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Act responsibly. Enable sustainability.

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. 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 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. These were formalized in our Guiding Principles and our Group’s Employee Relations Policy. The Employee Relations Policy was extensively revised in the reporting year. You can find comprehensive information about compliance with human rights at our Group in the human rights section and on a separate topic page.

Updated Employee Relations Policy

The Group-wide Employee Relations Policy (ERP) sets out 12 core elements describing what Deutsche Telekom stands for worldwide as an employer. It outlines our commitment to trust-based collaboration with employee representatives as well as topics such as employee health, fair pay, or 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. Because the working world and our processes have changed since 2011, however, we have added topics such as digitalization, freedom of opinion, and virtual working. 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 the review indicates that our voluntary commitments are not adequately implemented, we follow up on these indications and initiate corrective measures. We publish 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. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was only possible to review one company in 2020: Crnogorski Telekom in Montenegro. The result can be found online.

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 negative effects altogether. In this connection, we carried out a comprehensive human rights gap assessment at Group headquarters in 2020. The findings will be evaluated internally and used for additional measures. We are publishing the detailed results on our website. Since 2019, we have also been holding local workshops at our national companies to provide training on and raise awareness of human rights issues.

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 symptoms of overwork. That is why we encourage flexible working models. Our offer in Germany ranges from flexitime and part time to lifetime work accounts. This paid off especially in 2020: Our employees were able to structure their working hours flexibly and adapt to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Promoting part-time work
We support the establishment of part-time jobs and guarantee employees in Germany the possibility to return to their original working hours. 13.5 percent of employees covered by collective agreements and 18.6 percent of civil servants took advantage of part-time models (as at December 31, 2020). In addition, a total of 39 executives were working part-time (as at December 31, 2020). Detailed information about our numerous part-time regulations in Germany is available here.

Mobile working
Mobile working is established at Deutsche Telekom. Since 2016, mobile working has also been part of our general collective agreement on mobile working with ver.di. Among other things, it includes rules regarding working from home and mobile working. Mobile working is also possible in many of our national companies.

Part-time training for single parents
Since 2011, we have been working with the German Federal Employment Agency to address single mothers or fathers: We offer them the opportunity to complete a part-time vocational training program or a dual study program.

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
The majority of employees in Germany can set up a long-term work-time account. This account can be used to accumulate work-time credit by means of deferred compensation or by saving up to 80 overtime hours per year, thus enabling the account holder to implement individual life plans. These work-time accounts are referred to as lifetime work accounts. In total, we have set up 13,190 accounts for employees and 652 accounts for civil servants (as of December 31, 2020). The credit can be used for a sabbatical, earlier retirement, or a higher part-time salary. For those without credit there is also the option to take unpaid leave. T-Systems employees can also use long-term work-time credit resulting from (project-related) overtime.

Leave of absence for personal reasons
Employees have the option of requesting leave of absence at short notice for special reasons after consultation and approval by their manager. For instance, this is an option when caring for a relative or for the time 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 unpaid leave and makes it possible for employees in Germany 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 “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 parts 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 employees over the age of 54 the option of phased retirement. This offer is not just for Germany but can be used across the Group by our employees. Separate regulations apply to employees and to civil servants. There are two options for phased retirement: the block model or the part-time model. During the reporting year, a total of 1,536 phased retirement contracts were concluded with employees both covered and not covered by collective agreements. Among civil servants there were 677 such contracts (as at December 31, 2020).

Underlying regulations
These working time models 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 MyPortal or via the employee app. 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.

Reporting against standards


Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

  • GRI 404-2 (Training and Education)

Achieving a good work-life balance at Deutsche Telekom

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

  • Childcare offers: At a number of sites with large numbers of employees, we provide 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, for example at one of our 18 holiday resorts.

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

Work-life balance is also promoted at our national companies. In addition to mobile working and flexitime, we offer individual models and measures: In Croatia, the SmartWork model was implemented in June 2020, allowing all employees to organize their working environment and conditions to suit their individual needs. In Hungary, we are also committed to maintaining a healthy work-life balance by reducing overtime or promoting flexible working hours. The most suitable working models are selected together with the employees.

In Austria, there are company childcare facilities and holiday childcare programs for the employees’ children. The OTE Group in Greece offers summer camps with sports, entertainment and creative activities for children during the holidays. At our Croatian national company, it is a tradition for employees to bring their children to work on a special day and show them around their workplace. In addition, all first grade parents get the day off on their children’s first day of school so they can accompany them as they start this new stage in their lives. Employees in Singapore can go home early on one Friday in the month, and use this “Eat with Family Day” to have dinner with the family and spend more time with them.

There are also a variety of initiatives to promote health, such as online yoga classes and back health care in Spain or fitness activities as part of the “Healthy me” program in Romania. In 2020, we expanded our physical and mental health service offerings to give our employees special support during the coronavirus pandemic. In South Africa, for example, we launched the “We care” program aimed at making it easier for employees to deal with the new situation and mobile working. In Greece, we also set up a medical hotline to answer questions related to Covid-19, and created special mental and emotional counseling services.

Digital collaboration KPI

The key to effective and transnational cooperation is simple, fast and virtual communication. Consequently, it is not surprising that in the pandemic year 2020, the volume of online conferences more than doubled (1.79 billion).

Our "Chat & Messenger"-service "Jabber" was completely replaced by "WebEx Teams" last year. Here we can report 170,000 registered users.

Dialog and cooperation with employee representatives

We negotiated and adopted over 90 agreements in 2020 through constructive dialog with our works councils.

The organizational measures “PVG 2020” and DT@ITMotion, and the continuation of “T-Systems Transformation” were key transformation projects we conducted in 2020 in close coordination with the works councils.

In addition, 75 collective agreements were concluded with the union ver.di during the reporting year. With the conclusion of the collective bargaining rounds, we gave employees employees covered by collective agreements security in the coronavirus 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
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 2020 annual report.

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 men and women and 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 respective job, irrespective of gender, age and nationality. 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.

Reporting against standards


Global Compact

  • Principle 1 (Support and respect for internationally proclaimed human rights)
  • Principle 3 (Uphold freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining)

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 Deutsche Telekom AG in the Germany segment img and at Deutsche Telekom IT GmbH. The first increase took effect on July 1, 2020. The second will follow on July 1, 2021. The increase covers a total of 5.0 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.

Harmonization of remuneration systems
As part of harmonizing remuneration systems at the Group, we agreed a uniform global job architecture with the employee representatives. During the harmonization process, all employees covered and not covered by collective agreements at Deutsche Telekom AG and Deutsche Telekom Service Europe SE were converted to the new job architecture in 2020. By introducing uniform requirements and job descriptions, it was possible to reduce the number of functions from more than 5,500 previously to well below 1,000. The job architecture thus improves the comparability of jobs and creates transparency with regard to the professional development opportunities for all employees at the Group. The job architecture will also be introduced at other companies in Germany in 2021.

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. 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.