Before signing a job contract in Germany, whether it’s your first job or a switch from your previous one, You need to consider some important things. As you’ve completed the steps of applying, interviewing, and receiving a job offer, and now you’re at the final stage: signing the employment contract. To ensure you have all the necessary information and understand what to pay attention to what exactly are you getting into!
Do this before Signing a Job Contract in Germany
Your Job Contract in Germany
Your Job contract in Germany is like the roadmap for your professional adventure, holding great importance for both you and your employer. It sets out two key responsibilities:
- You have to work
- Your employer has to pay a salary for the work
Obviously there are sections and sub clauses in the contract, further defining these two things.
Salary Negotiation and Equal Pay
When it comes to negotiating your salary, timing is crucial. It’s best to have these discussions well before signing your employment contract. As history has shown that securing salary increases later on can be quite challenging.
However, there are certain job situations where this approach may not apply. For instance, if you’re aiming for a position in the public sector, or jobs in a Specific Tariff there is no room for salary Negotiations. These Include, the TVöD/TVL contracts and the IG Metall tariff among others.
Equal Pay for Women in Germany
When It comes to equal pay, it’s a fundamental right for female employees to receive the same compensation as their male counterparts for work of equal value.
If men and women in the same role are receiving different wages, it is seen as prohibited discrimination based on gender. It’s important to note that just because a male colleague negotiated a higher salary, it doesn’t mean a woman in a comparable position should receive less money.
However , this assumption can be challenged with valid arguments, such as professional experience or training. So please be careful.
Minimum Hourly Wage in Germany
You boss is legally bound to pay you at least the Minimum wage. Exceptions apply for students on Thesis positions where a fixed amount of Salary is provided or a Mandatory Internships where employers can even choose not to pay you at all. In all other cases the Minimum wage in Germany at the moment is €12.41 and will increase again in 2025.
|Minimum Hourly Wage
In addition to your salary, you Job Contract in Germany also contains specific information on
- Start and End of the Contract, like is it a Permanent contract or for a specific period of time.
- Place of work, like is the job on Site, or is it a hybrid model. In case of hybrid model, what are the tools provided to you for your home office?
- The weekly or Monthly working Hours
- Vacation details
- The probation and Notice Periods
Is a written job contract required in Germany?
Usually, an employment contract is used to formalize a job, although it may not always be legally necessary. Surprisingly, you can sign an employment contract through various means, including email or a digital signature. In fact, you can even agree verbally!
However, if your employer fails to provide you with a written contract, they are still obligated to give you something in writing. This document should outline the essential terms and conditions of your employment, accompanied by your employer’s signature . It’s crucial for your employer to meet this requirement because, in case of any disputes, they will need to prove in court the oral agreements they made with you.
Is a Job Contract Legally binding in Germany?
The Job Contract in Germany must have information provided under the Evidence Act. It must also be given to employees in a written form, not just through email. It should include the employer’s or authorized representative’s signature. Failure to meet these requirements can lead to fines for the employer.
For fixed-term employment contracts, written form is always required. An oral agreement for a fixed-term contract is not legally valid. Both parties must physically sign the contract by hand. A digital signature is not sufficient for a fixed-term employment agreement.
Job Description and Performance Expectations
When it comes to your employment contract, it must not provide the details of every single thing you have to do. The broader the description of your responsibilities, the more flexibility your employer has in assigning you different tasks.
On the flip side, a more detailed job title and description make it easier for you to decline tasks that don’t align with your qualifications. It’s beneficial to have a general job designation, like “Engineer” clearly specified in the contract. You can take cues from the job advertisement to better describe your position.
Under the guidelines of the Evidence Act, it’s important that a concise written description of the work you’ll be performing is included. It’s worth noting that your employer cannot unilaterally assign you to a lower-paid position.
You are an Employee not a Robot
As an employee, you are not obligated to achieve specific work outcomes. Instead, your responsibility is to perform to the best of your abilities under reasonable conditions.
If your employer is dissatisfied with your performance, they may consider termination based on behavioral or personal grounds. However, they must provide evidence that your performance has been significantly inferior compared to an average employee with similar tasks over an extended period.
