Right of direction

Also known as: Right to give instructions, authority to give instructions

In Germany, the term right of direction refers to the right of an employer to issue instructions to an employee on the basis of a jointly concluded employment contract.

Definition / explanation

In principle, an employee is obliged to perform work vis-à-vis his employer as part of an employment contract. Usually, however, an employment contract only regulates the type and scope of the work to be performed.

However, details relating to the work to be performed are rarely included in an employment contract. For the purpose of a concrete determination of the work owed, the employer has a right of direction, which is also referred to as the right to manage or give instructions.

The following applies here: The less work to be performed is regulated in an employment contract, the greater the scope of specification by instructions from an employer.

Legal basis of the right of direction

Within the framework of the right of management, employer instructions have a unilateral and, as a declaration of intent, which must be received, of a legal nature. Since 2003 there has been a legal regulation of the right of direction in §106 of the Trade Regulations (GewO).

In principle, the employer may, in exercising his right of direction, determine which types of services an employee has to provide to him. The employer also has the option of assigning certain tasks or withdrawing them again.

The right to direct also includes instructions that affect the order and behavior of an employee in a company. This includes, for example, instructions on the appearance of an employee, for example if the employer instructs them to wear uniform uniforms.

Limits of the right of direction

The right of direction finds its limits in all laws that affect collective labor law. These include, for example, collective agreements and works agreements. But the right of co-determination of the works council and the employment contract itself also take precedence over the right of management.

Furthermore, no instructions may be issued on the basis of the right of direction that violate existing legal prohibitions or that are to be regarded as immoral (§134 and §138 BGB).

If an employee does not follow such an instruction, there is no reason for termination on the part of the employer. The employee is not obliged to follow inadmissible instructions from the employer.


  • The right of direction is the right of an employer to give instructions to an employee
  • serves for the purpose of a concrete determination of the work performance owed
  • legal regulation of the right of direction in §106 of the trade regulations (GewO)
  • no instructions are permitted that violate existing legal prohibitions or are immoral
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