Terms and conditions of employment

Information about Rights & Duties

Terms and conditions of employment, including for posted workers, as stipulated by law or statutory instrument (including information on working hours, paid leave, holiday entitlements, rights and obligations regarding overtime work, health checks, termination of contracts, dismissal and redundancies)


Employees are entitled to the payment of the legal minimum wage in line with the Federal Minimum Wage Act . The legal minimum wage is adjusted at regular intervals by a federal government regulation based on the proposal of a Minimum Wage Commission. Information on the current amount and the calculation of the minimum wage is available on the website of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and on the website of the customs authorities , which monitor compliance with the provisions of the Federal Minimum Wage Act.

In addition, employees may be entitled to collective agreement remuneration conditions if their employer and the employees are bound by collective agreements or the binding nature of the collective agreement is established by a general declaration of applicability of collective agreements under the Federal Collective Agreement Act or a regulation under the Federal Posted Workers Act. In the care sector and in the labour supply segment, minimum wages may be specified by a regulation. If federal generally binding collective agreements or a regulation in the labour supply or care sector is involved, the customs administration authorities monitor compliance with the minimum wages. The customs administration authorities provide information on the minimum wages that they monitor on their website .

Working time

A collective agreement or individual agreement may split the weekly working time across individual days within the scope defined by the Federal Working Time Act (ArbZG) , and the start, end and breaks during the daily working time can be specified. In this case, the employer must take account of the extensive comanagement right of the works council as defined in Section 87(1) number 2 of the Federal Works Council Constitution Act (BetrVG).

Severely disabled persons are entitled to adequately structured working time in consideration of their requirements (Section 164(4) number 4 of the Ninth Book of the Social Insurance Code (SGB IX).

Maximum working times

The amount of time to be worked and when this work is to be provided essentially depends on the collective, operating or employment agreement on which the respective employment relationship is based.

The maximum permissible working time is primarily defined by the Federal Working Time Act (ArbZG) as well as by other special working time protection provisions, e.g. by the Federal Act on the Protection of Young People at Work (JArbSchG) .

The basic daily maximum working time is 8 hours per working day. Working days are the days from Monday to Saturday. The working time may be extended to 10 hours on working days, if the working time is compensated such that an average of 8 hours per working day is not exceeded over a period of 6 months.

On-call service and standby duty are also considered working time when calculating the maximum permissible working time. If employees are employed by multiple employers, the total working times must not exceed the maximum working times.


In the event of a working time of more than 6 hours, a break time of at least 30 minutes must be provided and, for a working time of more than 9 hours, a break of at least 45 minutes is required. But this minimum break time can also be split into several breaks. In this case, the individual break must always amount to at least 15 minutes. No employee may work for longer than 6 hours without a break period.

Rest periods

After the end of the working time, the employee must be given an uninterrupted rest period of at least 11 hours. The duration of the 11-hour rest period may be reduced by up to one hour in hospitals and similar institutions as well as in certain establishments (such as in restaurants, catering and hotel establishments, in transport companies or in agriculture) if the reduction in the rest period is compensated.

Employment on Sundays and public holidays

In Germany the weekly rest day is essentially Sunday. The employment of staff on Sundays and public holidays is fundamentally prohibited with a small number of legal exceptions (such as in hospitals, for emergency and rescue services, in transport companies or in restaurants).

If certain work needs to be carried out on Sunday in exceptional circumstances, employees must then promptly receive a replacement rest day. In addition, at least 15 Sundays a year must be work-free whatever the circumstances.

The parties to the collective agreement as well as the operating partners (based on a collective agreement) may agree to certain deviations from the aforementioned regulations on working time.

Health checks and health check-ups

Night workers, i.e. employees who perform a considerable amount of work between 11 PM and 6 AM are entitled to undergo an occupational medical check-up before the start of employment and then at regular intervals thereafter. After reaching 50 years of age, night workers are entitled to this right at intervals of one year. The employer is essentially required to bear the costs of the check-ups.

