Work in Germany from A to Z

Last update: 9th Jan 2024
Published: 2nd Feb 2023

Have you found a job in Germany or are you just thinking about it? What should you know before travelling to Germany for work?

Employment contract

According to German law, an employment contract (Arbeitsvertrag) must be concluded in writing if the employment relationship is of indefinite duration. Otherwise, or in the case of a fixed-term employment relationship, the employment contract may also be oral. Your employer does not, however, have to draw up an employment contract in your mother tongue. If you do not understand it, be sure to have it translated before you sign it.


Salary is one of the main points that must be included in your employment contract. This is also the reason why we recommend that you conclude a written employment contract with your employer. Germany ranks among the countries with a high minimum hourly wage, which increases as follows:

YearMinimum hourly wageMonthly (168 hours) wages
From 1. 1. 2024€12,41€2 085
1. 10. 2022 - 31.12.2023€12€2 016
1. 7. 2022 – 30. 9. 2022€10,45€1 755
1. 1. 2022 – 30. 6. 2022€9,82€1 649
2021€9,50€1 596

Working hours

The working hours are 8 hours per day. Part of the working time is a 30-minute break, which you are entitled to after six hours of work at the latest. If your working time is less than 6 hours, you are not entitled to a break. Remember that in Germany, Saturdays are also considered a working day.

Trial/probation periods

The trial period can last from 3 to 6 months, with the upper limit usually applying for long-term employment.


The legal minimum holiday entitlement is 20 days per year. Full entitlement to holiday does not accrue until six months' service has elapsed. Vacation during the probationary period is possible by agreement with the employer.


Work in Germany versus tax return

Are you required to file tax return in Germany? What are the requirements for filing a tax return?

Work in Germany versus tax return

Health/Social Insurance

In principle, you sign up for health insurance in the country where you work. For Germany, you must take out health insurance as soon as you sign the employment contract (ideally before you sign the employment contract). The choice of health insurance company is up to you, and you can choose from around 145 insurance companies. You will then inform your employer of your choice of health insurance company to which he will pay your health insurance contributions. Germany has two types of health insurance. The first is legal health insurance, which is open to all. Private health insurance is the second type, to which only a person with a gross monthly income of more than €5,755 is entitled.

Health insurance is part of social security, which includes the following types of social insurance:

  • pension insurance,
  • unemployment insurance,
  • long-term care insurance.

Social security contributions in 2024:

Type of insuranceEmployer's contributionEmployee's contributionTotal
Health insurance7,3%7,3%14,6%1)
Retirement insurance9,3%9,3%18,6%
Unemployment insurance1,3%1,3%2,6%
Long-term care insurance1,7%from 0,7%2)from 2,4%
1) Since 2015, the health insurer can determine an additional health insurance contribution. Its average rate is 1.6% and is shared equally between employee and employer.
2) The amount of the child benefit is determined by the number of children. For employees without children, the rate is 2.3%.

You will receive a certificate of registration with the social security system from your employer at the beginning and at the end of your employment. Keep it carefully, as it serves as confirmation of periods of employment.


Inform your employer of your illness as soon as possible by phone or email. If you are unable to work, you are entitled to sickness benefits or Krankengeld. From 1 January 2023, the doctor will no longer issue a paper sickness certificate to the employee, as the system has been digitised electronically.


Everyone who stays in Germany for more than 6 months in a calendar year has to pay income tax. As an employee, income tax is automatically deducted from your salary.

At the same time, if your employment relationship lasted longer than 6 months, you are obliged to file a tax return in Germany. This obligation does not arise if you are in tax class I. However, in this case it is to your advantage to file a voluntary tax return to claim a tax refund on your wages.

Recognition of diplomas

You may need to apply for official recognition of your qualifications, which of course depends on the profession.

We are happy to help you not only with the translation of your contract, but also with your tax refund or tax return.

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