Pursuant to this Act, employees who work six days per week are entitled to an annual minimum paid vacation of 24 working days. Employees with a five-day working week are entitled to a pro-rata vacation of 20 working days. Nevertheless, most companies grant a higher vacation entitlement, which normally varies between 25 and 30 days per year. Employees can claim their full vacation entitlement if the employment relationship has existed for a minimum of six months during the applicable vacation year. Generally, any untaken holiday entitlement is forfeited at the end of each vacation year.

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This resource is periodically updated for necessary changes due to legal, market, or practice developments. Significant developments affecting this resource will be described below. Ask a question. Employment and employee benefits in Germany: overview.

Related Content. Scope of employment regulation 1. Do the main laws that regulate the employment relationship apply to:. Foreign nationals working in your jurisdiction? Nationals of your jurisdiction working abroad?

Laws applicable to foreign nationals Subject to the provisions of an employment agreement, German employment law generally applies to foreign nationals working in Germany. However, if the foreign national works in Germany only on a temporary basis for example, on a business trip or secondment , the laws of the jurisdiction that the employee usually works in can apply. However, the agreed choice of law must not exclude mandatory provisions under German law if they are more favourable to the employee than the agreed laws.

The question of which regulations are more favourable to an employee will vary from case to case. For example, the following German employment laws are usually more favourable than the laws of other jurisdictions] to an employee:.

Termination protection. Applicable collective bargaining agreements. In addition, German statutory regulations cannot be ruled out if they are considered public order law. These include provisions on:. Maternity pay. Notifications concerning mass redundancies. There may therefore be cases where the laws of a foreign jurisdiction apply to the employment relationship, but German social security or tax laws can also apply. Laws applicable to nationals working abroad The rules above also apply, depending on the local laws, to German nationals working abroad.

Employment status 2. Does the law distinguish between different categories of worker? If so, what are the requirements to fall into each category, the material differences in entitlement to statutory employment rights and are there any maximum time periods for which each category of worker can be engaged?

Categories of worker Generally, workers can be categorised as follows:. Dependent workers in an employer-employee relationship employee. Independent workers self-employed contractors, such as freelancers and consultants. An employee is someone who performs services under an employment agreement, under the direction and supervision of the employer. An independent worker performs services on the basis of a service agreement and assumes the sole risk for his business.

Even where a contract specifically describes a worker as an independent worker, that worker can still, in fact, be an employee given the circumstances of their employment relationship and can still be entitled to the same rights as an employee. Whether someone is considered as self-employed or an employee must be determined by an overall assessment, by taking into account various criteria, including but not limited to the following:.

Is the contractor mainly free in deciding how, when and where to perform the services? Or is the contractor subject to specific working hours, start and end of working hours, and the location of the services? Can the contractor use its own staff to perform the services or is the contractor obliged to perform the services in person? Is the contractor allowed to work for other clients and does the contractor in fact work for other relevant clients?

Does the contractor work full time or most of the time only for the contracting party? Is the contractor obliged to use the equipment of the client such as a computer, email address and phone number or can the contractor use its own equipment? If someone is wrongly classified as self-employed, but is in fact an employee, this can trigger various consequences. For employment law purposes the person will enjoy all employee protection rights such as termination protection, potentially resulting in an indefinite employment relationship or a request to pay severance pay, sick pay, holiday pay or minimum wage.

Under the social security laws, an independent contractor may have made all the necessary social security contributions that are required to be made by employees. In this instance, the employer may then be liable to pay the required social security contributions for both the employer and the employee for the last four years and, in case of intent, for the last 30 years of the duration of the employment contract. If an employer intentionally categorises an employee as an independent contractor, this can amount to a criminal offence.

Other categories of employees are as follows:. Tariff workers, who fall under the scope of a tariff agreement. They fall under the scope of a works council if any exists and usually enjoy all employee protection laws.

Non-tariff workers, employees who fall outside the scope of a tariff agreement usually because they earn more than the highest paid tariff group. Managing employees, who are not represented by the works council.

