Corona as an operational risk? – Judgment on mini jobbers expected

Released on 13.10. 2021

  • A waiter clears a table in a restaurant. The Federal Labor Court now wants to clarify in principle whether mini-jobbers can insist on payment if their work was not needed during the lockdown phases in the corona pandemic. Photo: Sebastian Gollnow

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Can mini-jobbers insist on payment if their work was not needed during the lockdown phases in the corona pandemic? The Federal Labor Court now wants to clarify this in principle.

Erfurt (dpa) – The first labor law dispute that has its origin in the Corona crisis has reached Germany’s highest labor judges.

The Federal Labor Court is engaged in a hearing in Erfurt with the payment of mini-jobbers in the specialist retail trade, which was repeatedly closed during the lockdown phases. The judges are also looking into the question of whether the consequences of a pandemic are part of the general operational risk of entrepreneurs, as the plaintiff from Lower Saxony thinks.

What is it specifically? The lawsuit is being negotiated by a woman from Lower Saxony who was employed as a marginal employee in a branch for sewing machines and accessories as a saleswoman. Due to the corona infections in the region, the business had to remain closed for the entire April 2020 – the woman became a saleswoman not needed. She insists on the 432 euros net that she has agreed with her employer for the job as remuneration.

In her lawsuit, she argued that the closure of the business due to an official order due to the pandemic was part of the operational risk that the defendant employer had to bear. The mini jobber was successful in the first two instances in Lower Saxony, her employer is now defending herself against this before the Federal Labor Court did not play such a big role: mini jobbers, of which there are hundreds of thousands, mainly in service industries. In retail alone, according to figures from the German Trade Association (HDE), at the beginning of the year it was around 808. 000 marginally employed. “The vast majority work in food retailers or drugstores, which, unlike specialist retailers, were not affected by the Corona closings,” said a spokesman Part-time employees will be sent on short-time work. They are employees with a maximum of 450 Euro monthly wages or a work commitment of a maximum of 70 days per calendar year. You do not pay any social security contributions. How many mini-jobbers shared the plaintiff’s fate is open – neither the trade association nor the Verdi union have any data on this.

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