Going overboard at the weekend: that may not always be good for your career. But when does behavior after work have consequences under labor law?
Whether it's weird hobbies, unfavorable party videos on the Internet or extended party tours at the weekend: Employees usually don't have to fear any consequences under employment law.
After all, how they spend their free time is basically up to them. This is pointed out by specialist lawyer for labor law Prof. Michael Fuhlrott from the Association of German Labor Lawyers (VDAA). The employee does not owe an "honest" or "impeccable" lifestyle. And in his private life, the employer should not "regulate" with operational requirements.
This applies even if employees commit crimes in their free time. "In principle, no consequences may follow from this for the employment relationship, even if the behavior can of course have criminal consequences," said the labor lawyer. However, with one exception: If there are effects on the employment relationship, the employer can act.
A bus driver who drives a car drunk in her free time, loses her driver's license and is then no longer able to work is also threatened with dismissal (Landesarbeitsgericht Schleswig-Holstein, Az.: 5 Sa 27/14), as is a manager who sexually harassed colleagues at the company Christmas party (Berlin Labor Court, Az.: 28 BV 17992/11).
Even a railway conductor who makes inciting statements on social media with a photo in service uniform or by naming his employer in the profile risks his job (Saxon State Labor Court, Az.: 1 Sa 515/17).
But what does it look like when you publicly criticize the employer? In principle, the employee is also entitled to freedom of expression in the employment relationship. "After that, even public criticism of the employer is allowed," says Fuhlrott. But this must be done in moderation. And the duty of loyalty increases with the position: an authorized signatory is more obliged to be considerate than the porter.