Employers must pay for travel time on the job, German court rules

Employers must pay for travel time on the job, German court rules
A businessman travelling for the job. Photo: depositphotos/VitalikRadko
If you travel for professional reasons, you can have your travel time remunerated like working hours - yet you must pay for detours yourself, ruled Federal Labour Court.

According to a ruling this week by Federal Labour Court (BAG), employees who work in the field or frequently have to go abroad may in future demand extra pay from their employer, reported the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Wednesday.

“If the employer temporarily sends an employee abroad, the trips to and from the external workplace are made exclusively in the employer's interest and are therefore usually to be remunerated like work,” the Erfurt judges said.

The decision was based on a case brought to the court by a technical employee from Rhineland-Palatinate whose boss sent him to China for the job. 

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The construction expert, who was visiting a building site on behalf of his job, needed four days for the return flight. Yet his employer only wanted to pay him for eight hours a day, rather than the extra 37 hours he had requested.

However, the employee didn’t fully have success with his argumentation, as the court ruled that unnecessary stopovers shouldn’t also qualify as “work time”.

The construction expert had asked his company to book him a flight on business class – meaning that a stopover in Dubai was necessary – rather than the economy class which the had originally planned.

Now the Rhineland-Palatinate State Labour Court must clarify if the business class flight was necessary and, as a result, if the employee can claim a full 37 hours of pay, or is due less.

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