Collective agreement: please pay attention

When was the last time you dealt with collective bargaining ? Probably always when a big strike, such as the engine driver or pilot, goes through the media and the demands and offers of the two sides are negotiated. Not all collective agreements are negotiated so big. According to the Verdi union, around 50,000 collective agreements in Germany are very important to many workers. When does a collective agreement apply? What is in such a contract and for whom are the provisions made valid?

Collective agreement Definition: What is it?
when does a collective agreement apply to IG Metall contentBy nature, there are conflicting interests between employer and employee. A collective agreement ensures that the structural inequality of the employee side towards the employer side is compensated.

It is concluded between the trade unions (representative of the employees) and the employers' associations (with association rates representative of the employer) or individual employers (at home, company or factory rates).

The right to make the rules of the employment relationship largely independent of the state (in compliance with the law) is called collective bargaining autonomy .

About one fifth of workers in Germany are organized in a trade union , and the trend has been declining for years. They give workers the opportunity to enforce their demands, for example by means of a strike. As an individual employee, on the other hand, it would be very difficult to change anything about his work situation .

The legal basis of the collective agreement - in Austria collective agreement, called in Switzerland collective labor agreement - is the collective agreement law (TVG) . As with any contract, the content is usually compulsory for both sides, this is called collective bargaining .

When does a collective agreement apply?
Collective agreement IG Metall collective agreement definitionIn North Rhine-Westphalia alone, there are several thousand different collective agreements . In order to clarify whether and, if so, which collective agreement applies to you, some points must be clarified in advance:

collective action
You are a member of the union and your employer is part of the employers' association that has the collective agreement? Then your employment falls under the so-called tariff effect and the agreements are valid for you.

Individual agreement
The validity of a collective agreement can also be stated in the employment contract. Even if you are not a member of a union, you can arrange for the collective agreement to apply to your employment.

General liability
It is possible that a collective agreement by the Federal Minister in the status of general liability will be lifted. This can happen when the tariff effect is insufficient to protect the various workers in an industry.

There are cases where the employer is a member of the employers' organization, but it contains a statute that allows non-tariff membership (so-called OT membership). Trade unions speak here of tariff flight , because the contents of the collective agreement are no longer binding for the employer.

What content is there?
Collective agreements include a mandatory (compulsory) part , which includes the rights and obligations, and a normative part , which sets labor standards. This is particularly interesting for employees because it deals with the employment relationship and the related issues.

The most important points within a collective agreement are:

working hours
Not everyone works the same number of hours a week. A collective agreement can also reduce working hours, for example to a maximum of 37.5 hours per week.

Also read:

Working time: How long is working?
A common point of contention and one of the main demands of the unions in collective bargaining is the salary or salary of the employees. This determines how much the employee earns or in what increments the salary is increased.

Also read:

Describe salary requirements: tips, rules, mistakes
working conditions
The conditions under which a job can be done can make a big difference to the workforce in the daily work routine. Are they exposed to noise, dust or exhaust fumes? Do you work outdoors, is the work predominantly physical or sitting? These circumstances contribute significantly to the well-being and thus to the working atmosphere. That's why unions are calling for better working conditions for their members.

Also read:

Working atmosphere: That's how it can be improved
notice periods
In collective agreements, longer periods of notice than the statutory ones are often agreed. This depends on the length of service and is regulated, for example, in the public service in § 34 TVöD . Anyone who has worked for more than one year has a notice period of a maximum of six months at the end of a quarter. However, shorter periods of notice than the statutory periods may also be agreed. In addition to terminations, a collective agreement regulates redundancies and hiring procedures for new employment relationships.

Also read:

Notice periods: examples, information, tips
leave entitlement
It can be agreed in a collective agreement that the employee's holiday entitlement is increased beyond the statutory minimum entitlement. For example, through the union's negotiations, a leave entitlement of 30 days can be enforced instead of the legally prescribed 24 days.

