Decision on overtime bonuses: ECJ strengthens rights of temporary workers

Status: 01/13/2022 1:25 p.m.

The ECJ has strengthened the rights of temporary workers when calculating surcharges for overtime: These would also have to be approved in months in which they do not have a minimum number of pure working hours due to vacation.

By Bernd Wolf, ARD legal editor

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has strengthened the rights of workers – especially those who work for temporary employment agencies. The highest EU court ruled that no collective agreement should prevent an employee from asserting his or her right to minimum paid annual leave.

Temporary workers from North Rhine-Westphalia had sued

The Federal Labor Court had previously asked the ECJ whether it was compatible with EU law for an employer to exclude the statutory vacation periods of an employee when calculating the overtime bonuses. A temporary worker had sued: The collective wage agreement for temporary work guaranteed him a 25 percent overtime bonus if he worked 23 days a month in excess of 184 hours. Hours worked should only be hours actually worked – vacation times should not be counted.

His employer, Koch Personaldienstleistungen from North Rhine-Westphalia, accordingly refused him overtime bonuses for the time in which he took ten days of annual leave and thus did not get the necessary minimum number of hours.

Employees must not be prevented from vacation

The ECJ has now ruled that such a reduction in overtime allowances is not possible. Because such a regulation prevents employees from taking vacation, which they need for their safety and health.

Two German labor courts had given the temporary employment agency from North Rhine-Westphalia right – after the ECJ ruling, the Federal Labor Court must now decide. The man has to get his bonuses paid.

Ref. C-514/20

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