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I am about to be employed in Germany under an American company which has a branch office in Germany.

Recently I got a contract from them that has side-by-side translations with German on the left and English on the right. I found a critical anomaly in the contract about currency format used to state my yearly salary. On both the sides german and english they have used american currency format

Example:

German: EUR 45,000 -----------> English: EUR 45,000

which is only correct for the English format, as in German it only mean 45 EUROS instead of 45000 :o

My questions are:

  1. Should I get it in the right format in German part?
  2. IN such cases in germany which language is the binding language when not explicitly stated in the contract?
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    You didn't write the contract, so it would be interpreted to you favour. No court would decide that you both meant €45 salary either. And finally, it's not correct in English, as the digits should be grouped in sets of three, never sets of four. – Nij Dec 16 '17 at 11:03
  • The digits are actually 3, sorry that was typo. Just corrected it. – Anirudh Dec 16 '17 at 11:08
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    I expect that an annual salary of €45 probably violates German labor law unless the contract specifies a few hours of work every year. – phoog Dec 16 '17 at 12:18
  • @phoog: It would. Minimum wage is ca. 9€/h. – Reinstate Monica - M. Schröder Dec 20 '17 at 10:18
  • € 45,00 could be understood as fourty five, but not € 45,000 since 1/1000 of an Euro is not a currency unit. Otherwise the German text is the binding legal text. – Mark Johnson Dec 12 '19 at 16:38
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Can you ask the company to add the spelled out of the number to the text? If this will make you more comfortable.

Also, I sometimes found an English text from European body that use the format of 12456 (no thousand mark at all) or 12 456 (use space).

  • I am not sure if your answer is law compliant. – Anirudh Dec 17 '17 at 7:15
  • That's what they did (has a spelled out for number) back in 2014 when I started working for a state university in Germany. English translation of the contract is provided by the HR for my convenience, but the binding one will always be the one in German language. (But this again can be different for your case, as the jurisdiction can be your HQ in one of the US States. Which jurisdiction should be used should be there in the contract.) – bact' Dec 17 '17 at 10:04
  • I'm sorry, it was 2004, not 2014. Also looking for "governing law and jurisdiction" clause and also "language" clause in the contract. – bact' Dec 17 '17 at 10:12
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Even though I am not a lawyer, I am pretty sure that any German employment court would decide to use a common sense interpretation of the contract and assume "EUR 45,000" means "Forty-five thousand Euro" not "Forty-five Euro".

  • Euro is a currency with two decimal places, not three
  • Mixing up English and German number formats is a common mistake
  • The English translation makes the intention clear (even if the contract says that the binding version is the German one)
  • Paying an employee 45 € per year for a regular employment would not only be extremely unreasonable, it would also break the German minimum wage law which mandates 9.19 € per hour.

In General, the German employment law is very employee-friendly. When in doubt, German employment courts tend to side with the employee, not the employer.

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