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Our approach to 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. The works councils, central 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 employees’ representatives. Group management is involved in all major issues as a matter of principle. 

We have set Group-wide standards for managing employee relations. These were formalized in our Guiding Principles and our Group’s Employee Relations Policy. You can find comprehensive information about conduct in relation to human rights at our Group in the Human rights section.

Employee Relations Policy

The Employee Relations Policy, which has been rolled out throughout the Group, defines the core elements of Deutsche Telekom's human resources policy and describes what we stand for in our relationships to our employees around the globe. Our Employee Relations Policy addresses the following topics:

  • Employee development
  • Handling change responsibly
  • Healthcare and sustainability
  • Fair pay
  • Achieving a good work-life balance
  • Leadership
  • Diversity
  • Ban on discrimination
  • Communication
  • Collaboration with employee representatives

We constantly monitor our Employee Relations Policy. Deutsche Telekom publishes reviews on the reports of our national companies on our Group portal under “Responsible Employer”.


Reviewed: Employee relations at our national companies

What progress have our 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 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.

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 organization to prevent, mitigate, or eliminate these effects altogether. Since 2019, we have been holding local workshops to provide training on and raise awareness of human rights issues. In 2019, we conducted such an assessment at T-Systems India. In the reporting period, we also conducted employee relations policy reviews at T-Mobile Poland and Deutsche Telekom Außendienst GmbH. We publish the detailed results on our website.

Flexible working models for a wide range of needs at Deutsche Telekom in Germany

Our contribution to the SDGs

Designing work so that it is flexible and meets individual needs makes it easier for employees to achieve a good work-life balance, and prevent stress and the feeling of being overworked. That is why we encourage flexible working models. Our offer ranges from flexitime and part-time work to lifetime work accounts.

Promoting part-time work 
Deutsche Telekom supports the establishment of part-time jobs and guarantees employees the possibility to return to their original working hours. In Germany, 13 percent of employees under collective agreements and 18.5 percent of civil servants took advantage of part-time models (as at December 31, 2019). In addition, a total of 29 executives throughout Germany were working part-time (as at December 31, 2019). Detailed information about our numerous part-time regulations is available here.

Mobile working
Mobile working is the normal state of affairs for us. The first mobile working collective agreement arranged between Deutsche Telekom and ver.di has been in effect since 2017. Among other things, it includes rules regarding telecommuting and mobile working.

Part-time training for single parents
Deutsche Telekom has been offering single mothers or fathers up to the age of 25 the opportunity to complete a part-time training program or cooperative course of study since 2011 in collaboration with the German Federal Employment Agency.

Parental leave network
The “Stay in contacT” parental leave network enables employees to stay in touch with the company during parental leave and exchange information about job-related topics.

Lifetime work accounts and leave of absence
For the implementation of individual life plans, the majority of employees at Deutsche Telekom can set up a specialsavings account. Gross salary conversions or the conversion of up to 80 overtime hours per year can be saved on these lifetime work accounts. In total, we have set up 12,263 accounts for employees and 724 accounts for civil servants (as of December 31, 2019). The savings can be used for a sabbatical, for an earlier exit from working life or for an increase in part-time salary. For those without savings there is also the option for leave of absence without pay. T-Systems employees can also release long-term time savings that result from (project-related) overtime.

Leave of absence for personal reasons
In case of special reasons, employees have the option of being released from their work at short notice after consultationand approval by their manager. For instance, this is an option when caring for a relative or after the statutory parental leave. In the individually agreed period, employees are exempt from performing their work and payment of the remuneration is suspended. All other aspects of the employment relationship remain unaffected.

Time-off for education
Time-off for education is based on the current offer of leave of absence without pay and makes it possible for employees to take up to four years off for a degree course or a doctorate. The employment contract is put on hold during this time and the employee does not receive any pay. Civil servants employed at the company can also take advantage of this offer in the form of a "leave of absence without pay for reasons of private interest." This time does not apply to their pension and no remuneration is paid.

The 80/20 model
Since 2017, we have been using the 80/20 model to give our employees the opportunity to spend up to 20 percent of their working time on projects outside of their usual remit. This allows them to work with teams from other departments. Use of the model is voluntary and is tied to a specific Group project.

Phased retirement
We offer all Group employees over the age of 54 the option of phased retirement. Separate regulations apply to employees and to civil servants. There are two options for the phased retirement: the block model or the part-time model. During the reporting year, a total of 1,634 phased retirement contracts were concluded with employees both covered and not covered by collective agreements. Among civil servants there were 638 such contracts (as at December 31, 2019). 