Also read:

Legal holiday entitlement: This is yours
additional services
Also, additional benefits to employees, for example in the form of Christmas bonus , can be agreed in the collective agreement. The exact services agreed here vary from industry to industry.

Also read:

Additional services: The most popular among employees
Differences between employment contract and collective agreement
Employment contract collective agreement difference salary IG metalIf an employment contract regulates the employment relationship between the contracting parties and a collective agreement as well - what is the difference?

Initially purely formal in the target group. The aim of a collective agreement is to determine the working and income conditions of the union members . Only members of the union have a legal right to the benefits agreed in the collective agreement.

In practice, the regulations are also applied to other employees . The background is that the employer would otherwise drive the employees into the arms of the union and that is not in his interest.

This application of the rules to non-union members is referred to as a gender equality agreement . It is a clause in the employment contract , by means of which a collective employer determines that this collective agreement and any subsequent collective agreements (dynamic reference clause ) also apply to this employee.

Another difference is that the Collective Bargaining Act applies directly , without the need for further agreement or confirmation between employer and employee. For the employee, this means that provisions in the employment contract are invalid if they violate the TVG.

There is also tariff priority. If a contract of employment contains unfavorable regulations for the employee , the collective agreement applies. Since the focus is always on the well-being of the employee, there is an exception with the principle of favoritism, which may deviate from the collective agreement:

If an employee succeeds in negotiating better terms in an employment contract than the collective agreement would provide, the employment contract will apply.

What types of collective agreements are there?
Of the more than 50,000 collective agreements, between 6,000 and 7,000 are renewed each year . Wage and salary agreements are usually renewed every one to two years, and framework agreements and collective agreements governing general working conditions are more widely spaced.

About 50 percent of all employees in West Germany and 34 percent in East Germany work according to the Institute for Employment Research in companies with collective bargaining coverage. Not all collective agreements are identical. Some differ primarily in who is affected by the arrangements that could be agreed and what areas the contract deals with.

Association collective agreement
This type is also called sector or area collective agreement and is the most common form of collective agreement in Germany. It is valid, for example, for an industry or a predetermined tariff district, such as a specific state. Since they are mostly closed at the regional level, there are minor differences between the contracts. The salary increases are usually not affected by this, with the exception of eastern Germany: the average wage there only corresponds to 96.5 percent of the western salary.

Company agreement
As you probably rightly conclude from the name, this contract arises between a trade union and a single company, which is why it is also called a company collective agreement. Well-known examples of company collective agreements are the collective agreement between the IG Metall and the car manufacturer Volkswagen or the company collective agreement between IG Bergbau, Chemie, Energie and the big oil companies. If this collective agreement is based on industry-specific tariffs, or if some of the contents of industry-specific collective bargaining agreements are taken over, the agreement on collective bargaining agreements is mentioned, since contents of another collective agreement are recognized.

Multi-level collective agreement
This is a slightly more specialized form of collective agreement. In this case, the contracting party may be several parties on both sides. For example, five unions can negotiate with several employers' organizations at the same time. Unless otherwise specified, there are several contracts here that can be terminated or changed separately, for example, by each collective bargaining party. However, it can just as well be stated that all or certain rights can only be applied together. One speaks then of uniform tariff.

If a distinction is made on the basis of the content, an outline is made, for example, in :

Collective agreement
The collective agreement (also referred to as collective agreement) deals with some important issues of the employment relationship. These include primarily working hours, vacation entitlement or notice periods. However, it also regulates the division of employees into different pay groups, which are differentiated on the basis of the work content of each employee. An advantage of these contracts is their long term, which can sometimes even be unlimited.

Salary collective agreement
In order to guarantee an appropriate remuneration of the members, unions conclude salary agreements with the employers' associations. As a result, workers covered by the contract can be sure not to be paid under tariff. However, the terms of such contracts are significantly shorter than, for example, in a collective agreement.

