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Project Expat
  • Project Expat
  • Dec 08, 2021

German Employment Law: A Guide for Expats

For expats, understanding German Employment Law takes time and is often confusing. Most expats come to Germany because of work. Therefore, it is inevitable to deal with German labour law sooner or later.

In this featured article of our esteemed partner MAYR Kanzlei für Arbeitsrecht will get you the most important information about labour law:

At the centre of “Employment law” is the employment contract, determining the relationship between employers and employees. In general, the parties can freely choose the applicability of German law and determine the working conditions. The freedom of contract is limited by different legal regulations in Germany which secure the right of employees to be protected. Aside from statutory provisions, there are numerous collective bargaining agreements between employer’s associations and unions, so called “Tarifverträge.”

In certain fields or companies, these can set rules for working conditions which may trump the regulations in the individual employment contract and deviate from the statutory provisions. In companies that have a works council or “Betriebsrat”, there may be additional agreements between the employer and the works council, so called “Betriebsvereinbarungen”. These, too, may prevail over the regulations of an individual employment contract.

Whereas a collective bargaining agreement is negotiated by the unions and therefore independent of the employer’s company, the works council (“Betriebsrat”) is an organ of employee representation that can be elected in most companies and that has a range of participation rights.

Signing an Employment contract

Employment contracts are usually indefinite in length, whereas temporary ones can usually be limited to two years and then renewed without justification. After the two-year mark, any further limitation must have a valid explanation; otherwise, the contract will be deemed an indefinite one.

German Employment Law

The law requires a probationary period of 6 months with a 2 week notice period; any changes to these parameters, such as lengthening the probationary period or reducing the notice period, are not allowed.

Being Employed in Germany

Employers have a duty to deduct income tax from their employees’ pay and to register them with the social security system. Both the employers and employees contribute towards social security, which is taken out of their gross income in combination with the income tax.

There are numerous regulations in place to protect employees, such as the right to six weeks of continued remuneration in case of sickness, a minimum holiday entitlement of 20 days per year, the right to request part-time work and parental leave, and maternity protection. There is also a minimum wage in place of EUR X. Other regulations regarding maximum working hours, health and safety at the workplace, etc. also exist.

Ending and employment contract

A termination of an employment contract can be accomplished either through mutual consent or via notification from any involved party. Giving notice or signing a separation agreement bears the risk, for employees, of receiving disadvantages later on, when applying for unemployment benefits. We highly recommend to seek professional advice before signing a separation agreement or giving notice.

The German “Kündigungsschutzgesetz” (Termination Protection Act) safeguards employees from being terminated without just cause in the realm of employment law. This rule usually applies to people who have worked for the same company for at least six months. It usually applies to companies that have more than ten employees.  In order for an employer to justify a termination in a lawsuit, this provision requires them to show proof of the reasons for the termination and the lack of alternatives to it in each individual situation.

German Employment Termination

The representative responsible for the employer must sign off on any termination.There are two types of termination: A termination with a notice period, and a termination without a notice period. Generally, a notice period of four weeks must be observed before the 15th or the end of the month if an employee is within two years of employment, as determined by law.

The Rights of an Employee

Employees have the right to contest a termination before the labour court, within 3 weeks of receiving a termination. If they do not do this, the termination becomes valid. Termination lawsuits are common, and the risk of cost is comparatively low as each party carries their own lawyer’s fees. A severance payment is typically used to settle the majority of termination lawsuits.

It is well worth it to sign up for a legal insurance policy that covers employment law. This way, employees can consult a specialist employment lawyer in case of an unjust termination, and there is virtually no financial bar to accessing their rights before the labour courts.

Do you have any further questions?

The MAYR law firm, founded by Lorenz Mayr in 2003, provides English-based labor and employment law services in Berlin and Cottbus. Lorenz Mayr is a certified specialist attorney for labor and employment law. The firm has several dedicated attorneys and specialist lawyers, all of whom have successfully demonstrated their expertise in employment law firms in Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, Birmingham/USA, Brussels, Prague, and Regensburg.

Get in touch

Web: https://www.mayr-arbeitsrecht.de/

Phone: +493069809070

Mail: zentrale@mayr-arbeitsrecht.de

Get in touch


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I think that would be a great initiative and an added value service for expats like myself.


What a great idea to set up a website for English-speaking ex-pat's in Munich to help with everyday challenges.


I am looking forward to your services in the mentioned topics in the survey.


Sounds exciting and we would definitely use it for a myriad of reasons. Particularly as we are getting ready to move to Germering and require all of these services. Specifically, sometimes it is hard finding doctors who speak English. And both Cecilia and I work with auslanders who do not speak German, either (and would as well be interested).