Yes, if you have a residence permit under Section 24 (1) of the Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz). As soon as a provisional residence document is issued in accordance with Section 24 (1) of the Residence Act, you are entitled to work. This document issued by the foreigners authority must contain the text “gainful employment permitted” (“Erwerbstätigkeit erlaubt”). You can then undertake, in principle, any kind of employment in Germany or begin vocational training. Please note that there are access restrictions for some professions under professional law (e.g. doctors, teachers, educators; more information can be found in the section on the recognition of professional qualifications). You can also work for a temporary agency.
You are also able to start your own business or work as a freelancer. Every industry has specific requirements that need to be taken into account when starting a business. These may include professional law regulations, special licences and insurance law issues.
If you meet the requirements, you can also apply for a residence permit for the purpose of employment or training at the local foreigners authority.
If you want to work in Germany in the occupation you are qualified for, recognition of your qualification obtained outside of Germany is only required for (information in German and English). These professions include, for example, doctors, architects and teachers.
You can work in without having your qualifications recognised. The state has not established any requirements for entering these professions. Recognition of your professional qualification can nevertheless be very helpful in finding a position in line with your skills and for receiving a salary commensurate with your qualifications.
Your local employment agency (Agentur für Arbeit) or jobcentre (Jobcenter) can give you initial information about the recognition process.
You can obtain further objective advice on the recognition of your professional qualifications acquired outside of Germany free of charge from the advisory offices of the support programme “Integration through Qualification (IQ)”. You can find your nearest advisory office here: (in German and English). The advisory offices will also support you in searching for training options if the outcome of the recognition procedure is only partial equivalence of your qualification.
Yes, there is a general statutory minimum wage in Germany. Since 1 October 2022 the gross minimum wage has been 12 euros per hour.
The minimum wage generally also applies to internships, except for mandatory internships as well as voluntary internships accompanying professional training or studies and orientation internships of up to three months’ duration.
Compliance with the minimum wage and der industry-specific minimum wages is supervised by Finanzkontrolle Schwarzarbeit [Financial Control of Undeclared Employment], which is part of the German Customs Service.
Yes, the general minimum wage applies to all workers. There are only exceptions for those under 18 years of age who have not completed vocational training and for those who had been unemployed for a long time in the first six months of employment.
In general, you are not allowed to work for more than eight hours per day from Monday to Saturday. However, an extension of the working day to up to ten hours is possible if you do not exceed eight hours per working day on average within half a year. In addition, exceptions are permitted in certain sectors.
If you receive regular monthly remuneration that does not exceed a level of 520 euros (Geringfügigkeitsgrenze), this is known as a "mini-job". If your employment is limited to three months or seventy working days per year from the beginning and – if the monthly remuneration exceeds 520 euros – is not of a professional nature, this is considered short-term employment. Both of these cases are regarded as “marginal employment” (geringfügige Beschäftigung). In future, the level for marginal employment (Geringfügigkeitsgrenze) will rise with the minimum wage.
As a worker in marginal employment, you are insured against accidents at work and occupational diseases in the statutory accident insurance scheme. However, you are not covered by the statutory health insurance system, long-term care insurance system or the unemployment insurance system. Workers with so-called “mini-jobs” are generally subject to pension insurance, making pension contributions amounting to 3.6 per cent of their salary (13.6 per cent if they are employed in a private household). It is possible to apply for an exemption from compulsory pension insurance. The application must be given to the employer.
In terms of labour law, you have the same rights as those in full-time employment. For example, you are entitled to the statutory minimum wage, paid annual leave, and continued payment of wages in the event of illness and on public holidays, as well as maternity benefit top-up payments.
For more information about the possible effects on social benefits, see the answer to the question “Can I keep my own funds when I apply for social benefits?”.
If you are employed in a job which pays you gross monthly earnings of between 520.01 and 2,000 euros, then you have what is known as a “midi-job”. Midi-jobs require both employee and employer to pay social insurance contributions on behalf of the employee. These contributions are paid into the insurance systems that provide health care, long-term care, unemployment benefit and pensions.
The contributions paid by the employee range from zero percent (for the lowest paying midi-jobs) to the normal statutory percentage rate (for the highest paying midi-jobs). Although the percentage rates of these contributions may be lower than those for regular employees, they nevertheless entitle you to receive full benefits from the health care, long-term care, unemployment and pension insurance schemes, in line with your gross monthly earnings.
Important information on your rights as an employee in Germany can be found (in German) on the . In the event of specific labour or social law issues, e.g. you believe that your employer is not paying you an adequate wage, you can contact the advisory centres of Fair Integration. The advice is free of charge and available in many languages, in some cases also in Russian and Ukrainian. Here, you can find (in German) an .
Please note, especially if you are not (yet) very familiar with the German labour market:
A lack of language skills or knowledge of the law, together with uncertainties about access to the labour market and the provisions of residence law, can sometimes lead to people ending up in exploitative work situations. You can find useful information about your rights on the website of the .
The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have made a flyer available with information about possible risks for refugees when looking for jobs, which provides important practical tips:
People who work must be safe, and work is not allowed to put people’s health at risk. In Germany, employers are required to protect their employees effectively from risks and damage to their health. This binding principle is enshrined in the Safety and Health at Work Act (Arbeitsschutzgesetz) and other occupational safety and health ordinances.
You can turn to:
- Employers, who are legally obliged to ensure effective safety and health measures;
- Workers’ representatives (works council, trade union);
- Company physicians.
If you are unable to work for health reasons, you must get an official certificate confirming your incapacity for work from your doctor. On 1 January 2023, the electronic certificate of incapacity for work replaced the paper certificate.
Now, your doctor sends your incapacity for work certificate in digital form to your health insurer. Your employeagain is obligated to contact your health insurer to access your electronic certificate. This means that you no longer need to worry about submitting your incapacity for work certificate to your employer. This applies to all workers, including people in marginal employment.
However, you still need to inform your employer about your sick leave so that they can start the process of contacting your health insurer and accessing your certificate.