Working in Germany

I work in Germany

German employees spend an average of 41.2 hours a week at their workplace – and are thus ranked seventh among the hardest working Europeans. This was the finding of a study from the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) in Dublin, which was published in 2008. These figures have remained unchanged. On the other hand, the study also reveals that compared to other European countries, the Germans enjoy an above-average amount of holiday.

Health system

The German health system is one of the best in the world. That is not least thanks to our foreign colleagues. Our hospitals offer excellent training and working opportunities for doctors and qualified specialists from all over the world, both in healthcare and in laboratory and medical technology.

Language

For most jobs in Germany, language skills at b2 level are essential. Courses are available in every EU country.

Working in Europe

Especially in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Greece, unemployment levels are very high. The language barrier, as well as the difference in culture with the northeuropean countries, where there are many vacancies, plays an important role here. A temporary job may be a start to break these barriers.

Job boards

Many employers make use of job boards to find jobseekers abroad, the number of vacancies in Germany is at present over 500,000 (July 2014).

Accommodation in Germany

Usually, your employer or recruitment agency will find you suitable accommodation, close enough to your work place.

The employment contract

The exact nature of your job is detailed in the employment contract. Read through it carefully and ask should there be anything that is not clear or does not tally with verbal agreements. After all you have to sign it so that it is legally binding. Therefore you should always insist on a written contract, which is also normal in Germany. If you are not offered an employment contract, then you should be wary – ask the corresponding professional association or your local Federal Employment Agency office.
The employment contract regulates both your and the employer’s rights and obligations. Most important are the description of your duties and payment, the duration of your probation period, the working hours, workplace, salary and agreed fringe benefits, as well as work breaks and holiday regulations. The employment contract often refers to an applicable collective agreement that has been concluded by the responsible employers’ association with the respective trade union. Should you wish to, you can take a look at it (ask your employer or the company’s works council).

More information at www.ba-auslandsvermittlung.de.

Although the working week mostly varies between 38 and 40 hours in accordance with collective agreements, the Germans work 41 hours a week on average. Flexible working time models are often available (flexitime arrangements), which to a certain extent enable you to schedule your working hours yourself. Management executives and senior employees with higher incomes are expected to work overtime without being paid additional remuneration. In other occupations, on the other hand, special bonuses are paid for night or holiday work, for example in the health sector, security industry and in shift work.

Wages and salaries

Industry-related minimum wages are offered in many economic sectors, for example in the construction industry. Otherwise the wages are negotiated as part of collective bargaining between trade unions and employers’ associations. If there is no collective agreement in your industry, you have to negotiate your salary with your employer yourself. Rates exceeding generally applicable pay scales are often paid for highly sought after specialists. Those who have worked longer in a company generally earn more than new recruits.

“The mechanical engineering and electronic industries are important pillars in our economy. Qualified engineers from abroad help to increase our competitiveness.” Annette Kaiserauer,
Job Placement Officer at ZAV

The average gross monthly income for full-time employees is currently € 3,450. A qualified engineer earns on average € 4,340 a month before tax, a doctor between € 6,500 and € 8,000, and a hairdresser around € 1,500.

Employers often pay additional Christmas bonuses and holiday pay; how high they are and when they are paid are specified in your employment contract. Some companies also pay commission and there is sometimes a 13th or even 14th monthly salary.

Holidays

Every employee in Germany is entitled to paid holiday. The statutory minimum holiday duration each year is currently 20 days (with a regular five-day week) or 24 days (with a six-day week). However, the usual standard period in companies is generally longer than this and ranges between five and six weeks of regularly paid holiday. You only gain full entitlement to holiday time after being employed for six months. Nevertheless, you should not hesitate to ask your employer should you require a few days off work in advance for pressing reasons.

Further reading