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 ready to help you.
German Labour law provides all employees in Germany special protection with respect to their employers. It regulates working conditions, working hours, breaks and holidays. It also defines clear regulations on dismissal and minimum wage. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) has a great deal 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 before you sign it and bring it back or mail it later. Use this opprotunity to have someone else read it as well.
In some industries workers have joined together to form trade unions for better advocacy of their economic, social or cultural interests. A very important player is the advisory centre of the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB) "Faire Mobilität". Here, you will receive free advice and information regarding your rights on the job market. The offer is available in several languages and, if necessary, interpreters can be employed.
In Germany, the current legal minimum wage is € 9.19 gross per hour. Every single employee is legally entitled to this amount. There are also minimum wages for specific industries. These are negotiated by trade unions and employers in a collective labour agreement, and are binding for those industries.
A regular, full-time work week in Germany consists of 40 hours. In accordance with the Act on the Implementation of Measures of Occupational Safety and Health to Encourage Improvements in the Safety and Health Protection of Workers at Work (Arbeitsschutzgesetz), the maximum daily working time should not exceed 8 hours. A break of at least 30 minutes is added to this. The employer may lengthen the daily working time to up to 10 hours. In such exceptional cases, the employer must make sure that the average daily working time within a six-month period does not exceed 8 hours.
As an employee, the law entitles you to four weeks of paid holiday per year. For a 5 day work week, this means 20 days of holiday each year. However, the average worker in Germany is entitled to more holiday than this. The additional holiday time results from your employment contract (negotiated between you and your employer), a Works Council agreement (negotiated between the Works Council and your employer) or a collective labour agreement (negotiated between trade unions and employers’ associations).
As your employer has to approve your holiday, it makes sense to submit your request as early as possible. There are certain reasons why your employer can reject your request, but generally the employer will have to approve it.
If you fall sick while on holiday, you do not lose out. However, you have to prove you were unable to work with a doctor's certificate.
In a new job you have full holiday entitlement after six months. More information is available on the website of the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB) here.
As an employee, you are economically dependent on your job. This is the reason why employment protection in Germany clearly regulates the dismissal process. Once you have been employed for six months at a company employing ten or more staff members, your employer cannot terminate your employment contract without cause.
Both employers and employees must comply with the legal notice periods and an employment contract can generally be terminated only within a period of four weeks. The longer you work for a company, the longer this notice period becomes. This period can only be changed for the benefit of the employee.
Pregnant women, severely disabled persons and employees on parental leave also enjoy special legal employment protection.
You can take legal action against your dismissal if you sue via the Labour Court within three weeks.
The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) offers more detailed information on employment protection.