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.
You can work in without having your qualifications recognised. The state has not established any requirements for entering these professions. Nevertheless, having your professional qualifications recognised is very helpful in finding a job that matches your skills.
Your local employment agency (Agentur für Arbeit) or jobcentre (Jobcenter) can give you initial information about the recognition process.
Further free, impartial advice on the recognition of your foreign qualifications can be obtained from the counselling centres of the funding programme “Integration through Qualification (IQ)”. You can find the here: (in German and English).
Yes, there is a general statutory minimum wage in Germany. The gross minimum wage is currently 9.82 euros per hour and will increase to 10.45 euros per hour on 1 July 2022. A further increase to 12 euros gross per hour is planned, starting on 1 October 2022.
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.
In addition, sector-specific minimum wages exist in some sectors. They apply only in the sector in question, for example in the care sector or building cleaning.
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 450 euros, 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 450 euros – is not of a professional nature, this is considered short-term employment. Both of these cases are regarded as “marginal employment” (geringfügige Beschäftigung).
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?”.
You can find important information concerning your rights as a worker in Germany on the . In case of a concrete problem, e.g. if you believe that your employer is not paying you a sufficient wage, you can contact a “Fair Integration” counselling centre. Their advice is free of charge and available in many languages, including Russian and Ukrainian at some of the centres. Here you can find 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 .
In addition, the Berlin Advisory Centre for Migration and Decent Work (BEMA) has produced leaflets on labour rights for Ukrainian refugees in Ukrainian, Russian, English and German.
What rules on occupational safety and health are applicable in Germany? Who can I contact about them?
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.