One click and sent: E-mails are an integral part of our everyday lives. But when it comes to important messages, you should make sure that they have arrived – this also applies to employment law.

In the event of a dispute, anyone who has sent an e-mail must also provide proof that it has reached the recipient. This is shown by a corresponding decision by the Cologne Regional Labor Court (Az.: 4 Sa 315/21), to which the Labor Law Working Group of the German Lawyers’ Association (DAV) refers.

The specific case: The plaintiff is a pilot and completed his training within the later defendant group. He had received a loan of 60,000 euros from a company for further training. It was stipulated in the contract that this did not have to be repaid if the employer did not offer the man a job within five years of completing the training. The agreement literally said: “If the borrower is not offered a cockpit job within five years of the end of the training course for operational reasons, in particular due to a lack of pilots, L will waive the repayment of the loan.”

An employment relationship was established. But there was a dispute about the day on which the offer should have been received. Supposedly on the last day of the deadline, at least the employer claimed, and deducted the money from the man’s salary in installments. However, he went to court. The mail only arrived three days after the deadline, he argued in court.

Both the labor court and the state labor court ruled in favor of the plaintiff. The man successfully opposed the deduction and was able to demand the withheld wages. According to the judgement, the company was not entitled not to pay out EUR 500.00 net of the remuneration claim.

According to the LAG, the employer could not prove that the plaintiff received the e-mail with the job offer on time. Neither the mere sending of the mail nor the fact that the e-mail sender did not receive an undeliverable message is sufficient for this. For example, the sender could have requested a read receipt.