Who pays the tariff

German Trade Union Confederation

A collective agreement regulates the rights and obligations of employees and employers. This includes working conditions such as wages, salaries, working hours and vacation entitlement.

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What does a collective agreement regulate?

A collective agreement regulates the rights and obligations of employees and employers and thus many questions about working conditions such as:

  • Wage and salary
  • the duration of the weekly working time
  • the maximum duration of daily working hours
  • the classification
  • the amount of the fee with a corresponding grouping
  • the payment of allowances and supplements, for example in the case of overtime
  • the modalities for the introduction of short-time work
  • the length of the vacation
  • the entitlement to continued remuneration in the event of illness

When does a collective agreement apply?

Whether a collective agreement applies to an employment relationship depends on whether the employer and employee are bound by collective bargaining agreements. If the employer has joined his employers' association and the employee has joined the responsible trade union, the case is clear: the collective agreement applies. A collective agreement can also be concluded with one employer alone, a so-called company collective agreement or "company collective agreement". The regulations of the collective agreements can also be agreed in the employment contract.

When is a collective agreement "generally binding"?

In special cases, collective agreements can also be used if there is no membership in a trade union or the employers' association - namely if the state, i.e. the responsible federal ministers or state ministers, has declared the collective agreement to be generally binding.

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Who concludes collective agreements?

The collective agreement is a binding agreement between the union and the employers' association or the individual employer. The union members of the respective branch or company can participate in a collective agreement. To this end, the union forms collective bargaining commissions in which union members from the companies are represented. The negotiations in one branch can then be conducted by union members from different companies. As a rule, these are supported by elected or commissioned union secretaries.

When can strikes occur in collective bargaining?

If the employer does not want to conclude the collective agreement or only wants to conclude it in a modified form, the union members have the right to stop work and strike for their demands. In doing so, they exert economic pressure on the employer in order to be able to negotiate working conditions on an equal footing. Since no wages or salaries are paid during a strike, the union takes over for its members in this case. Strike support is paid, which is financed from membership fees. The financial security enables the union to conduct its negotiations independently and in a self-organized manner. For this reason, union secretaries are also paid from membership fees.

What are the advantages of a collective agreement?

The special thing about a collective agreement is that the negotiated working conditions for the members in the associations apply directly and compulsorily. That means: Not every and every employee has to negotiate individually with the employer, but can automatically make use of the provisions of the collective agreement. They are as effective as if they were stipulated in the employment contract. And: If something worse was agreed in the employment contract than in the collective agreement, the regulation of the collective agreement automatically applies.

What is the favorability principle?

According to the favourability principle, the regulation that is more favorable for the employees always applies. Example: If the employment contract states that the working week is 38.5 hours, but the collective agreement stipulates a 37-hour week, the additional 1.5 hours do not have to be worked. The regulation of the collective agreement takes the place of the regulation in the employment contract. However, the reverse does not apply: if the agreements in the individual employment contract are more advantageous for the employee, the collective bargaining agreement does not apply at this point. If, for example, an hourly wage of 20 euros is agreed in the employment contract, although the collective agreement only provides for 17.50 euros, the wage of 20 euros / hour remains.

What is collective bargaining autonomy?

The Basic Law guarantees trade unions and employers the freedom of association, which means they can - protected as a fundamental right - regulate working and economic conditions independently and independently of the state. This freedom of association guarantees employees to join together in trade unions and Collective agreements complete. Article 9 paragraph 3 GG freedom of association and collective bargaining autonomy: “The right to maintain and promote working and economic conditions to form associations is guaranteed for everyone and all professions. Agreements that restrict or attempt to hinder this right are void, measures aimed at this are unlawful. "

The Collective Agreement Act regulates what a collective agreement is - and who can conclude collective agreements: "The collective agreement regulates the rights and obligations of the parties to the collective bargaining agreement and contains legal norms that can regulate the content, conclusion and termination of employment relationships as well as issues relating to company and works constitution law." (§1 TVG)
The "parties to the collective bargaining agreement are the trade unions, individual employers and employers' associations." (§2, sentence 1 TVG).

Do minimum wages restrict collective bargaining autonomy?

In Germany, in addition to the industry minimum wages, there has also been a general statutory minimum wage since 1.1.2015. Before it was introduced, opponents argued that a statutory minimum wage would interfere with collective bargaining autonomy. After all, so the claim, the collective bargaining partners should determine how high the wages of employees are.

But this claim is a classic flawed argument. Because the wages could and can of course continue to be freely negotiated by the collective bargaining partners, the minimum wage is only a securing lower limit. This must not be undercut. In this way, collective bargaining autonomy can develop freely without intervention by the state.

In many sectors employers refuse to agree to collective bargaining agreements - or the bargaining power of the employees is insufficient to agree adequate wages, so that minimum wages have to replace the unused collective bargaining autonomy. The statutory, nationwide minimum wage represents the absolute minimum; it has to be adjusted regularly. The minimum wages in the sector will continue to be negotiated - above this level - by the collective bargaining partners. And the best solution is regular collective agreements that regulate higher wages and many other working conditions.