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I'm trying to find the non compete clause in my current contract however I haven't found any term or title that mentioned "Wettbe­werbs­verbot" or "Non Competing Clause".

I read online that "A non-compete clause for employees must be agreed in writing in the employment contract and signed by both parties." I'm not sure about the validity of this statement.

  1. What does that mean for me in terms of job switch?

  2. Can I work for a company that's in the same market or is a competitor after resigning from my current job?

  3. If yes, what things I need to look out for?

  4. If no, what can I do if I've an offer from a competing company?

Please share your experience and knowledge in this matter.

PS: I did find the following clause however I'm not sure if it's non competing agreement?

Verschwiegenheitspflicht

Der Arbeitnehmer verpflichtet sich, während der Dauer des Arbeitsverhältnisses und auch
nach dem Ausscheiden, über alle Betriebs- und Geschäftsgeheimnisse Stillschweigen zu
bewahren.
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    The bit you quote is non-disclosure, not non-compete. – Tomas By Mar 1 at 13:33
  • Non-compete clauses aren't very well accepted in Germany. – ouflak Mar 1 at 17:18
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    Verschwiegenheitspflicht = Confidentiality. A form of Wettbe­werbs­verbot will always exist (unless otherwise agreed to in the contract) during your employment based on § 242 BGB Performance in good faith. For the time after your employment, it must be agreed to in your contract and conform to the conditions of §§ 74 ff. HGB, among others: compensation of at least 50% of your pay during that time (§ 74(2)). – Mark Johnson Mar 1 at 19:13
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In Germany (and some other — but not all — European countries), non-compete clauses after the end of your employment are strictly regulated by law (statute and case law). They have to be agreed to in writing in the employment contract, restricted in scope (time, region, and industry), proportional to your level and responsibilities in the company and properly compensated (if the company wants to activate it they have to pay 50% of your salary for as long as the clause binds you). Consequently, employers do not routinely slam broad non-compete clauses in employment contracts and it's not surprising you didn't find any.

Even an actual non-compete clause can be difficult to enforce. Obviously as long as you are employed by your current employer, you still have an obligation of loyalty. You shouldn't steal trade secrets, supplier or customer files, etc.

In practice, you do not need to be concerned about switching jobs within the same industry, especially if you have a job in operations, engineering or support of some kind (i.e. not sales) and are employed directly by your current employer. If you are a salesperson, convincing clients to follow you to your new employer (Abwerbung) could be problematic. Switching from being an employee of a sub-contractor to an employee of the contracting business can also create issues, not for you directly but for your prospective employer, and therefore deter them from extending an offer.

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