Can employees voluntarily waive their salary?

Berlin (dpa / tmn) – Due to the corona pandemic, many businesses are in difficulty. Some employees want to accommodate their employer – and voluntarily forgo part of their salary. Is it possible?

Basically yes, says Peter Meyer, an employment lawyer in Berlin. However, as is almost always the case in employment law, there would also be a “but”. If a collective agreement applies to the employment relationship, employees cannot simply forgo part of their salary. “The parties to the collective agreement, that is to say the employers’ association and the union, should come to an agreement beforehand,” explains Meyer.

In the absence of a collective agreement, employers and employees can, for example, agree that the employee will only receive an hourly wage of 17 euros instead of 18 euros. In companies with a works council, they also have a say in decisions to reduce the applicable remuneration.

According to the specialist lawyer, it would not be permissible for the newly agreed remuneration to be lower than the minimum wage. “But that’s a pretty theoretical case. The parties are more likely to agree that, say, vacation pay or the 13th salary will be waived.”

A complete waiver of wages, even if one continues to work, is not allowed, according to Meyer. After all, the employer must also pay social security contributions for every hour worked.

Personal data: Peter Meyer is a lawyer specializing in employment law and a member of the executive committee of the working group on labor law of the German Association of Lawyers (DAV).

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