Schalast | Matrix structure

What does matrix structure mean?

Employees work together across companies, often across borders. There is a separation between the disciplinary right to give instructions (solid line), which must remain with the contract employer, and the technical right to give instructions (dotted line), which can also be exercised across companies. The matrix structure is designed - for tax reasons, among other things - so that collaboration in cross-company teams takes place virtually. The principle of virtual collaboration should also be taken seriously in order to avoid the risk of being integrated into several companies under the Works Constitution Act. Otherwise, the number of employees to be included in the social selection may increase in the event of redundancy. In the event of a transfer, the question of the responsible works council within the meaning of § 99 BetrVG could also cause difficulties.

How is a matrix structure introduced, to what should you pay particular attention?

Introduction usually takes place at the corporate level through contracts between the companies involved in the matrix structure. In addition to a framework agreement, which should also contain the delegation to exercise the technical right to issue instructions (authorization to exercise), it is advisable to specifically define the individual processes that are to work in the matrix in the future and make special regulations for each of them (process agreement).

Ensuring compliance with data protection regulations must also be guaranteed. As part of a matrix structure, not only data from third parties (e.g. customers, contractual partners), but also personal employee data are used across companies, sometimes across borders. This has to be regulated.

Whether or not employment contract adjustments are required depends on the existing employment contract regulations in each individual case. Even if the matrix structure introduction generally leaves the operational structures unaffected, in our opinion co-determination committees should be involved.

What are the challenges when working in the matrix?

It is imperative to ensure the agreed principles are also implemented in practice. In particular, it is advisable to communicate the effects on the respective right to issue instructions and to provide both the line manager and disciplinary superior with specific guidelines that define their roles. This requires sufficient internal communication/meeting the employees in the affected areas in advance.


Matrix structure introduction brings many advantages that result from process-oriented cooperation. However, the introduction should be carefully prepared.