The case of Wolfgang Lange v Georg
Schnemann has shown that there is a general obligation on employers to
inform their employees if there is a requirement to work overtime.
This obligation, of course, extends to all the essential elements of
the employment contract but if the nature of the job requires
employees to work overtime as and when required then this must be made
clear in the conditions of employment.
Mr Lange was a lathe operator whose
contract specified a 40-hour week but there was no mention of overtime
or a requirement to work such additional hours. When he was asked to
work overtime in order to fulfil a customer order, he refused and was
dismissed for doing so. At the hearing, each party gave conflicting
evidence as to what Mr Lange agreed when he was recruited. As such,
the German court had to decide whether or not he was in breach of his
contractual terms. It was eventually ruled that essential terms must
be in writing so in this case Mr Lange won his case.
This case highlights the need for
correctly drafted conditions of employment that set out all the
essential terms of the employment contract.
The AP Partnership will advise on and
produce such documents as part of their Employment Law Service to