Time limitation of an employment ineffective
The ArbG Berlin ruled that a fixed-term employment contract signed by both parties only in electronic form did not meet the formal requirements for an effective agreement of a fixed term and therefore the employment contract was concluded for an indefinite period.
Pursuant to section 14(4) of the Part-Time Working and Fixed-Term Employment Act, the fixed-term employment contract must be in writing in order to be effective. In the case underlying the decision, the employee and the employer concluded a fixed-term employment contract as a mechatronics technician not by signing the contract with his own name, but by using an electronic signature.
The ArbG Berlin ruled that at any rate the form of signature used here did not satisfy the requirement of written form. Even if one were to assume that a qualified electronic signature within the meaning of section 126a of the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch) is sufficient for the effective agreement of a fixed term, there is no such signature in this case. A qualified electronic signature requires certification of the system used pursuant to Article 30 of Regulation (EU) of 23 July 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market. The system used did not offer such certification by the competent Federal Network Agency pursuant to section 17 of the Trust Services Act. Accordingly, the agreement of the time limit was invalid for lack of compliance with the written form, and the employment contract was deemed to be concluded for an indefinite period of time pursuant to section 16 of the Part-Time Work and Time Limitation Act.
The decision can be appealed to the Berlin-Brandenburg Regional Labour Court.
Source: Press release of the Regional Labour Court Berlin-Brandenburg No. 43/2021 of 26.10.2021
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