They enjoy most of the employee protection laws, but with some restrictions for example, the Working Time Act is not applicable, and a court can dissolve the employment relationship in consideration of a severance pay even if a termination is not supported by sufficient reasons. Statutory representatives for example, managing directors of a limited liability company are not considered as employees for the purpose of the employment laws.

However, they can also enjoy certain employment rights for example, minimum notice period, minimum holidays. Entitlement to statutory employment rights Employees enjoy all the statutory protections afforded to them. Independent contractors are not subject to these protections. Time periods There is no maximum period of engagement for any category of worker.

Recruitment 3. Are any grants or incentives available for employing people? Grants or incentives Employers can apply for a grant Eingliederungszuschuss to employ people who are unable to find a job due to personal reasons for example, because of disability or long-term unemployment. The duration and amount of the grant will vary depending on the individual circumstances. Filings The employer must ensure that social security contributions and income tax payments are duly made to the social security and tax authorities.

The employer must therefore register the employees with the competent authorities. In addition, the employer must be registered for statutory employers' liability insurance Berufsgenossenschaft. Additional filings may be required for specific groups of employees, such as severely disabled or pregnant employees. Background checks 4. Are there any restrictions or prohibitions on carrying out background checks in relation to applicants? Background checks Background checks are subject to strict data protection requirements and are only permissible to the extent that the:.

Employee's right to privacy is not affected in an unreasonable manner. Employer has a reasonable and legitimate interest to obtain the information requested. This will depend on the requirements of the specific role the candidate has applied for. For example, while asking for police records or even conducting a financial back ground check may be permissible for a cashier in a bank, it may not be permissible for blue collar workers working at an assembly line.

Interviews The primary tool to obtain information about a candidate is to either ask questions in a job interview or to use an employee questionnaire. In both cases, questions can only be asked if they:. Are supported by a legitimate interest of the employer. Do not amount to a disproportionate invasion of the candidate's right to privacy. Questions relating to previous job positions are generally reasonable. However, questions about pregnancy, illness, religion and membership in a union are usually unreasonable and will therefore be unlawful.

It is only permissible to ask about these matters in rare circumstances for example, if a pregnant employee applies to work with highly toxic materials.

Permission to work 5. What prior approvals do foreign nationals require to work in your country? All other nationals will usually require a residence and a work permit. Nationals of, among others, the US, Israel and Japan, and skilled workers enjoy favourable immigration treatment and have access to fast-track procedures EU Blue Card. Bilateral agreements with certain states such as the US, Israel and Japan grant those nationals permission to enter Germany for no more than 90 days within a period of days without a visa.

If nationals of these countries intend to take up employment in Germany or want to stay for a longer time period in Germany, they can apply for the required residence permit with the competent aliens office in Germany. However, they must not start to work until they have obtained the required residence permit.

Certain activities such as consultations and negotiations during time-limited business travel or attending trade fairs are usually not regarded as taking up for work in Germany. If in doubt as to whether the intended activity requires a permit, it is advisable to consult the German authorities in advance.

Required residence permits must be obtained prior entering Germany. Procedure for obtaining approval. A visa or a residence title, which includes a visa must be obtained from the German embassy consulate at the current location of permanent residence before entering Germany. The visa costs EUR Time frame. The time frame for processing varies between two to ten days for a short-term visa and up to a couple of months for a long-term visa or a visa including a work permit.

On expiry of the visa, the foreign national must leave Germany. A renewal is generally not possible with certain exceptions in rare cases such as serious illness. The foreign national can apply for a new visa at the German embassy consulate at his permanent residence. Permits There are no separate authorisation procedures for residence and work permits so work permits can now be granted as part of the residence title.

The residence permit is always temporary. After holding a residence permit for five years, an unlimited settlement permit can be applied for. An application for a residence title can be filed at the German embassy consulate before entering Germany or at the local aliens departments after entering if a visa is not required.

The residence title can cost up to EUR


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Employment and employee benefits in Germany: overview






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