Seasonal work in Germany: Your options

As a seasonal worker, German labour law applies to you. It guarantees your comprehensive rights regarding employment contracts, holidays and social security.

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Seasonal work in Germany - in practice, this means: You work up to 90 days out of 180 days in agriculture. The following applies: You regularly work a minimum of 30 hours a week.

If you wish to take up seasonal work in Germany, a prior check will be carried out to ascertain whether and, if so, when and for how long, you have previously carried out this type of work. Important: You may not start seasonal work until you have been granted a work permit.

Note the period of employment

The period of employment stated on your work permit will determine how long you can work. This is irrespective of whether you started your employment later or ended it earlier than planned.

Work permit without a visa

The Federal Employment Agency (BA) may issue work permits to certain nationals without requiring prior approval by a visa office. This currently applies to nationals of Georgia who are permitted to work in Germany as seasonal workers without a visa.

As a seasonal worker, you must still register before entering the country. You can use the Digital Registration on Entry form to do this directly online.

Comprehensive rights

As a seasonal worker, German labour law applies to you. It guarantees your comprehensive rights regarding employment contracts, holidays and social security. The most important regulations are listed below.

Employment Contract

Your employer must conclude a written employment contract with you no later than after one month of working.

It must contain the following information:

  • Your name and address
  • Name and address of your employer.
  • Place of work and description of your tasks
  • Start and anticipated duration of the employment relationship and the period of notice
  • Amount of wages, potential supplements, and when your wages will be paid to you
  • Agreed working time, guaranteed minimum working time and number of days of holiday
  • Reference to the applicable collective agreements
Frau im Beratungsgespräch

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

You must obtain a copy of the contract once you and your employer have signed it.

You can view a sample of this type of contract here: Fixed-term contract of employment for seasonal agricultural workers. The contract template is also available in German: Muster: befristeter Arbeitsvertrag mit landwirtschaftlichen Saisonarbeitskräften.

Termination of the employment contract

You or your employer may terminate the employment relationship prematurely. The notice periods stipulated in your employment contract apply. Only in specific cases may employment be terminated without notice.

Notice of termination must always be issued in writing and signed. Notice of termination by email is not valid.

If you have received notice of termination and wish to object, please contact the Hotline des Deutschen Gewerkschaftsbundes (hotline of the German Federation of Trades Unions) or the Beratungsstellen von „Faire Mobilität“ (“Fair mobility” advisory centres).

Working time

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

Breaks

If you work between 6 to 9 hours a day, you are entitled to a 30-minute break no later than after 6 hours. If you work more than 9 hours a day, the break is extended to 45 minutes.

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

Mehrere Menschen ernten Tomaten auf einem Feld.

Holiday

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 work on Sundays or public holidays, your employer must offer you alternative days off within 8 weeks.

Wages

A minimum wage is mandatory for all workers in Germany. This is currently €9.50 per hour. This is the amount before taxes and other deductions are due (technical term: gross wages).

The minimum wage is regularly reviewed and will be €9.60 per hour from 1 July 2021. The leaflet "Seasonal work in Germany" provides information regarding any future adjustments. You can download this at the bottom of the page.

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 amounts that will be deducted from your gross earnings. These sums represent, for example, tax or the cost of your accommodation if your employer is providing accommodation.

National insurance and health insurance

In Germany, certain types of employment are subject to national insurance deductions and others are exempt from national insurance payments. In the case of employment subject to national insurance, additional contributions are due, for example for health insurance.

You can find out if your employment is subject to national insurance from the Questionnaire to determine the compulsory insurance / exemption from insurance of seasonal workers.

If you are employed or self-employed in your home country, the national insurance payments you make there will also cover you in Germany. In this case, you may be exempt from national insurance payments in Germany. You can find out more about this in the leaflet "Seasonal work in Germany" at the bottom of the page in the "Downloads" section.

If you are employed in Germany without national insurance and do not have health insurance abroad, your employer may take out private health insurance for you. The contributions for private health insurance must not be deducted from your salary.

More information is available in the leaflet

For more comprehensive information, please view the leaflet "Seasonal work in Germany" at the bottom of the page in the "Downloads" section. This contains, for example, information on the following topics: 

  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Occupational Safety and Health
  • In the event of illness
  • Coronavirus pandemic
LB-BA-19A9843-02