the Food-Genuss-Gaststätten union (NGG) pointed out thousands of procedures for the interpretation of collective bargaining agreements with employers’ associations in the food industry in the various labor court instances. In some areas, the surcharges should be 20 percent of the hourly wage for regular night work, but 50 percent for irregular night work.

According to Gallner, depending on the collective agreement, negotiations and decisions by the Federal Labor Court on the amount of night work supplements are expected in February, March and June of this year.

Source: Stern

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