Labor Compliance Guide

Labor Requirements

German labor law is not codified in a single chapter but composed of various federal statutes, court decisions, and industrial practices. Minimum labor standards are set forth in separate acts namely Working Hours Act, the Minimum Wage Act, Federal Paid Leave Act, etc

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

The working time of the employees may not exceed 8 hours and 48-hours per week. It can only be extended to up to 10 hours if, within 6 calendar months or within 24 weeks, an average of eight hours is not exceeded per working day. Working Hours Act, 1994, No. 33, §§ 3-6.


Employees can be required to perform overtime work only if there is a provision in the employment agreement or in a collective bargaining agreement giving the employer that right. There is no legal provision for premium pay.

Night Work

Night-time means the period from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Any work which occupies more than two hours of night-time is considered night work. Night workers mean workers who:

      • Usually must perform night work on rotating shifts because of their work schedule, or;
      • Perform night work on at least 48 days in a calendar year.

The daily hours of work of night workers may not exceed eight hours. Working Hours Act, 1994, No. 33, §§ 2(3-5), 6.


Employees must not work for more than six consecutive hours without a break. The work must be interrupted by a minimum of 30 minutes’ rest for a working time of more than six to nine hours and 45 minutes for a working time of more than nine hours. The rest periods can be divided into smaller periods of at least 15 minutes each. Employees may not be employed without rest for more than six consecutive hours. Working Hours Act, 1994, No. 33, §§ 3-6.

Work On Rest Days

Workers must have an uninterrupted rest period of at least eleven hours after the end of the daily working hours. Working Hours Act, 1994, No. 33, §§ 5(1).

Sunday Work

Workers may not be generally employed from midnight to midnight (0 to 24 hours) on Sundays. If workers are employed on Sunday, they must have a day of rest in compensation, which shall be granted within a period of two weeks including the day on which they worked  At least 15 Sundays in the year must be free. Working Hours Act, 1994, No. 33, §§ 9-11.

Public Holidays

Germany observes the following nine national holidays, the dates of some of which vary year to year:

      • Jan. 1: New Year’s Day
      • Good Friday
      • Easter Monday
      • May 1: Labor Day
      • Ascension
      • Whit Monday
      • Oct. 3: German Unity Day
      • Dec. 25: Christmas
      • Dec. 26: St. Stephen’s Day

The number of public holidays varies from one federal state to another, with a maximum of 13 holidays in some regions of Germany.

Holidays are always observed on the day on which they fall, even if they fall on a weekend. Holidays are not moved to the nearest Monday, nor do workers get a free day in compensation for a holiday falling on a non-work day.


If employees are required to work on a holiday which falls on a working day, they must have a day of rest in compensation, which must be granted within a period of eight weeks including the day on which they worked. Employees are not entitled to extra pay if they are required to work on a public holiday. Working Hours Act, 1994, No. 33, §§ 11. 

Annual Leave

Employees who work six days per week are entitled to an annual minimum paid vacation of 24 working days. Employees with a five-day working week are entitled to a pro-rata vacation of 20 working days.


Employees can claim their full vacation entitlement if the employment relationship has existed for a minimum of six months during the applicable vacation year. In case of a shorter employment term during the vacation year, the proportionate vacation entitlement is 1/12 for each full month of employment.


Unused leave can only be carried over to the next calendar year if compelling operational reasons or reasons personal to the employee justify it. In the case of a carryover, the vacation must be granted and taken within the first three months of the succeeding calendar year. Federal Paid Leave Act, 1963, §§ 3-4, 7-8, 11.

Minimum Wage

Wage Payment

The date of wage payment depends primarily on employment agreements. If there is no agreement and if a payment schedule is not established by the circumstances, the wage payment interval may not exceed one month for manual workers, 15 days for other employees. German Civil Code, 2002, § 614.


Minimum Wage

Effective January 1, 2020, the national minimum wage is 1,584 per month. Minimum Wage Act, 2014, § 1. 



The minimum wage given is subject to change and may not be updated. Kindly access the link to get the current rate.

Special Leave

Sick Leave

In the event of incapacity for work, the employees have the right to receive sick pay up to 100 percent of salary for six weeks. If the incapacity for work continues for more than 3 days, employees must submit proof of incapacity for work with duration. Continued Remuneration Act, 1974, § 2.

Maternity Leave

An expectant mother must not be employed during the six weeks prior to the birth of her child. A woman who has given birth must not be employed for eight weeks thereafter. This is extended to 12 weeks for premature or multiple births. The leave entitlement starts on the day of birth and ends eight or 12 weeks later on the same day of the week as the day of the birth. In the event of premature birth, the length of time is extended by the time that the actual birth took place before the normally expected date of birth. During this period, the employee is eligible for maternity benefits from her health insurance. Employers cannot dismiss an employee who has a miscarriage after the twelfth week of her pregnancy, for a period of four months, regardless of the weight of the fetus. Maternity Protection Act, 2000, §§ 3, 6, 9­10; Act on the Payment of Child­Raising Benefit and Child­Raising Leave, 2015, § 2.


Benefits of Maternity Leave

      • Expecting and nursing mothers are not permitted to work at night between 20:00 to 06:00.
      • Pregnant employees and nursing mothers are not allowed to work on Sundays or holidays.
      • Expecting and nursing mothers are not permitted to work overtime.
      • Expecting and nursing mothers are not allowed to work more than 8.5 hours daily or 90 hours in a 2-week period.
      • Expecting and nursing mothers under 18 are not permitted to work more than 8 hours daily or 80 hours in a 2-week period.
      • Expectations are made for the pregnant and nursing employees who are working in hospitals, restaurants, hotels, agriculture and the arts and in family households.

Act on the Payment of Child-Raising Benefit and Child-Raising Leave, 2015, § 2.


Nursing Breaks

    • Working mothers that are nursing their babies are permitted to take “nursing breaks”, provided 8 hours of work was not interrupted by a break of 2 hours or more.
    • Nursing breaks are 30 minutes twice a day or one time per day for 1 hour.
    • If a working mother is at the job for more than 8 hours, then she is entitled to two 45-minute breaks or if there isn’t a close nursing area available, then a single 90-minute break is to be provided.
    • These breaks may not be deducted from a nursing mother’s pay or hours worked and they may not be counted in place of other instituted breaks (like lunch breaks).

Compensation during Maternity Leave

During the individual maternity protection period, the employee is entitled to full pay. The remuneration of the pregnant women is calculated on the average remuneration of the last 13 weeks or of the 3 months prior to the beginning of the month of pregnancy.

Paternity Leave

There is no leave benefit specific to fathers, although either parent may take advantage of parental leave.

Parental Leave

In addition to maternity leave, there is the option for the mother or father to take an extended parental leave for up to a total of 24 months, with a parental allowance paid by the government for the initial 14 months. The entitlement to parental leave exists until the completion of the third year of a child’s life. Law on Parental Allowance and Parental Leave, § 15.

Family Care Leave

Employees have the right to stay away from work for up to ten working days if this is necessary to organize need-based care for a close relative in need of care in an acute nursing situation or to ensure nursing care during this time. The claim does not apply to employers with usually 15 or fewer employees. Employees must prove the need for care of the close relative by presenting a certificate.

An employee may also take unpaid full­ or part­time nursing care leave for up to six months if he or she cares for a close relative who needs care in a domestic environment (or, if the relative is a minor, elsewhere). If the employee wishes to take part­ time leave, the employer and the employee must enter into a written agreement on the reduced hours and their allocation. Care Time Act, 2008, §§ 3.

Last updated on: November 3rd, 2020