Under the principle of “good functioning,” derogations from collective agreements are generally only possible if they are favourable to workers. For example, an enterprise contract may offer better terms of employment than a collective agreement, but not the other way around. However, the social partners have the opportunity to introduce “open clauses” in collective agreements which, under certain conditions, allow for a derogating from collectively agreed standards, even if they change the conditions of employment for the worse. After World War II, the new allied military government in West Germany first maintained the wage break imposed by the Nazis during the war. Although the Allies authorized the re-foundation of trade unions and employers` organizations, wage regulation remained in the power of the military administration until the Allies lifted the wage stoppage in 1948. However, from 1946, the military government, in collaboration with the German Employment Service, prepared the creation of a new law on collective agreements, adopted in April 1949. Finally, the Basic Law of May 1949 contained a guarantee of the general freedom of association (freedom of association) and thus defined the principle of collective autonomy as a constitutional right. For 50 years, the Collective Agreements Act has provided the legal basis for German collective bargaining. The legislation has proven to be a flexible instrument that has allowed the creation of a negotiating system that, in practice, is much more nuanced than it implies its reputation. However, the number of companies that not only use legal opportunities to deviate from tariff standards, but more or less openly violate collective agreements (DE9901290N) is also increasing. In these circumstances, it is clear that new political and legal means must be found to strengthen the validity of collective agreements. In this context, the fiftieth anniversary of the Collective Agreements Act could be the starting point for a broader reflection on the fundamental principles of German collective bargaining and their overall importance to the German social model.