Last updated on: August 31st, 2023
The labor law in Germany is not codified in a single code, but rather consists of various federal statutes such as the Working Hours Act, the Minimum Wage Act, and the Federal Paid Leave Act, which govern employment terms and conditions such as working hours, holidays, rest periods, wages, overtime, leave, and termination of employment, among others.
Hours & Pay Regulations
Employees who work 6 days per week are entitled to an annual minimum paid vacation of 24 working days. Working days are all calendar days that are not Sundays or public holidays. Employees with a 5-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 with the same employer has existed for a minimum of 6 months during the applicable vacation year. Any fraction of vacation days that result in at least ½ day is considered as full vacation days.
The employee is entitled to 1/12th of the annual leave for each full month of the existence of the employment relationship –
- for times in a calendar year for which the employee does not acquire full vacation entitlement in that calendar year due to non-compliance with the waiting period
- if the employee resigns from the employment relationship before the waiting period has been completed;
- if the employee leaves the employment relationship after the waiting period has been completed in the first half of a calendar year.
Fractions of vacation days that add up to at least half a day are to be rounded up to full vacation days. In the case where an employee leaves the employment after the waiting period has been completed in the first half of a calendar year, the employee has already received leave in excess of the amount to which the employee is entitled, the holiday pay paid for this cannot be reclaimed.
Vacation must be granted and taken in the current calendar year. A transfer of vacation to the next calendar year is only permitted if there are urgent operational or personal reasons justifying this. If an employee didn’t use their annual leave due to operational or personal reasons, they can carry them to the next calendar year and the leave shall be taken within the first 3 months of the succeeding calendar year i.e by 31st March of the following year. However, at the request of the employee, partial leave i.e. 1/12th of the annual leave must be carried over to the next calendar year.
The vacation is to be granted consecutively unless there are urgent operational or personal reasons for the employee to split the vacation. If the vacation cannot be granted consecutively for operational or personal reasons and the employee is entitled to a vacation of more than 12 working days, one of the vacation parts must comprise at least 12 consecutive working days.
If employers want to be certain that untaken annual leave expires at the end of the leave year or carry-over period they must notify their employee accordingly and correspondingly document that this notification has been given, for example by adding the information provided into the personnel file of the corresponding employee. If employees are granted addition contractual annual leave beyond minimum statutory annual leave, the lapse of such leave should be regulated appropriately, including in their employment contract.
Termination – If the annual leave can no longer be granted in whole or in part due to the termination of the employment relationship, employees must be compensated for the remaining vacation period.
An employee is not entitled to vacation if their previous employer had granted such a vacation period during the same calendar year. This must be certified by the previous employer.
For an employee who falls sick during their annual leave, and is unable to perform work as certified by a doctor, then those days are not counted under vacation days.
Pay – An employee’s vacation pay is based on the employee’s average wage earned in the last 13 weeks before the start of the vacation period, excluding any overtime wages. Employees shall be given vacation pay before the beginning of the vacation period. Federal Paid Leave Act, 1963, §§ 3-4, 7-8, 11.
Effective October 1, 2022, the national minimum wage is € 12 per hour.
The minimum wage given is subject to change and may not be updated. Kindly access the link to get the current rate.
In the event of incapacity for work, employees have the right to receive sick pay up to 100 percent of their salary for a period of 6 weeks. If the employee falls sick again due to the same illness, the 6-week period will start again if 6 months have passed since the end of the last sick leave or if 1 year has passed since the beginning of the first sick leave. In case, an employee gets sick due to a new disease, the 6-week period commences again.
If the incapacity for work continues for more than 3 days, employees must submit proof of incapacity for work with duration.
Medical Certificate –
Employees have the duty of notifying (Anzeigepflicht) their employer without undue delay of any incapacity for work and its anticipated duration in the future. If the incapacity to work lasts for more than 3 working days. Employees are only obliged to have their incapacity for work medically determined on the third day. Employees are not required to submit the yellow certificate (sick note) to their employer themselves.
A yellow certificate is a sick note that a doctor issues to an employee indicating that they are incapable of performing work.
In accordance with Elektronische Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung (“eAU”), it is the employer’s responsibility to retrieve electronic medical certifications from health insurers directly. Employees will no longer be obliged to present the “yellow certificate” to their employer. However, this only applies to employees with statutory insurance. Employees are still obliged to immediately inform the employer of their incapacity to work. Employers have access to sick leave notices electronically from health insurance providers.