Connection collective agreement
A collective agreement that is terminated between the employee and employer representatives and becomes effective immediately after the renegotiation of a collective agreement is referred to as a collective agreement.

Parallel collective agreement
This collective agreement is similar to the collective agreement, since collective agreements of the same content are concluded by various trade unions and employers' associations and their contents are recognized.

Plight collective agreement
This type of collective agreement (also known as the restructuring collective agreement) comes into force when an economic distress or insolvency of the company is to be avoided. This often results in losses in the area of ​​special payments and work extensions without pay compensation. In return, it is necessary to prevent redundancies.

Benefits of collective bargaining
Notwithstanding the fact that there are thousands of collective agreements in North Rhine-Westphalia alone, there are also sectors and companies in which there is no collective agreement . On the one hand, the low-wage sector, which often pays the legal minimum wage, deserves special mention .

These include companies that work in the area of facility management, security or in the cleaning industry. Completely different is the public service, but also the financial and insurance industry and the construction industry. Collective agreements are the order of the day here.

Also crucial to the question of whether an employee receives a collective agreement is the farm size. Both for industry collective agreements and house or company collective agreements, the following applies: As the size of a business increases, the probability of collective bargaining increases. Magnitudes are here companies with 200 employees.

Collective agreements essentially fulfill three functions :

Collective bargaining regulates the labor market, because the binding requirements for individual employment contracts ensure that the price for the work is at least somewhat removed from the possible competition between the employees.

peace function
The contracting parties are prohibited from conducting labor disputes over the regulated content during the term of the collective agreement.

distribution function
A binding wage and salary structure guarantees workers' participation in the social product.

In addition to the above three aspects, we want to clarify the benefits of a collective agreement listed by contracting party here: Who works as a worker in a collective-bound enterprise, benefits in many ways.

Benefits for the employee:
Collective agreement IG Metall Public Service Definition
The salary is often higher than for employees who are paid according to a work contract. For example, according to the Federal Statistical Office, the wage of a skilled worker in the metal industry without collective bargaining amounted to 11.20 euros, while his colleague with collective bargaining earned an hourly wage of up to 20.65 euros.
The trade unions have a much greater power to influence workers when it comes to negotiating working conditions. In 2015, for example, the industrial union IG Metall created the entry into the part-time education program . It allows an employee to undergo further training part-time (or even full time off) with appropriate wage or salary reduction.
The salaries are transparent . Without a collective agreement, salaries are individually negotiated with each employee. There is thus the possibility that two employees perform identical work, but different pay will be paid. Unfair wages can significantly disrupt the company peace.
The short terms of wage and salary agreements allow participation in economic developments .
The working time of employees with collective agreements is often much lower : in the metal and electrical industry, for example, 35 hours are worked on average in West Germany (East Germany: 38 hours). On the other hand, there is a weekly average working time of 40 hours for non-tariff companies.
Frame and shell collective agreements usually have long terms. This protects against too rapid changes (and thus deterioration) of individual employment contracts.
The statutory leave entitles the employee to 20 days of recreational leave for a 5-day week. On the other hand, those who have a metal collective agreement will receive 30 days' leave on a 5-day week and half of their monthly salary on top of it as holiday pay .
Collective agreements by no means only benefit the employee.

Advantages for the employer:
Collective agreement IG Metall Public Service Definition
On the employer side, the benefit lies in the fact, for example, that the same competitive conditions apply: A collective agreement sets minimum standards that must not be undercut. This means that every collective bargaining enterprise in an industry or region employs its employees on equal terms and with equal pay. Collective agreements thus assume a cartel function.
Furthermore, the peace obligation referred to above applies for the duration of the collective agreement: employees are prohibited from going on strike, which in turn means planning and calculation security for the employers .
The employee can better calculate labor costs , since the framework conditions of employment contracts do not have to be negotiated individually each time with a new employee.
A collective bargaining agreement means a reduction in work for companies , as a time-consuming and costly effort for their own collective bargaining is eliminated.