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How do labour courts work?

The labour court deals with disputes relating to labour law. They are usually disputes between employers and employees or between parties to collective agreements. The labour court is a civil court with special jurisdiction.

Legal proceedings before the labour court are initiated by filing a legal action with the competent labour court. Anyone can file the legal action; however, it is usually done by a lawyer. A legal action is a motion stating who demands what from whom. When the legal action is filed, it is sent to the other party (the defendant), and the labour court sets a date for the hearing, the conciliation hearing. A conciliation hearing is attended by a judge and the plaintiff, the defendant and their lawyers. The defendant must respond to the legal action. An attempt is made to reach an amicable agreement, the result of which is called a settlement.

If the parties cannot agree, the case is heard by a chamber. The court asks both parties to submit their supporting arguments for the legal action as well as the response before the chamber hearing. At a chamber hearing, the judge of the conciliation hearing is present again, as are two other honorary judges.

The competent labour court is the court of the employee’s place of work. If a judgement has been handed down in the initial tribunal, an appeal can still be lodged with the Regional Labour Court. In contrast to the initial tribunal, it is mandatory to hire a lawyer for the Regional Labour Court. In theory, a legal dispute can also go as far as the Federal Labour Court if one party appeals the ruling of the Regional Labour Court.