After numerous employees of travel group TUIfly called in sick in recent days, the company was forced to cancel almost all flights scheduled for Friday, October 7, 2016 - some 9,700 passengers were affected by the cancelations. Many critics suspect a "silent protest" by employees against the planned merger of TUIfly with parts of Air Berlin to be behind the vast number of staff calling in sick. Specialist lawyer for employment law Dr. Johan-Michel Menke, LL.M., Partner at Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek, today explained in NDR//Aktuell on live television, what the company is able to do from a labor law perspective against the vast number of pilots and cabin staff calling in sick.
"In principle, sick notes for simulated illnesses may lead to termination of employees without notice. Incorrect sick notes are even punishable, so that an employer may claim damages from the employee. If the illness is confirmed by a physician, the company must be able to prove that the employee was not really sick. In practice, however, this is very difficult to achieve," Menke said. "If an employer still suspects that the sickness report is incorrect, the employee may be issued a warning based on reasonable suspicion or may be required to submit the sickness note from the first day of illness."
As to the question of why TUIfly employees are not simply officially going on strike against the planned merger with Air Berlin, Menke responded: "On the one hand, there is currently an obligation to maintain industrial peace. On the other hand, a strike is not possible in this case because there is no permissible strike objective.” According to Menke, independent flight attendant organization UFO could only call for a strike, for example, for purposes of a pay increase, but not to prevent TUIfly from merging with another company.
The NDR//Aktuell broadcast will be available in NDR's Mediathek media library for one week.