The German Federal Labor Court ruled on Wednesday that employers can permanently relocate their employees abroad if nothing to the contrary is agreed in the employment contract. A captain of the Ryanair subsidiary Malta Air went through the instances and was defeated.
Low-cost airlines in particular often open and close bases. The affected staff are often offered alternative jobs abroad or the transfer is ordered. However, if you don't want to move, you risk losing your job. A Malta Air captain who was to be transferred to a base outside of Germany did not want to accept this and went to the labor court.
The case went through the courts and was heard on Wednesday before the Federal Labor Court in Erfurt. The court ruled that the transfer abroad is legal unless expressly excluded in the employment contract. This also applies if the employee is to be deployed permanently outside of the Federal Republic of Germany. Furthermore, the judges determined that the employer's right to issue directives applies not only nationally, but also internationally and thus also at foreign locations.
The decision was also justified by the fact that the legal situation in Germany does not provide for this right to issue instructions to be limited to places of work in the Federal Republic of Germany. The complaining flight captain was stationed in Nuremberg, but this base was closed and subsequently reopened. The latter circumstance played no role in the decision of the Federal Labor Court. The pilot was supposed to be on duty in Bologna, against which he complained. The pilot was already defeated in the lower courts.
Although this is a case-by-case decision, it is likely to be of particular importance, especially in aviation. So far there has been no clear case law as to whether transfers abroad are permissible or not. In this industry in particular, which is internationally oriented, it is not uncommon for employees to be given the choice of doing their job outside of Germany in the future or leaving the company.