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.

Die Inhalte auf dieser Seite stehen Ihnen auch auf Deutsch zur Verfügung.

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.

From June 1, 2021 to October 31, 2021, you can work up to 102 days instead of 90 days if you and the company agree upon this. If you come from a third country, you must apply for this extension at the local immigration office before your work permit ends.

Third countries are all states except EU countries, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

During your employment as a seasonal worker, German labour law applies to you – regardless of your country of origin.

It is best to find out about your rights as an employee before you enter Germany. As an EU citizen, you can find this and other information in Polish, Romanian and Bulgarian in the Download Center.

Work permit

As a citizen of the European Union (EU), you do not need a work permit to work as a seasonal worker in Germany.

If you come from a third country, you need a work permit. Before the work permit is issued, it is checked whether you meet the requirements for seasonal employment.

Your work permit will then state the period during which you can pursue seasonal employment in Germany. You may not exceed this period – even if you started your employment later than planned.

Important: You may not start seasonal work until you have been granted a work permit.

Special case of Georgia

The Federal Employment Agency (BA) can issue work permits to certain nationals without requiring prior approval by a visa office. This currently applies to Georgian nationals who can 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 the Download Center in German, Romanian and Georgian

Termination of the employment relationship

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 of the German Trade Union Confederation (Hotline des Deutschen Gewerkschaftsbundes) or “Fair Mobility” advisory centres (Beratungsstellen von „Faire Mobilität“).

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. Further information on future adjustments can be found in the leaflet “Information for seasonal workers from third countries” and the leaflet “Information for seasonal workers from the EU”. You can download these 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.

If you are employed or self-employed in your home country, the social insurance there will also cover you in Germany. In this case, you may be exempt from national insurance payments in Germany.

As a citizen of an EU member state you prove that you are exempt from social security with an A1 certificate. You can apply for an A1 certificate in your country of origin at the competent authority. You then submit the certificate to your German employer.

If you come from a third country or if you do not have an A1 certificate, use the questionnaire to determine your compulsory insurance / exemption from insurance. You then give the completed questionnaire to your German employer.

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

You can find out more about this in the leaflet “Information for seasonal workers from third countries” or in the leaflet “Information for seasonal workers from the EU” at the end of the page in the “Downloads” section.

More information is available in the leaflet

Detailed information for seasonal workers from third countries can be found in the leaflet “Information for seasonal workers from third countries”. The leaflet can be found in German, Englisch and Georgian at the bottom oft he page in the „Downloads“ section.

As a seasonal worker from an EU member state, please use the information sheet “Information for seasonal workers from the EU”. This is available in the Download Center in English, German, Polish, Romanian and Bulgarian.

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