Young people are also entitled to medical check-ups if the corresponding requirements are in place (e.g. initial check-up, initial follow-up, annual follow-up). The employer must inform the young person of this option in good time.


The minimum holiday under the Federal Holiday Act is 24 days a year based on a six-day week. Additional holiday entitlements may be established from special legal (e.g. Section 208 of the Ninth Book of the Social Insurance Code (SGB IX)) or other regulations, such as collective agreements or employment contracts.

Fixed-term employment contracts

Fixed-term contracts may only be concluded if this is expressly permitted by law. The Federal Part-Time and Fixed-Term Employment Act (TzBfG) contains general regulations on the establishment of fixed-term employment contracts.

Fixed-term employment contracts can only be effectively established if this has been agreed in writing. A fixed-term contract generally ends without a notice of termination. It may only be subject to a (timely) ordinary termination if this is agreed between the contracting parties or in a collective agreement.

Fixed-term contracts must essentially be objectively justified. The Federal Part-Time and Fixed-Term Employment Act contains a non-exhaustive list of possible objective reasons (e.g. replacement). Fixed-terms up to a total duration of two years (which can be extended three times) are also permissible without an objective reason, if no fixed-term or permanent employment relationship previously existed with the same employer (ban on linking of fixed-term contracts). A collective agreement may contain different regulations on the maximum time limit and the number of extensions of fixed terms without an objective reason.

In addition, the Federal Part-Time and Fixed-Term Employment Act contains special regulations for fixed terms without an objective reason in newly established undertakings and with employees over 52 years of age.

Apart from the Federal Part-Time and Fixed-Term Employment Act, special legal regulations on fixed-term employment contracts exist for certain groups of people, particularly in the Federal Science and Research Act governing Fixed-Term Contracts.

The unlawful establishment of a fixed-term employment contract leads to a permanent employment relationship. An employee who wishes to check the effectiveness of the fixed-term nature of an employment contract in court can initiate legal proceedings within three weeks of the expiration of the fixed-term contract.

Part time under the Federal Part-Time and Fixed-Term Employment Act (TzBfG)

In general, the employer must look into an employees request to amend the duration and/or situation of the existing contractual working time.

Employees whose employment relationship has existed for more than six months may request a reduction in their contractually agreed working time in line with the Federal Part-Time and Fixed-Term Employment Act (TzBfG) . They must notify their employer of the request for part-time employment three months before the planned commencement in text form (e.g. by email).

A legal entitlement to indefinite part-time employment is subject to the prerequisite that the employer regularly employs more than 15 staff. In addition, an entitlement to temporary part-time employment exists for employers that regularly employ more than 45 staff. In this case, the employee automatically returns to the originally agreed working time after the expiration of an agreed reduction in the working time for a set period (between one and five years).

The employer may oppose the employees part-time request for operational reasons. In the case of temporary part time employment, a certain reasonable limit also applies for employers that regularly employ between 46 and 200 staff.

The employer can amend the distribution of the working time if the business interests significantly outweigh the interests of the employee and the employer announces the change no later than one month prior.

Part-time employees who wish to extend their working time and notify the employer of this in text form must be given preference when filling an appropriate vacant position. Exceptions only apply if this is not possible due to urgent operational reasons or the working time requests of other employees, if the vacant position is not appropriate or if the employee is not equally suitable to fill the vacant position as another applicant. The employer is required to provide evidence of these kinds of exceptions.

On-call work

As part of on-call work , a certain working time budget is agreed for a future period; the employer then calls on the employees to perform their work on demand, when the work is required.

In the case of on-call work, only the distribution of the previously agreed working time budget is variable. By contrast, the weekly working time must be contractually defined; if this is missing, 20 hours is automatically deemed to have been agreed. The daily duration of the working time must also be contractually defined; if this does not take place, the individually called deployment must last at least three hours. At least four days must lie between the call to perform the work and the commencement of the work.

Collective agreements may contain deviations under certain conditions.