Underlying regulations
These are based on the laws and regulations applicable in the individual countries. Working hours at Deutsche Telekom in Germany are governed by collective agreements and works agreements. We document the daily working hours of our employees covered by collective agreements by means of electronic time recording in work time accounts. This guarantees compliance with legal and company regulations; for example, it makes sure that the weekly working hours for a specific flexitime balancing period are complied with. At a large corporation like Deutsche Telekom, regulations are diverse and cannot be fully specified for all the Group companies.


Achieving a good work-life balance at Deutsche Telekom in Germany

We offer our employees attractive offers to help them achieve a better work-life balance. Achieving this requires more flexible work models, family-friendly options, effective health promotion and not least, a sustainable anchoring of work-life balance in the corporate culture:

  • Childcare offers: At a number of sites with large numbers of employees, Deutsche Telekom provides childcare facilities, holiday childcare programs, and parent-and-child offices. 
  • Free advisory and referral services: Through our cooperation partner “awo lifebalance” and an online service, we support our employees with childcare (including emergency care), care for relatives, and household services. 
  • Employee networks: Through various networks, such as the “Fathers' Network” or “Stay in contacT”, we provide information for reconciling work and family life, as well as contacts and discussion forums.
  • Family fund: We support employee projects that help them improve their work-life balance. 
  • Social fund: We provide fast financial aid to employees who find themselves in financial difficulties through no fault of their own. We also offer subsidies for recreational activities for severely disabled children. 
  • Welfare service: We provide support for children who have lost one or both parents, are committed to employees in crisis situations and students from low-income families, and promote leisure activities for senior citizens. 
  • Recreation service: Employees can take advantage of low-cost family holidays, such as at one of our 18 holiday resorts.

Our complete range of offers for a better work-life balance can be found at

Digital collaboration KPI

The key to effective and transnational cooperation is simple, fast and virtual communication. Thus, the volume of online conference minutes has continued to grow steadily in 2019.

Dialog and cooperation with employee representatives

We negotiated and adopted over 150 agreements in 2019 through constructive dialog with our works councils. 

Two key transformation projects we conducted in 2019 in close coordination with the works councils were the organizational measures “Technology & Innovation 2018” and “T-Systems Transformation”. 

In addition, 85 collective agreements were concluded with the union ver.di during the year. Apart from the collective bargaining agreements, the focus in 2019 was on concluding arrangements on harmonizing the Group’s remuneration systems as far as possible. 

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
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. Information is available in the 2019 Annual Report.

Fair pay and benefits

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

Executive compensation at Deutsche Telekom is based on our Group-wide Global Compensation Guideline. We also offer our employees additional benefits such as our company pension scheme.

As part of our Group-wide employee survey, we regularly ascertain how satisfied our employees are with their pay and 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. You can find the latest report as an annex to the 2017 management report.

Salary development at Deutsche Telekom in Germany

In the 2018 collective bargaining round, the salaries of roughly 60,000 employees covered by collective agreements at Deutsche Telekom AG and in the Germany operating segment were raised in two stages by a total of 5.2 percent for employees in the lower pay groups and 4.8 percent for employees in the higher pay groups. The second salary increase took effect on May 1, 2019. The duration of collective wage agreements is mostly 26 months; they may be terminated for the first time at March 31, 2020.
For the T-Systems segment, salaries rose in the first stage from January 1, 2019 by 3.0 percent in the lower pay groups and by 2.0 percent in the higher pay groups. A further salary increase of 2.5 percent will follow on January 1, 2020 for all T-Systems employees covered by collective agreements. The collective agreement is valid for a total of 33 months (Sunday, April 1, 2018 to Thursday, December 31, 2020).

The salaries of trainees and cooperative degree students were raised by 30 euros in May 2019. Subsistence allowance for apprentices not living with their parents increased by 20 euros to €250.

Harmonization of remuneration systems
Together with the trade union, we succeeded in harmonizing the remuneration systems in Germany as far as possible from 2018. For instance, non-sales was converted to a fixed annual salary effective January 1, 2019, eliminating variable remuneration. In addition, we achieved the goal of introducing global, uniform job descriptions from 2020, which will initially be used in Germany. This will help gradually establish new, market-oriented, and future-proof job descriptions throughout the Group.

Salary development and remuneration systems at T-Systems in Germany

In the course of the 2018 collective bargaining round, the salaries of roughly 20,000 employees covered by the collective agreement were raised in two stages by a total of 5.5 percent for the lower pay groups and 4.5 percent for the higher pay groups. After the first increase on January 1, 2019, the second increase took place on January 1, 2020. The new collective wage agreement has a term of 33 months and will expire on December 31, 2020.

In 2019, we began to gradually harmonize regulations for variable remuneration at T-Systems as well. Non-sales will also be converted to a fixed annual salary in 2021.