Labour law

Employment contract

In a German employment contract, a number of details should be included as standard:

  • Name and address of the employer,
  • Date of start and possibly end of the contract,
  • Probationary period and duration of the probationary period,
  • Place of work,
  • Working hours,
  • Holiday leave,
  • Period of notice,
  • Amount of wages

It is common that, just as in Belgium, confidentiality and other relevant aspects, such as termination periods, are regulated in the contract.

Employees with a disability (with a severely disabled person’s card) enjoy protection against dismissal. An employer can only dismiss a disabled worker with the consent of the so-called ‘Integration Office’.

Pregnant women and mothers also have extra protection against dismissal, often in return for a temporary reduction in income. Protection against dismissal for pregnant women lasts until 4 weeks after the birth. The maternity protection period starts 6 weeks before the planned date of birth and 8 weeks after the actual birth. Working longer before the birth does not extend the period after the birth, unlike in Belgium. This maternity leave period can be longer if there are multiple births, for example.

In most employment contracts, a probationary period of 6 months is agreed, with a notice period of 2 weeks.


Wages are determined by collective agreements or individual employment contracts. From 1 January 2021, the statutory minimum wage for everyone aged 18 and over will be € 9.50 (from July 2022: € 10.45). In many sectors, a collective agreement applies and a higher minimum wage may be provided. Exceptions apply to certain groups, including younger people up to 18 years of age and disabled people.

Collective agreements

Collective agreements do not automatically apply to all workers in a sector, as in Belgium, but only to those who are members of the German labour union that negotiated the agreement. It also applies only to employers who are members of the collective bargaining association. However, many employers still follow it.

In collective agreements, the number of holiday days for most employees is higher than the statutory number.

Sick note

In the event of illness, the employee must inform the employer as soon as possible that he is ill and how long this is likely to last. This is included in almost all employment contracts and collective agreements. Failure to report an illness correctly may result in you being dismissed without notice.

Parental leave and parental benefit

If you work in Germany, you are entitled to German parental leave. This is an unpaid leave of absence from work and is possible until your child reaches the age of three. During this time, you remain covered by social security in Germany, as your employment contract continues.

From the day of birth, you can claim basic parental benefit for a minimum of two and a maximum of 12 months if you do not work or do not work more than 30 hours (32 hours for children born from 09/2021 onwards) per week during this period. You can find additional information here or consult the BMFSFJ brochure.

Notice period

An employment contract can be terminated by the employee with a notice period of 4 weeks to the 15th of the month or to the end of the month. Periods before the age of 25 are not taken into account when calculating years worked.

Employers are subject to longer notice periods than employees with an employment relationship of two years or more:

Duration of employment relationship Notice period
0 – 2 years old 1 month
2 – 5 years old 2 months up to the end of the calendar month
5 – 8 years old 3 months up to the end of the calendar month
8 – 10 years old 4 months up to the end of the calendar month
10 – 12 years old 5 months up to the end of the calendar month
12 – 20 years old 6 months up to the end of the calendar month
From 20 years 7 months up to the end of the calendar month

The notice of termination must be in writing, but it does not have to be delivered by registered mail. It can also be delivered in person.

Caution: If you wish to take legal action against the dismissal, you only have 3 weeks from the week in which you became aware of the dismissal.

Labour unions

If you are a member of the CSC-ACV or FGTB-ABVV labour union in Belgium, you can be granted legal protection in Germany by the DGB.