Protection against dismissal

Certain rules apply for the termination of the employment relationship. The Federal Protection Against Dismissal Act applies in undertakings with more than ten employees. In this case, the employer may only terminate the employment relationship if grounds for dismissal exist. Grounds for dismissal permitted by the Federal Protection Against Dismissal Act are reasons relating to the person or the behaviour of the employee or operational reasons.

Both the employer as well as the employee must comply with the statutory or agreed notice periods. Termination without notice is only permissible if good cause exists.

A notice of termination must be submitted in writing.

In addition to the general protection against dismissal defined in the Federal Protection Against Dismissal Act, special protection against dismissal exists for certain particularly vulnerable groups of people (e.g. pregnant mothers or severely disabled persons).

An employee who wishes to check the effectiveness of their notice of termination in court can initiate legal protection against dismissal proceedings within three weeks of receipt of the written notice of termination.

Posted workers

Posted workers are entitled to certain working conditions that are contained in the legislation or in certain generally applicable collective agreements. The specific conditions of employment that apply for posted workers are regulated by the Federal Posted Workers Act. The applicable conditions of employment particularly include:

  • remuneration,
  • paid minimum annual holiday,
  • maximum working times and minimum rest times,
  • conditions for posting workers,
  • safety, health protection and hygiene at the work place, including housing requirements,
  • protective measures in connection with working and employment conditions for pregnant mothers and workers who have recently given birth, children and young people,
  • equal treatment and anti-discrimination provisions,
  • under certain conditions: allowances and reimbursement of expenses in connection with travel, accommodation and catering for business trips.

A detailed overview of the applicable working conditions is provided on the single official national website as defined under Article 5 of Directive 2014/67/EU.

Unemployment benefit

Unemployment allowance

The unemployment allowance is an insurance benefit. It is financed by the contributions of employees subject to social insurance and their employers. Any individual who has been insured for the legally stipulated minimum period is legally entitled to the benefit upon occurrence of an insured event.

The following individuals are entitled to unemployment allowance:

Individuals who are unemployed, have personally registered as unemployed with the employment agency and have satisfied the qualifying period.

The right to unemployment allowance is regulated in the Third Book of the Social Insurance Code (SGB III).

The competent benefit provider is the Federal Employment Agency (BA) or the competent local employment agency.

Basic insurance for jobseekers (unemployment allowance II)

Able-bodied persons entitled to benefits, who are not able to earn a living independently (income or assets) are entitled to subsistence benefits (unemployment allowance II) if all other requirements are met.

The basic security for jobseekers is a minimum security system. The benefits are not dependent on contributions and are essentially available to all able-bodied persons entitled to benefits.

Job centres are responsible for the unemployment allowance II.

The right to basic security for jobseekers is regulated in the Second Book of the Social Insurance Code (SGB II).

Further information

Legal provisions

  • Federal Minimum Wage Act [ Mindestlohngesetz ]:
  • Federal Working Time Act [ Arbeitszeitgesetz ]:
  • Federal Act on the Protection of Young People at Work [ Jugendarbeitsschutzgesetz ]:
  • Federal Maternity Protection Act [ Mutterschutzgesetz] :
  • Federal Part-Time and Fixed-Term Employment Act [ Teilzeit- und Befristungsgesetz ]:
  • Federal Protection Against Dismissal Act [ Kündigungsschutzgesetz ]:
  • Federal Posted Workers Act [ Arbeitnehmerentsendegesetz ]:
  • Federal Maritime Labour Act [ Seearbeitsgesetz ]:


  • Labour law
  • Remuneration
  • Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs
  • Customs online (Zoll)
  • Working time regulations
  • Protection of children and young people
  • Part-time regulations
  • Termination regulations
  • Posted workers regulations
  • Information for maritime workers

Unemployment benefit

Comprehensive information on the unemployment allowance is contained in the fact sheet for unemployed workers published by the Federal Employment Agency .

Responsible for the content
Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

Last update or date of publication