Our approach to shaping employee relations

Our contribution to the SDGs

We pursue dialog-oriented employee relations throughout the Group and engage in trust-based, constructive collaboration with employee representatives and unions. Our works councils, general works councils, and Group Works Council represent the interests of our employees at our Group in Germany.

Our partner representing the employees’ interests on a European level is the European Works Council (EWC). We also have executive staff representation committees and disabled employee representatives at the unit, company, and Group levels.

As the underlying laws and contracts vary from country to country, codetermination matters are managed locally together with trade unions and employee representatives. Group management is involved in all major issues as a matter of principle.

We have set Group-wide standards for managing employee relations. The standards have been formalized in our Guiding Principles and in our Group’s Employee Relations Policy (Employee Relations Policy). Comprehensive information about compliance with human rights at our Group is provided in the section human rights and on a separate page under “#TAKEPART sustainably.”

Dialog and cooperation with employee representatives

During the year under review, and in Germany, the company concluded 115 collective agreements with the union ver.di. By bringing collective bargaining rounds to a successful conclusion, we gave employees covered by collective agreements security in the COVID-19 crisis and sent a clear positive signal in economic terms. As part of harmonizing remuneration systems at the Group, we also agreed collective bargaining provisions for a global, uniform job architecture.

Responsible collective bargaining plays an important role and has a long tradition at our company. The percentage of employees covered by collective agreements is published in the non-financial statement in our annual report.

Constructive dialog
In 2021, we continued our constructive dialog with our works councils. As the underlying laws and contracts vary from country to country, codetermination matters are managed locally with trade unions and employees’ representatives. Group management is involved in all major issues as a matter of principle. Relevant information is available in the annual report.

Reporting against standards


Global Compact

  • Principle 3 (Uphold freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining)

Employee Relations Policy

The Group-wide “Employee Relations Policy (ERP)” sets out twelve core elements describing what Deutsche Telekom stands for worldwide as an employer. It outlines our commitment to trust-based collaboration with employee representatives, and it covers topics such as employee health, fair pay, and a ban on discrimination. The ERP is a framework that employees throughout the Group can refer to. Its aim is to enable them to contribute individually to the company’s goals and enhance shareholder value. The framework refers to our “Code of Human Rights & Social Principles” and explains which tools we use to ensure compliance.

In 2020, we revised and updated the ERP and had it approved by the Board of Management in December. The basic character and core content remained unchanged. In a move designed to address changes in the workplace and in our processes, we have added topics such as digitalization, freedom of speech and virtual working, however. The new version of the policy addresses the following topics:

  • Values
  • Recruitment and development
  • Responsible management of organizational change
  • Healthcare, safety, and sustainability
  • Remuneration and recognition
  • Work-life balance
  • Virtual working
  • Leadership
  • Diversity
  • Ban on discrimination
  • Commitment and communication
  • Collaboration with employee representatives

We monitor compliance with the ERP as part of a regular review process. If a review indicates that our voluntary commitments are not adequately implemented, we follow up on these indications and initiate corrective measures. We publish reviews of the reports of our national companies on our Group portal, under ”Responsible Employer”.

Reviewed: Employee relations at our national companies

What progress have the national companies been making in implementing our Employee Relations Policy? We examine this issue by means of special reviews. Two to three national companies are subject to such a review each year. They use the results of the review to further improve their relations with employees. The reviews also help us conduct a Group-wide assessment of employer/employee relations and any human rights risks involved in our business activities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2021 we were again able to review only one company. In this case, the company was the OTE Group in Greece. The results of the review are available on our website.

If necessary, we formulate additional measures, including a “Human Rights Impact Assessment and Engagement,” a process for estimating the actual and potential effects of business activities on human rights. The process also assesses the ability of the national company to prevent, mitigate, or eliminate these negative effects altogether. In 2021, due to COVID-19 pandemic we concentrated on our entrepreneurial due diligence obligations in our supply chain, and we carried out a “Human Rights Due Diligence” review on all processes and results to date. We are analyzing the relevant findings internally, and we will use them to develop additional, preparatory measures designed to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Supply Chain Act (Lieferkettengesetz) that will apply as of 2023. We will publish the results in detail on our website. Since 2019, we have also been holding local workshops at our national companies to provide training and raise awareness about human rights issues.

Fair pay and benefits

We offer our employees competitive, performance-based pay oriented to the relevant national labor market. Our remuneration policies are structured to guarantee equal pay for all employees; they do not discriminate.

With our “Global Compensation Guideline” for executives, our collective agreements and other collective bargaining regulations, we ensure a transparent and gender-neutral payment structure and remuneration for our employees at the Group. Under this guideline, pay is based on the degree of difficulty and complexity of the specific task, and not on the individual person. We thereby ensure that remuneration at the Deutsche Telekom Group is based on the type and scope of the work performed and the requirements of the relevant position, irrespective of diversity aspects such as gender, age, and nationality. In addition, we offer our employees additional compensation, such as contributions to the company pension scheme, and subsizidized share purchasing in the framework of our “Shares2you” program.

As part of our Group-wide employee survey, we regularly ascertain how satisfied our employees are with their pay.  We also conduct other surveys on specific topics and in specific units.

In 2018, we compiled a report on equal pay and equality for the first time in order to comply with the new legal requirements of the Act to Promote Transparency of Pay Structures. It is published every five years. The latest report is available as an annex to the 2017 management report.

Reporting against standards


Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

  • GRI 405-2 (Diversity and Equal Opportunity)

Global Compact

  • Principle 1 (Support and respect for internationally proclaimed human rights)

Salary development at Deutsche Telekom in Germany

In the 2020 collective bargaining round, a salary increase in two steps was agreed for roughly 60 000 employees covered by collective agreements at Telekom Deutschland, Group Headquarters, and Deutsche Telekom IT. The first increase took effect on July 1, 2020. The second followed on July 1, 2021. The increase covers a total of 5 percent in pay groups 1 to 5, 4.8 percent in pay group 6, and 4.6 percent in pay groups 7 to 10. The collective wage agreements have a term of 24 months. They may be terminated for the first time on March 31, 2022.

Two salary increases of 40 euros on July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021 respectively were agreed for apprentices and dual students. Subsistence allowance for apprentices not living with their parents increased by 20 euros to 270 euros.

Salary development and remuneration systems at T-Systems in Germany

In 2019, we began to gradually harmonize regulations for variable remuneration at T-Systems. As a result of the 2018 collective bargaining round, variable remuneration in non-sales was eliminated effective January 1, 2021. A switch was made to fixed remuneration. In addition, negotiations on general pay increases were due to take place at the beginning of 2021, after the termination of the collective wage agreements on December 31, 2020.

The 2021 collective-bargaining negotiations occurred during an important phase of T-Systems’ transformation, a phase in which we are establishing ourselves as a provider solely of IT services, including as a European provider of digital and multi-cloud services. In light of the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted T-Systems’ further development during the 2020 financial year, the negotiating parties agreed to undertake further wage negotiations in the fourth quarter of 2021.

For the 2021 financial year, the negotiating partners agreed to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing a one-time special payment of 1 000 euros to T-Systems’ employees subject to collective agreements. In addition, individual annual salaries at the companies Deutsche Telekom Security GmbH and T-Systems Multimedia Solutions GmbH will be increased by 2.0 percent with effect as of July 1, 2022. Also, T-Systems has agreed to continue refraining from imposing any compulsory redundancies until December 31, 2022. With this move, the social compatibility of the company’s transformation is assured for an additional year. At the same time, in 2022 T-Systems is increasing the number of junior staff offered permanent employment to a total of 200.

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