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July 15—Effective immediately, cabinet members and parliamentary state secretaries cannot accept jobs outside the public service within 18 months after leaving office, under legislation approved by the Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament, July 10 and by the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, July 2 and awaiting Federal President Joachim Gauck's signature.
Under the new law, former cabinet members will be required to file a written notice with the German Cabinet about their job plans at least one month before taking a new job in the private sector. If the cabinet anticipates problematic overlaps with government employment, it may prohibit the job change—usually for a period of up to one year. In exceptional cases, the waiting period can be extended to 18 months. The cabinet's decision will be based on the recommendation of an advisory body whose members have held leading government or social positions.
The new law is a response to criticism about some top politicians taking jobs in the private sector. Former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, for example, took a position with Nord Stream AG, whose principal owner is the Russian company Gazprom, just a few weeks after leaving office, while Ronald Pofalla, formerly head of the Chancellor's office, took a position as chief representative for political and international relations with Deutsche Bahn AG.
Similarly, Dirk Niebel and Daniel Bahr, former members of Germany's Free Democratic Party, took jobs in the private sector after their party lost its seats in the Bundestag in the 2013 general elections. Niebel now works as a lobbyist for the armaments and automotive supply company Rheinmetall, while Bahr, formerly the Cabinet's health minister, began work as a manager with Allianz Private Health Insurance a few weeks after leaving his government position.
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Full text of the legislation is available at http://dipbt.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/18/046/1804630.pdf, the report and recommendations of the Bundestag's committee on internal affairs at http://dipbt.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/18/054/1805419.pdf, both in German.
For more information on German HR law and regulation, see the Germany primer.
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