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Working Conditions in Germany

1. Minimum Working Conditions

The terms and conditions of employment (such as maximum working hours, minimum paid holiday and sick leave) are regulated by statutes, collective bargaining agreements and works council agreements. The individual employment agreement cannot deviate from these provisions to the detriment of the employee. The rights of employees who are only temporarily sent to work in Germany are generally determined by foreign labour law. However, to ensure fair competition and to protect the interests of employees, the German Posted Workers Act (AEntG) stipulates that in certain business sectors – including, but not limited to the construction, commercial cleaning and mail service sectors – certain minimum working conditions must be observed. They include: 1) maximum work periods and minimum rest periods; 2) minimum paid vacation entitlements; 3) minimum wage, including overtime (pursuant to the relevant collective bargaining agreement); 4) regulations on health, safety, and hygiene at work; 5) maternity/parental leave and youth protection; and 6) non-discrimination provisions including prohibitions on gender discrimination.

2. Salary

A statutory minimum wage of 8.50 Euros per hour has come into effect in Germany as of January 1, 2015. It generally applies to all employees in all sectors of business. Employees under 18, trainees and interns are exempted from the regulation. Aside from the statutory minimum wage, there are special regulations and collective bargaining agreements within certain sectors, i.e. the construction sector. Most of these regulations contain a minimum wage above 8.50 Euros per hour, so that the introduction of the statutory minimum wage does not have a direct effect in these sectors. As a general rule, remuneration is determined by mutual agreement.

3. Maximum Working Week

The statutory maximum working time is 8 hours per day from Monday to Saturday. Working on Sundays and public holidays is generally forbidden, unless explicitly permitted by statutory law. The statutory maximum weekly working time is 48 hours. The regular daily working time may be extended up to 10 hours, provided that on average 8 hours per working day are not exceeded within a reference period of 6 months or 24 weeks. An uninterrupted rest period of 11 hours after daily work must be guaranteed.

4. Overtime

Overtime pay and overtime surcharges are not expressively regulated by law but are subject to the employment agreement, collective bargaining agreements or works council agreements. For board members and managing directors, any overtime worked, is generally deemed to be already remunerated by their normal salary.

5. Holidays

By statute, German employment law grants employees who work a five-day workweek, 20 working days of paid leave per calendar year. However, it is more typical for an employee to receive between 25 and 30 days of holiday per calendar year, depending on seniority and the type of business.

6. Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Healthy and Safe Workplace

As the employer has the organizational control of his business site and the employees are exposed to the dangers of the workplace, the employer is obliged to provide a healthy and safe workplace.

If the employer does not fulfill the rules of occupational safety, the employees are entitled to refuse to work at the workplace. Furthermore, the employee is also entitled to demand that health and safety regulations are observed and may claim compensation for any damages. Also the works council and the German administrative authorities may insist on the fulfillment of the applicable health and safety regulations.

For more information on these articles or any other issues involving labour and employment matters in Germany, please contact Tobias Pusch, Partner at Pusch Wahlig Legal (www.pwlegal.net) at pusch@pwlegal.net
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