Deciding Place of Work in Job Contract
Your primary place of work is where you’ll be performing your job duties. Usually, this means working at your employer’s premises. However, your employment contract may provide opportunities to work in various locations, including different cities, countries, or even other branches of the company.
If you have any concerns or preferences about where you work, it’s important to discuss them openly with your employer and engage in negotiations.
According to the Evidence Act, the place of work should be documented in writing. If you’re not tied to a specific location, the contract should indicate that you have the flexibility to work in different places or even choose your own place of work.
Suppose you want to work from home for a certain number of days each week. In that case, it’s advisable to include this arrangement in your employment contract. The contract should clearly state that you have the option to perform your work from a home office and should specify the number of days allowed for remote work.
Paid Vacation in Germany
Your job contract typically specifies the number of vacation days you’ll receive each year. According to the Federal Holiday Act, the minimum requirement is at least 20 working days for a five-day week.
However, it’s quite common to have 30 days or even more. In fact, some employers may even offer additional vacation days that increase as you stay with the company. The good news is that negotiating for extra vacation days is a possibility, allowing you to potentially exceed the legal minimum.
Paid Vacation for Part Time Employees in Germany
If you work part time. you can be entitled to the same number of vacation days as colleagues who work full-time. But you have to work every working day of the week. So it’s not the hours you work that matters, but the days . Anyone who works 20 hours a week does not automatically have half the vacation days as a full-time employee.
According to the Federal Holiday Act, your full entitlement to vacation days kicks in six months after starting a new job . As a new employee, you start acquiring vacation entitlement during the probationary period, specifically one twelfth of the annual vacation for each month.
Permanent and Temporary Job Contracts in Germany
When it comes to employment contracts, having a permanent one is usually better than a fixed-term contract. However, there are certain industries and employers that often offer temporary positions to new hires.
Temporary Job Contract in Germany
Temporary contracts have a specific duration mentioned in them. They are commonly used when there’s a valid reason, like covering for an employee on parental leave. This type of contract allows flexibility for employers to fill in short-term staffing needs.
Fixed-Term Job Contract in Germany
If your employment contract has a limited duration, it’s usually accepted if there’s an objective reason behind it. For example, filling in for someone on leave or assisting with a temporary project. These reasons justify the use of a fixed-term contract.
In cases where there isn’t an objective reason for a fixed-term contract, it can typically last for up to two years. This time frame provides some flexibility for employers in managing their workforce. After the contract ends, employers may reconsider and offer a permanent position if the circumstances allow.
Part Time Work in Germany
Working fewer hours than full-time colleagues makes you a part-time employee. It’s important to clearly specify your weekly working hours in your contract. Especially if you need to balance work with family, sports, or studies. Part-time employees in Germany generally receive the same treatment as full-time employees, including legal protections and benefits.
Probation Period in Germany (Probezeit)
When you start a new job, there’s usually a probationary period mentioned in your contract. It’s like a trial period for both you and your employer to see if the job is a good fit. For example, “The first six months of your job are considered a probationary period.
During this time, either you or your employer can end the contract by giving a two-week notice. If your contract doesn’t talk about a probationary period, it means you don’t have one, and your employment starts right away.
Some contracts have a smaller probation period of 3 months, and some job contracts even have a clause that extends the probation period.
Extension of Probation Period in Germany
An extension of the probationary period is generally possible with the consent of the employee, but is “legally” ineffective. Despite extending the probationary period, the employer can only terminate the contract with four weeks’ notice .
In addition, the employee is always protected by the Dismissal Protection Act after six months. Even if the probationary period has been extended. This means that the employer can no longer end the employment relationship so easily. However there are cases where you employer can Terminate your job contract without notice even after the probation period is over, which I discuss in this my detailed guide.
Disclaimer: None of the content in this article is meant to be considered as investment advice, as I am not a financial expert and am only sharing my experience with stock investing. The information is based on my own research and is only accurate at the time of posting this article but may not be accurate at the time you are reading it.