A statutory minimum wage of 9.19 Euros per hour 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, e.g. the construction sector. Most of these regulations contain a minimum wage above 9.19 Euros per hour. The contractual freedom of the parties to determine the remuneration by mutual agreement, is limited by public policy. A salary of less than two thirds of the relevant usual wage is contrary to public policy and such an agreement is generally considered to be void. The minimum wage of currently 9.19 Euros per hour will be subject to further increase within the next year. It will increase to 9.35 Euros per hour from 1 January 2020.
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. There are no opting-out provisions under German law.
For regular employees, it is not possible to deem any overtime compensated by the regular remuneration. However, it is possible to contractually agree that overtime of 10 – 20 % of the regular working time shall be deemed as compensated by the regular remuneration. For board members and managing directors, any overtime worked, is generally deemed to be already remunerated by their normal salary.
Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Healthy and Safe Workplace
The employer is obliged to set up and maintain all rooms, devices and equipment and to organise the work in a way that the employees are protected against any possible harm. However, the regulations on a healthy and safe workplace depend on the type of industry sector and on the degree of danger faced in the specific workplace.
If the employer does not fulfill the rules of occupational safety, the employees are entitled to refuse to work at the workplace without losing their claim to remuneration. 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 applicable health and safety regulation.