What is an immediate employer

What does “a collective agreement apply immediately and compulsorily” (Section 4 of the Collective Agreement Act)?
With the terms "the legal norms of the collective agreement ... apply immediately and compulsorily", Paragraph 4 of the Collective Agreement Act (TVG) regulates the functioning of collective agreements in paragraphs 1 and 2. In the way they work, collective agreements are similar to that of laws.

“Immediately” means that a collective agreement applies directly to those bound by collective bargaining. It does not have to be reconfirmed between the parties entering into an employment contract. Even if the employment contract parties do not make any arrangements, the collective agreement must be fulfilled by them. Even ignorance of a collective agreement does not change that. The content of the collective agreement may also not be changed, converted or replaced. The regulation must be applied as it is in the collective agreement. The immediate effect also applies if something worse was agreed in the employment contract. In such a case, the regulation from the employment contract becomes ineffective. For example, an employee is entitled to the collective wage, even if he has agreed a lower wage with the employer in the employment contract, since the collective agreement is effective in the employment relationship. The collective agreement is thus an independent legal basis that applies directly to the employment relationship and to which the employee can refer directly.

“Mandatory” means that the provisions of the collective agreement can supersede other agreements or render them ineffective. Compared to individual contractual agreements, they are the more valuable source of law. There are two exceptions to the principle of mandatory application of the collective agreement, which are regulated in Section 4 (3) TVG. On the one hand, this is when the collective agreement itself allows for a deviation. The mandatory regulation of the collective agreement can then be deviated from within the permitted framework. The second exception is the so-called favorability principle. Accordingly, the mandatory effect of the collective agreement norms can be deviated from if the deviating regulation is in favor of the employee. This regulation is intended to prevent collective agreements from having an effect against employees by preventing better regulations for employees.

Together, the two operating principles mean that the protection that collective agreements are intended to offer employees can take effect. The essence of collective agreements is to compensate for the weak negotiating position of the individual employees when negotiating the employment contract. Therefore, the provisions of the collective agreement must not be negotiable when the employment contract is concluded.

The protective effect is of great importance for employees, it ensures that collective bargaining norms apply immediately and compulsorily, with the only exception that deviations can only be made in favor of the employees.