Employees with private health insurance shall remain unaffected. Privately insured employees shall be required to submit a medical certificate (in paper form) documenting their incapacity to work by the 4th day at the latest, unless the employer needs it earlier, either contractually or by instruction on a case-to-case basis (Vorlagepflicht). Continued Remuneration Act, 1974, § 5.
An expectant mother must not be employed during the 6 weeks prior to the birth of her child. A woman who has given birth must not be employed for 8 weeks thereafter.
Maternity leave is extended to 12 weeks for premature or multiple births, or if the child is born with a disability. The leave entitlement starts on the day of birth and ends 8 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.
Restriction – 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.
Compensation during maternity leave: During the individual maternity protection period the employee is entitled to full pay. The remuneration of 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. Parents of premature babies (valid for children since September 1st, 2021) may receive up to 4 more months of parental allowance. Maternity Protection Act, 2000, §§ 3, 6, 9-10, Act on the Payment of Child-Raising Benefit and Child-Raising Leave, 2015, § 2.
- Working mothers that are nursing their babies are permitted to take “nursing breaks”, provided that 8 hours of work is 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).
Employees are entitled to parental leave if they have a child living in their household, a child for whom they meet the eligibility requirement or a child whom they have taken into full-time care in accordance with and looked after and raised themselves.
Employees are also entitled to parental leave if they live in the same household as their grandchild and care for and raise this child themselves, and one of the child’s parents is a minor or one of the child’s parents is in education that began before the age of 18 and generally takes up the parent’s full labor force. The entitlement is only available when neither of the child’s parents takes parental leave.
Parents either mother or father shall be entitled to extend their parental leave up to a total of 24 months with a parental allowance paid by the government for the initial period of 14 months.
The entitlement to parental leave exists until the completion of the 3rd year of a child’s life. A portion of 24 months’ leave can be taken after the child’s 3rd birthday but prior to the child’s 8th birthday. An employee on parental leave may be employed part-time for a maximum of 32 hours per week.
Pay – During parental leave, employers are not obliged to pay the employee’s salary. However, during parental leave, employees may be entitled to parental benefits that are provided by the state. The parental benefits amount to 67% of the employee’s average income in the 12 months prior to the child’s birth. Law on Parental Allowance and Parental Leave, § 15.
Employees have the right to unpaid leave from work for up to 10 workdays, if necessary to organize need-based care for a close relative in an acute nursing situation or to ensure nursing care during this time.
Each statutory insured parent can claim a maximum of 30 working days of child sickness benefit per child per year, provided the child is statutory insured. If there are several children, there is a maximum entitlement to a total of 65 days. Double the number of days applies to single parents. Care Time Act, 2008, §§ 3.
An employee is entitled to unpaid leave for a close relative who is in need of care at home for a period of a maximum of 6 months. The claim does not apply to employers with 15 or fewer employees. In case, the close relative is no longer in need of care or home care, the leave ends 4 weeks after the change in circumstances.
Family caregiver leave: Up to 24 months of partial unpaid leave (i.e., complete leave is unavailable). Available only to companies with 25 employees or more, excluding trainees. The employer must be informed at least eight weeks in advance, specifying how long they will be going on leave and to what extent (i.e, they need to work a minimum of 15 hours a week on average). Employees will need to include their preferred working hours as well as “draw up a written agreement” with the employer specifying “the distribution and reduction” of these working hours.
The employer is liable to pay employees for such leave in cases where such a claim has been agreed between the employer and employee via an agreement. Care Time Act, 2008, §§ 4 and 5.
An employee is entitled to 6 weeks of paid leave for organ or tissue donation. The wages paid to the employee by the employer shall be reimbursed to the employer by the statutory health insurance company of the recipient of organs, tissues, or blood for the separation of blood stem cells or other blood components.
The employer shall be reimbursed by the statutory health insurance company of the recipient of organs, tissues, or blood for the separation of blood stem cells or other blood components the wages paid to the employee, as well as the contributions to social security and company pension schemes to be borne by the employer. and survivor’s pension to be reimbursed upon application. If the recipient of organs, tissues, or blood for the separation of blood stem cells or other blood components is subject to federal medical care or military medical care, the responsible institutions shall reimburse the costs pursuant upon application. Continued Remuneration Act, 1974, § 3a.
Employees are entitled to five days of educational leave per year. The entitlement of a current year can be combined with that of a following year if approved by your employer, meaning you can take 10 days of educational leave in one year. This is based on a five-day work week, the entitlement for anyone working more or fewer than five days a week is adjusted accordingly.
An employee is entitled to 2 days of leave if an immediate family member dies.