The Role of Dismissal Protection in Personnel Management. from the Point of View of Personnel Managers**

Article excerpt

This article concerns itself with the effects of dismissal protection on personnel management behaviour within companies. The basis of the empirical analysis is 41 expert interviews conducted in 2006 as well as information available from a standardised survey of 750 personnel managers which was carried out in 2007. As a whole the effects of dismissal protection on personnel management are perceived by personnel managers to be insignificant. In general, employment law is considered to be a necessary framework which is, for the most part, non-obstructive yet at the same time non-supportive. Negative judgements relating to dismissal protection referred to its possible prohibitive effects (in the context of new-hirings), company-internal effects (in the context of confrontations within the company) and preventive effects (in the context of the dismissal of personnel). The prohibitive effect in the form of the non-hiring of new employees or the turning to other forms of employment rather than full time is rather weak. The decision to avoid hiring new employees is dependent upon the personnel manager's perception of employment law and not so much on an economical framework or the characteristics of the organisation. The role of dismissal protection within the company is also quite limited. In particular, having been employed by the company for a long time is considered very important for business management reasons. The judgements of those responsible for personnel are not to be explained with clear situational variables such as the business situation of the company or the development of the company's number of employees. There seems to be, rather, quite a lot of leeway regarding the understanding of Employment law and that this is dependent on the personnel managers' competence in this area as well as other factors. These findings are also relevant in light of the announced harmonisation with the European Labour Court (Green Paper labour law)

Key words: Dismissal Protection, Perception, Personnel Manager

1. The discussion of dismissal protection and employment law

This article concerns itself with the effects of dismissal protection on personnel management behaviour within companies. Germany's relatively high level of dismissal protection - compared internationally - is often named as a reason for the high unemployment rate. Possible effects are created particularly with regard to a prohibitive effect of dismissal protection: Is the hiring of new employees postponed or cancelled as a result of employment law? Do companies resort to other forms of employment to avoid the effects of dismissal protection? Which effects does the economic framework have on behaviour? In addition, we have addressed the effects of dismissal protection within the company: What role does dismissal protection play in the employment relationship? This article does not undertake an analysis of the preventive effect - in the sense of the postponing of employee termination or decision to not terminate an employee altogether. Because dismissal protection makes up an important part of employment law, the perceived functionality of employment law is subsequently discussed.

Germany's labour law is considered comparatively rigid in international comparison and a special importance is attached to dismissal protection. Among other things, severance pay and notice periods play a role in this. With the help of an international comparative indicator system, a higher-than-average rigidity is shown in Germany (cp. Pierre / Scarpetta 2004: 10ff).

The article is based upon two empirical investigations: The first being 41 expert interviews conducted with personnel managers in 2006 and, secondly, a standardised questionnaire of 750 personnel managers asking about the usage of employment law in their organization. The aim of the survey was to find out how various laws are actually applied within organisations and which attitudes personnel managers have regarding employment law and its sub-categories. …