Employment law: Basic information

As a worker from abroad, German labour law applies to you. Below you will find the most important regulations.

Employment contract

You have started your work in Germany. You may have agreed to the employment contract in writing or verbally. However, your employer must provide you with the terms of the contract in writing no later than one month later.

This document must include the following information:

  • Your name and address
  • Your employer’s name and address
  • Location of employment and description of the work
  • Commencement and foreseeable duration of the employment relationship
  • Notice period
  • Amount of wages, possible additional payments and when you are paid
  • Agreed working hours, guaranteed minimum working hours
  • Number of days’ holiday
  • Reference to applicable collective agreement
Frau im Beratungsgespräch

The employment contract does not have to be written in a language you understand. However, you must have enough time to have the employment contract translated before you sign it.

Be sure to get a copy of the contract once you and your employer have signed it.

Tip: If you are coming to Germany as a seasonal worker, you can see what a contract might look like from this sample: Sample: Fixed-term contract of employment for seasonal agricultural workers. The sample contract is also available in the Download centre in Romanian, Ukrainian and Georgian.

Termination of the employment relationship

You or your employer may terminate your seasonal employment relationship early. The notice periods to be observed are stated in your employment contract. Your employment may only be terminated without notice in specific cases.

A notice of termination is only valid if it can be proven to have been handed over. This is the case when a notice of termination exists as a written document and has been signed by both parties. A notice of termination is also valid if a witness was present when notice was given or handed over as a written document. Notice of termination by email is not deemed to be written notice of termination and is therefore invalid.

Working hours

The average working hours in Germany is 8 hours per day. This can be extended to up to 10 hours per day for a short period. A rest period of 11 hours is normally prescribed between 2 shifts.

Breaks

If you work between 6 to 9 hours a day, you are entitled to a 30-minute break after no later than 6 hours. If you work more than 9 hours a day, the break is extended to 45 minutes. Labour law prohibits taking the break at the end of the day’s work in order to leave earlier. 

Breaks are not considered working time and are therefore not paid.

Holidays

Even as a seasonal worker, you are entitled to paid leave. This is at least 2 days for each month in which you work full time. The holiday pay may also be paid to you at the end of your period of employment if you have agreed this with your employer in advance.

If you work on Sundays or public holidays, your employer must offer you a corresponding number of days off in lieu within 8 weeks.

Wages

A minimum wage is mandatory for all employees in Germany. This means no employer may pay less than this hourly wage. Since 1 January 2022, the minimum wage has been EUR 9.82 per hour gross. This means before taxes and other charges are deducted from this amount.

Even if you have agreed a piecework rate with your employer, you may not earn less than the statutory minimum wage.

Your employer must also give you a pay slip. This lists the tax amounts that will be deducted from your gross wage. If your employer provides accommodation, the cost for this may also be deducted from your wages. The corresponding amount must also be shown on the pay slip.

Tip: If you are coming to Germany as a seasonal worker, you can use this sample accommodation contract as a guide: Contract for services in connection with seasonal employment: accommodation/meals/travel expenses. The sample contract is also available in the Download centre in Romanian, Ukrainian and Georgian.

More information

You will find more information on German labour law in the “Welcome to Germany!” leaflet. You will also find information on advisory centres that can assist you with your questions. You can find the leaflet in German at the bottom of this page in the “Downloads” section. You can find the leaflet in other languages in the Download centre.

LB-BA-19A9843-02