Injunctions and calls to the police: N26’s employees rebel against the German challenger bank

N26 employees have set up a works council despite their employer arguing it would stand “against almost all values we believe in” and filing injunctions to prevent it from coming into existence in what is proving to be a messy affair.

N26 has become one of Europe’s most valuable FinTech startups since its launch in 2013. The German challenger bank was valued at $3.5bn earlier this year after extending its Series D round with another $100m, with the raise now totalling $570m.

However, it seems as if the growth of the neobank has come at the expense of the company’s staff members’ approval of their leadership. Now, employees are picking a fight with N26’s management by deciding to form a works council, something the digital lender’s founders are very much opposed to.

The fight kicked off in earnest earlier in August when 30 employees issued an open letter saying that confidence in the company’s leadership was “at an all time low,” according to Sifted.

The employees seemed particularly aggrieved about uneven salaries, information which had been learned through a loophole that enabled N26 employees to look up how much their colleagues were paid.

That seemingly added to the tensions uncovered in 2019 when it was revealed that Glassdoor approval ratings for the CEO Valentin Stalf had slumped to 47%.

Moreover, the company has also had to deal with several resignations, including the exit of its chief personnel officer Noor van Boven in July.

That being said, N26 is hardly alone in having suffered an executive exodus. Revolut has lost several members of its top brass in 2020 alone.

Anyhoo, with tensions running hot, a group of N26 workers decided that it was time to take action and set up a works council, something they are entitled to under German law. They met up and chose the board members of its works council earlier this week.

However, the leadership of N26 is not happy about the initiative and has tried to stop the council from forming. It reportedly went so far as filing an injunction against the workers, according to Finance Forward, which broke the story.

In the injunction, filed at the Berlin labour court, the company said it was worried that the meetup could result in the spread of Covid-19.

Stalf and his co-founder Maximilian Tayenthal sent an email to its staff saying that the works council would stand “against almost all values ​​that we believe in at N26.”

It continued to say that it would slow the company down, remove simplicity by making “our collaboration more complex and hierarchical.” They also said it would undermine “a culture of trust and could lead to increased levels of confrontation” as well saying that a council is “not a contemporary instrument of employee engagement and limits personal career development and impact.”

The leadership did suggest that N26 could create a global employee representation board, which the employees didn’t seem to respond to.

Despite the injunction, the employees did meet up and elected its first board to its works council, which will “now begin the process of organising a works council election,” according to a the tweet from the group’s official account.

But it seems as if the N26 office politics will continue to be messy for some time still. The electoral board selection would take place on Friday, which the group’s Twitter account said that the neobank tried to prevent as well.

“N26 has filed another restraining order to prevent today’s Electoral Board Selection for N26 GmbH, this time against the union ver.di,” the account tweeted. “As such, IG Metall has stepped in to chair today’s meeting. It will take place at the same venue, with the time delayed so people can make it.”

A few hours later, the account tweeted, “Someone has called the police to check the safety measures of the meeting. They found no issue and have left the premises.”

Copyright © 2020 FinTech Global

Enjoying the stories?

Subscribe to our daily FinTech newsletter and get the latest industry news & research


The following investor(s) were tagged in this article.