When to return a Company Car?

The Labor Court Stuttgart decided on February 25, 2009 (re 20 Ca 1933/08) on the dispute between employer and employee when an employer is entitled to have the official car, for which private use was granted.


The employee was promised a company car, which could also be used privately, in the labor contract. The employee was on sick-leave from 03.03. until December 15, 2008. Due to the termination of the leasing contract for the car, the employer wanted it back by November 13, 2008. The employee signaled his wish to comply but reserved his right for damages. The employer afterwards refused to pay damages.

The employee wanted to collect damages for the missed opportunity to use the car during the period of November 12, to December 12, 2008 amounting to € 327.60. He was of the opinion that even when on paid sick leave, he was still entitled to the private use of the car. He argued that good faith (§242 BGB) would give grounds weight to his opinion because he was 100% disabled and therefore dependant on the car.

The private use of the car belongs to the employee's salary, so the court held, and therefore ends with his illness after six weeks - just as does as the monetary part of his salary. This being so, the employer has all rights to demand the car back after the sick leave period and the case was dismissed. The employee is not entitled to damages because he is not fulfilling his part of the labor contract - his work. The grounds for keeping the car during sick leave is §3 I EFZG. This provision obligates the employer to continue paying the salary for up to six weeks. The employee receives the car as his salary in kind or salary sacrifice and cannot at the same time demand the use of the car in natura.

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