German Employment Law

Anyone considering a move to work in Germany should read this for essential information about German employment law and regulation relating to employment contracts, termination of employment, working hours, leave, salary and trade unions.

By Jcornelius (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Anyone considering a move to work in Germany should read this for essential information about German employment law and regulation relating to employment contracts, termination of employment, working hours, leave, salary and trade unions.&#x;&#x;Employment contracts&#x;German employment law is geared to protect the employee and maintain good relations between employee and employer. All German employees must have written contracts with their employer.Contracts of employment are generally made for an unlimited period. However, it is possible for an employee and employer to agree on a fixed-term contract. The duration of such contracts must be set according to objective conditions, such as a specific end date, the completion of a specific task, or the occurrence of a specific event.Employment contracts are often made with a six-month probationary period in place. During this period, the employee can be dismissed with only two weeks&#x; notice. Every full-time employee who has been employed for at least six months in the same establishment can request to work part time. The employer can only deny this request by specifying why it is not feasible.Termination of employment&#x;The minimum statutory period of notice is four weeks; it is increased according to seniority. The maximum entitlement is seven months, which comes into effect after the worker has completed 20 years of service.Any worker who wishes to challenge his/her dismissal must file a submission before a labour court within three weeks. The court can reinstate the worker if it is found that the dismissal was neither socially justified nor for important reasons.Working hours&#x;The legal working time is eight hours per day. This must not be exceeded by expectant and nursing mothers or employees/trainees aged under 18. In all other cases, the regular daily working time may be extended to up to ten hours only if the mean of the daily working time in the following six months is eight hours per day.The law prohibits working on Sundays and holidays. It is only possible to work on these days with prior approval from the government.Paid leave&#x;Employees are entitled to four weeks of holiday per year. However, this is likely to increase, depending on the employee&#x;s company and seniority. In case of an illness, employees are entitled to their full salary for up to six weeks.Maternity leave&#x;During pregnancy and until four months after childbirth, the employee is protected against any dismissal. Maternity leave lasts from six weeks prior to the birth of the child until eight weeks after the birth. In cases of premature or multiple births, maternity leave lasts until 12 weeks after birth. During this period, the employee is paid maternity allowance out of a statutory health insurance fund and a supplement by the employer.&#x;Pay issues&#x;Actual pay is determined in the individual contract of employment, but cannot be lower than the minimum wage established in the relevant collective agreement. There is no statutory minimum wage in Germany.Trade unions&#x;There is no trade union law in Germany. Even though trades unions are generally defined as associations with no legal capacity, they are legally entitled to bargain collectively, as well as to take legal action or to be taken to court.The duties and rights of trade union members are laid down in each trade union's constitution. A strike can only be called by a trade union. It can be used only as a last resort when other means for reaching agreement, especially the arbitration procedure, have been exhausted.