Employees are well protected in Germany. If you work in FrankfurtRheinMain (FRM), you are entitled to certain rights. Below you will find a short overview of them. FRM also has many advisory services that are happy to help you.
German labour law provides all employees in Germany with special protection with regard to their employers. It regulates working conditions, working hours, breaks and holidays. It also defines clear regulations on dismissal and the minimum wage. At the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales, BMAS) you will find a lot of information on the topic of labour law.
In Germany, serious employment contracts are always in written form and never verbal agreements. Before signing an employment contract, make sure to read it through carefully. A serious employer will allow you to take the contract home. You can sign it later and bring it back or post it. Use this opportunity to have someone else read it as well.
In some industries workers have joined together to form trade unions to better look after their economic, social or cultural interests. The advisory centre of the German Federation of Trade Unions (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, DGB), "Faire Mobilität" is very helpful. Here, you will receive free advice and information regarding your rights on the job market. The service is available in several languages and, if necessary, interpreters can be employed.
In Germany, the current legal minimum wage is € 9.35 gross per hour. Almost every employee is entitled to this. There are also minimum wages for specific industries. These are negotiated by trade unions and employers in a collective agreement, and are generally binding.
A regular, full-time work week in Germany consists of 40 hours. In accordance with the Occupational Safety Act (Arbeitsschutzgesetz), maximum daily working hours should not exceed 8 hours. A break of at least 30 minutes is added to this. The employer may lengthen the daily working hours to up to 10 hours. In such exceptional cases, the employer must ensure that the average daily working hours within a six-month period does not exceed 8 hours.
As an employee, you are entitled by law to four weeks’ paid leave per year. For a 5 day work week, this means 20 days’ leave per year. However, the average worker in Germany is entitled to much more leave than this. The additional leave time depends on your employment contract (negotiated between you and your employer), a Works Council agreement (negotiated between the Works Council and your employer) or a collective agreement (negotiated between trade unions and employers’ associations).
As your employer has to approve your leave, it makes sense to submit your request as early as possible. Your employer has the right to reject your request, but generally they have to approve it.
If you fall sick while on leave, you do not lose it. However, you will have to prove you were unfit for work with a doctor's note.
In a new job you have full leave entitlement after six months. More information is available on the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB) website.
As an employee, you are financially dependent on your job. Therefore in Germany you are protected by law against unwarranted dismissal (Kündigungsschütz), which clearly regulates the termination of an employment agreement. Once you have been employed for six months at a company with ten or more employees, you cannot be terminated without a reason.
Notice periods have to be adhered to, and an employment contract can generally only be terminated with a notice period of four weeks. The longer you work for a company, the longer the notice period. The notice period can only be changed to the benefit of the employee.
Pregnant women, the severely disabled and employees on parental leave also enjoy special legal protection against unwarranted dismissal.
You can take legal action against your dismissal if you file a lawsuit at the Labour Court within three weeks.
You will find more detailed information on protection against unwarranted dismissal at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS).