The German Federal Labour Court has ruled an employee was entitled to mileage reimbursement for driving to his new place of work when his relocation to another branch was declared invalid.
The relocation of employees is a perennial issue. Even though much has been written in case law and literature about the requirements for a legally effective relocation, the question often arises as to what risks an employer bears if it relocates an employee to another position ineffectively. The Federal Labour Court recently had to decide a case in which an employee asserted claims for damages against his employer due to an invalid geographic relocation (BAG, ruling dated November 28, 2019 - 8 AZR 125/18, press release no. 42/19).
The plaintiff has been employed by the defendant for several years as a master metalworker and initially worked at the defendant's place of business in Hesse. From November 2014, the defendant transferred the employee 'for at least two years, possibly longer' to its branch office in Saxony. The plaintiff complied with the relocation, but at the same time took legal action against it. The Hesse Regional Labour Court declared the relocation was not legally enforceable in May 2016, but the plaintiff nevertheless continued to work in Saxony from June 2016 to September 2016 in accordance with the relocation.
At that time, his main place of residence continued to be in Hesse and he commuted the distance to his 'new' place of work in Saxony weekly with his private car. The employee then sued, among other things, for reimbursement of travel expenses for the journeys between June 2016 and September 2016. The Labour Court's affirmative ruling was then partially modified by the competent Regional Labour Court and the plaintiff was only awarded travel expenses (in accordance with the Separation Allowance Ordinance 'TGV') for travel by public transport every two weeks. The employee's appeal was successful and the Federal Labour Court ruled that his claim for travel expenses was based on the Judicial Remuneration and Compensation Act ('Justizvergütungs- und -entschädigungsgesetz', or 'JVEG') and that he was therefore entitled to a claim for each kilometre driven with his private car in of EUR 0.30 per kilometre.
What costs must the employer bear when a relocation is declared ineffective?
The plaintiff claimed costs for journeys he had undertaken after a court had already ruled that the relocation from Hesse to Saxony was invalid. At...