The German labour market has had a shortage of skilled workers in recent years and this has led to a lot of employers to utilize professional ‘headhunters’ that appoint or recruit future top executives. Let us understand the headhunting of Germany in this article and analyze some legal boundaries and risks for recruiting or headhunting professionals in the German workplace.
German Employment Law Overview
As a general guideline, according to German law, headhunters and in-house recruiters can poach employees. This is considered a very crucial part of free competition. It is generally not accepted for headhunters to make personal visits to the existing employer’s business place or premises.
Detailed View Of The Law
With respect to telephone calls at the workplace, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) has actually established and also confirmed the below guidelines in the recent few years:
A headhunter or recruiter from any small or big Top Executive Search Agency Germany is allowed under German law to make initial contact through telephone if he or she:
- Concisely introduces herself or himself at the start of the call
- Elaborates on the purpose of the call
- Cross checks with the employee if he or she is in fact interested in the contact
- If the above needs are fulfilled, the headhunter might continue with the call and also describe the details of the position briefly
- Any further contact needs to be outside of the workplace
What Is Considered Illegal In Headhunting In Germany?
Any recruitment call which goes beyond the above is illegal per German law. This means it would be illegal to ask about details of the CV during this initial call or other information regarding the candidate’s potential career ambitions. Moreover, it should also be noted that any particular call that is made either to the employee’s landline at work or to the employee’s mobile phone that exceeds a ‘few minutes’ will bear evidence that the call is effectively illegal.
Apart from all these elaborate details, calls that are made by the headhunter to the employee’s personal mobile phone (even if during working hours) are far less critical because they do not use the facilities that the employer has put in place. On the other hand, the legality of recruiting or headhunting in Germany through business e-mail has not actually been considered by the German courts. Also, legal assumptions or individual perceptions regarding this area are practically non-existent.
Important Points For Headhunters
The headhunter should refrain from sending an email along with a link to the detailed information regarding the relevant position to the business email of a candidate. Though it is a common perception that an email is far less intrusive than a telephone call, it has not been clarified by German courts whether this is acceptable or not. Besides, it is simply not good form to do this since it is unknown to the headhunter in Germany whether the email account of the candidate is perhaps being read by someone else within the organization or not.
Personal Email or messages through social media will not give rise to any legal risks for recruiting or headhunting. This is because it will not have any effect on the employer’s IT system. If you are not using a local German headhunter (who is familiar with these rules of course), it is advisable for employers to educate their headhunters and make sure they abide by the law guidelines if they are recruiting in Germany.