Checklist "Agile working methods"

Agile working methods are becoming increasingly important. Initially established in the field of software development, they enable companies to react flexibly to market changes and customer requirements by transitioning from line organizations to network organizations.

In the pure form of an agile network organization, there are no different hierarchical levels below the level of the legal representative body of the company. Hierarchical reporting lines and specialist departments are replaced by flexibly composed teams (so-called "squads"). These teams carry out their tasks independently and are put together according to the required competence of the project, if necessary, even with external team members from other companies, enterprises or even the customer.

The following keywords provide an overview of the most important topics:

I. Introduction and implementation

When introducing and implementing agile working methods, particular attention should be paid to: 

  • Establishment and re-establishment of agile teams (right of direction/change notice/transfer).

  • Legally secure participation of external parties (service contract/work contract/ employee leasing/ foreign assignment)

  • Waiver by the employer of the right to issue instructions

  • Qualification and further training of employees

  • Adaptation of space concepts (open space, desk sharing)

  • Flexibilization of working hours

II. Co-determination rights of the works council

The implementation of agile working methods and the associated conversion to agile organizational structures may, depending on the individual case, particularly affect the following participation and co-determination rights of the works council:

  • Information and consultation rights (§ 80, § 90, § 106 BetrVG)

  • Co-determination in personnel matters (§ 99 BetrVG)

  • Co-determination in social matters (§ 87 BetrVG)

  • Participation in personnel planning and vocational training (§§ 92 ff., 96 ff. BetrVG)

  • Co-determination in economic matters (§§ 111 ff. BetrVG)

III. "Risks" of agile working methods

Not for all companies is the introduction of a particular method suitable. Such agile working methods can harbor "risks" such as:

  • Loss of employee status of team members due to waiver of the right to issue instructions

  • Bogus self-employment or covert employee leasing when external experts are integrated into the "squads"

  • Violations of working hours

  • Social security and tax risks, especially in the case of international "squads”

IV. What else needs to be considered:

Costly mistakes should be avoided when introducing and implementing such agile working methods. Which regulations are right for the specific company must be decided individually. Precisely in view of the possible consequential problems, it is advisable to obtain tailored advice prior to introduction.

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