Employment Law10.12.2021 Newsletter

Coalition agreement & labour law: company integration management

On 24 November 2021, the new coalition agreement of the forthcoming government of SPD, Bündnis90/Die Grünen and FDP was published. In the form of a short series of posts over the next few days, we are presenting you with the statements contained in the coalition agreement on labour law and the concrete effects of the plans. Today’s topic: company integration management [Betriebliches Eingliederungsmanagement - BEM]

The statements

"We are strengthening company integration management." (Coalition agreement between SPD, Bündnis90/Die Grünen and FDP, p. 72)

“We want to establish company integration management more firmly as an instrument for employers and employees, aiming to make it compulsory throughout the country according to uniform quality standards (e.g. the "Hamburg model"). In the process, we will also be drawing on the expertise of representatives of severely disabled persons" (Coalition agreement between SPD, Bündnis90/Die Grünen and FDP, p. 79)

The effects

The very general statement on strengthening company integration management on p. 72 in the section "Work/Occupational Health and Safety" is nothing new. It can be found almost word for word in the coalition agreements for the two previous legislative periods. Nevertheless, since its entry into force in 2004, not too many changes have been made to the relevant provision of § 167 (2) German Social Code Book IX [Sozialgesetzbuch IX - SGB IX].

This is not going to be repeated, according to the more detailed information contained on p. 79 in the section "Welfare State, Old-Age Pension, Basic Income/Inclusion". In future, company integration management will be standardised according to certain binding quality standards. In the absence of more detailed legal provisions, company integration management is currently understood as a non-formalised search process, the course and results of which are open. It is unclear what quality standards are to apply in the future. The reference to the "Hamburg model", which colloquially means gradual reintegration, is of no help. Gradual reintegration is already regulated by law and is known to be just one of numerous possible measures within the framework of company integration management.

More concrete conclusions can be drawn, however, from the will of the governing parties to make the system compulsory throughout the country. To date, employers do not have to fear any consequences if they do not carry out company integration management measures contrary to § 167 (2) SGB IX. Employees have no legal claim to company integration management. There is no threat of fines. Only illness-related dismissals might be more difficult. Particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises, company integration management measures are often not implemented. Here, it is expected that the “traffic light” coalition will increase the pressure on employers and incorporate an enforceable legal claim of employees into the law.

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