Whether your business has been up and running in Germany for years, or just a number of weeks, it’s always a good idea to refresh yourself on German labor laws. No manager or business owner wants to find themselves in a sticky legal situation abroad.
Employment law in Germany is an enormous subject, so we’ll cover here just the basic tenets to get you off on the right foot. Depending on where you come from, you may be surprised to find that these laws are often written to benefit employees over employers.
The following questions and responses are intended to help you understand the basics of hiring in Germany, employee rights and duties, and contract requirements.
Does Germany Have a Minimum Wage, and if so, How Much is It?
Yes. As an employer in Germany, you are required to pay your employees at least 9.19€ per hour under nearly all circumstances.
How Long is a German Workweek and are Paid Vacations Obligatory?
Though typical workweeks in Germany last from Monday to Friday, Saturday is also considered a working day. As a general rule, employees work up to 8 hours per day (though 10 is allowed under special circumstances) and max out at 48 hours per week.
Germans who work full-time receive at least 20 days paid vacation.
Are German Employers Required to Offer Maternal or Paternal Leave?
Full maternity leave comes with the territory for employers hiring in Germany, though female employees must take their leave within 6 weeks of their due date. Maternity leave generally ends 8 weeks after childbirth.
An important caveat for employers to keep in mind: you cannot fire an employee if she is pregnant or any time in the 4 months after she has given birth.
Whether your employees are male or female, they are entitled to up to 3 years of parental leave for each child they have. As their employer, however, you do not have to pay them during this leave time unless the employee wishes to work part-time.
What is Required in an Employment Contract under German Labor Law?
Generally speaking, contracts in Germany don’t have a time limitation. If you do wish to hire someone on a time-limited basis, you will need to provide a clear reason for the request that is legally permissible.
Make sure to include the following elements in your contracts: job description, start date as well as the duration of the employer-employee relationship, payment terms, the working hours agreed upon, holidays, and notice period.
What are the Legal Requirements if I Need to Let Someone Go?
If your employee is not performing his or her duties or for another reason you wish to fire them, you must give written notice well in advance. Be wary though, as there are only a few situations in which you can do so.
Firstly, if your employee is not capable of performing the job for physical or mental reasons you may let them go. This can include a variety of circumstances, from their suffering an untreatable illness to a drug or alcohol addiction from which they are unlikely to recover.
Secondly, employee misconduct is a viable reason to let someone go. This can range from something as mild as repeated tardiness to violence or theft at work. If it is mild misconduct, the employer must consider less severe options first prior to firing.
Thirdly, you may fire an employee for business reasons, such as the closing of a branch or a lack of work coming in for the employee to fulfill. Please be wary though, as you must be able to prove that this cutback is necessary to the labor courts.
What you’ve read here is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to employment law in Germany. Make sure you are informed.