Immigration. Travel. Living.

Germany: expats work guide

Reichstag and German flag

Getting a job in Germany is difficult but possible, taking into account some nuances.

Work search in Germany

Informatization has reached the labor market too – most German employers take people online, accepting exclusively electronic resumes and conducting interviews on Skype. This also applies to foreigners, who would like to find a job in Germany. There are several of the most popular search channels over the Internet:

  • Directly through the site of a potential employer. This option is suitable for advanced job seekers who have knowledge of the language, good qualifications, and have decided on the position.
  • Using search services such as Jobworld, Adzuna, Jobanzeigen, Jobscanner and so on. They collect all the information on work on the Internet.
  • Using online exchanges like Monster, Staufenbiel, and so on. There are also wide networks of specialized exchanges that staff in specific areas. The undoubted advantages of these channels are the ability to post a resume, create a profile. 
  • With the help of Arbeitsamt (public employment service). The agency’s website helps the representatives of demanded areas, such as medicine, education, and working specialties to find work in Germany.

An employment contract with a German employer

man writing on paper

As in any other civilized country, relations between an employee and an employer arise on the basis of an employment contract – Arbeitsvertrag. In this context, it should immediately be noted that an employment contract is concluded exclusively with an indentured servant. In addition to them, there are still independent employees – legalized freelancers, persons of free professions, and so on.

An employment contract with an employee is valid in accordance with §611a of the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, BGB). According to it, the labor contract obliges the employee to be in the service of the employer, who can give instructions on the content, time, and place of the labor function, but is required to pay for the work of a specialist.

In this context, an employment contract should be distinguished from a free-employment contract – Dienstvertrag, since the first one is “dependent”, and Dienstvertrag is concluded only with independent employees. 

The first surprise is that German lawmakers did not provide for the mandatory written form of Arbeitsvertrag. An employment contract can be concluded both orally and in writing form – there is no liability for the German employer for refusing to issue a written version of the contract. In fact, the work schedule in Germany allows you to get a job, having concluded only an oral agreement with a potential employer. But in this case, in accordance with §16 of the Law on Part-time Employment and Fixed-Term Employment Contracts (Teilzeit und Befristungsgesetz, TzBfG), such a contract should be considered indefinite: a contract concluded for a certain period must be concluded in writing form.

Even if an oral agreement is concluded, in accordance with Section 2 of the Proof of Basic Employment Conditions Act (Nachweisgesetz, NachwG), the employer is obliged to issue a written document to the employee within the first month of work with confirmation of the basic working conditions: end and beginning of the working day, basic labor functions and salary.

Termination of employment contract

Any of the parties to an employment relationship in Germany has the right to terminate an employment relationship. In the case of fixed-term employment contracts, this happens automatically at the end of the term. Termination of the contract is possible both by agreement of the parties and unilaterally – even before the expiration of the contract.

According to §623 BGB, the termination of the employment contract is necessarily carried out in writing form – the parties sign the so-called Aufhebungsvertrag. As a rule, in such a special contract conditions are specified on which the employment relationship is terminated: termination period, compensation, characteristics. The specific conditions depend on who initiated the termination and what causes it.

One of the consequences of signing an Aufhebungsvertrag for an employee may be Arbeitsamt’s refusal to apply for unemployment benefits, motivated by the fact that the person created the conditions for his own unemployment by himself.

Working hours in Germany

The concept of the generally accepted working week is not provided for by the laws of the Federal Republic of Germany: the Law on Working Hours (Arbeitszeitgesetz, ArbZG) regulates only the maximum working hours, which, according to §3 ArbZG, cannot exceed 8 hours. The working day may be extended up to 10 hours. Moreover, §7 ArbZG provides for conditions under which a working day can be extended to be more than 10 hours, for example, up to 12 hours.

In practice, ex-pats in Germany have a working day of more than 8 hours, even if it is not stipulated by the contract – the Germans are a hardworking people, and working time is an effective economic unit. Small refineries are usually not a problem, but for a few hours a week, you can already demand an increase. As a rule, compensation for processing is also provided by the labor contract.

According to §4 ArbZG, the minimum break must be 30 minutes for an 8-hour working day and at least 45 minutes for a 9-hour or longer working day. Rest time can be divided into 15-minute breaks, and working without a break for more than 6 hours in a row is prohibited.

German salaries

For foreigners who are looking for work in Germany, salaries seem high. Salary is a purely subjective matter and depends on the specialty, qualification, experience, diploma, the field of activity of the employer, region of residence, and many other factors. To be objective, we will rely on official and statistical data.

Thus, the minimum wage in Germany, according to the Law on the Minimum Wage – Gesetz zur Regelung eines allgemeinen Mindestlohns (MiLoG), is 8.85 € per hour, although some employers have the right to pay less.

According to Eurostat, the average labor income of a single German without taxes is 33.4 thousand Euros per year or 2.78 thousand per month.

Of course, this is only an average indicator for the country, and the main salary-forming factors are the sphere of activity and specialty. For example, without tax, the average annual labor income is:

  • healthcare – 79.5 thousand €;
  • financial sector – 65 thousand €;
  • IT sector – 68 thousand €;
  • education – 45 thousand €;
  • service jobs – 34 thousand €;
  • trade – 33 thousand €.

Moving to work in Germany is not an easy process. But if your specialty is on the list of popular in the country it is fully justified. Therefore, if you are a highly qualified specialist and want to gain new experience and, meanwhile, make good money – feel free to start your search.

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