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The labour market in Germany

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Before going to work in Germany, is it important to be aware of its labor market's requirements. Here is an overview. 

With a constantly decreasing unemployement rate and an economy which is recovering rapidly from the 2009 economic and financial crisis effets, it is no longer difficult for foreign nationals to find jobs in Germany. In fact, with an ever growing industrial production, large exportations worldwide and quality working conditions, Germany remains an attractive destination for those wishing to start or continue a career abroad.  

The unemployment rate is around 4.9% of the total workforce in Germany, mainly affecting rural areas and eastern regions of the country. Major German cities like Berlin, Munich or Frankfurt centralize most economic activities and a large part of the industry and service workforce. 

Specificities

Fluency in German is an essential prerequisite to take up employment in the country, unless you are detached from a foreign company established in Germany, or employed in an agriculture or unskilled job. A good knowledge of English is also desirable if you want to work in a large exports-based company. 

Best job opportunities are to be found in the tertiary sector, health and social services and in the industry. 

For working holiday visa holders and foreign students, job opportunities are available in the tourism sector (winter and summer) and in several seasonal activities such as picking fruits or grape harvesting. 

Labor conditions

Regarding working conditions in Germany, the legal working time is set at 48 hours maximum per week. Collective labour agreements in German companies may reduce the working time to 35 to 40 hours per week. There is no minimum wage per se in Germany, each enterprisecompany sets its own salary scales according to collective labor agreements and based on ability, skills and experiences of each worker. In practice, several building trades have introduced minimum wages. Note that the average wage in Germany is of about € 2,590 per month, that is some € 31,090 yearly. However, the German government has voted, last July, for the introduction of a minimum salary of € 8,80 per hour, that is around € 1,400 per month.

German employees benefit from 24 holidays per year, bank holidays and weekends excluded, but may benefit from additional holidays if specified in their employment contract or in the collective agreements. 

For more information about employment in Germany, or to find out more about the legal framework and the latest labor legislation, visit the "Bundes Agentur für Arbeit" website (National Employment Agency) or the "Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziale" website (German Ministry of Labor).

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4 Comments
beppi
beppi
last year

The newly introduced minimum wage, which applies to most (but not all) types of jobs and employment situations, is €8.50/hour. Please note that this is before tax and deductions, which might take 30-50% off this in some cases. A full-time job at this minimum wage is thus barely above the poverty line (approx. €800/month) for a single person and not sufficient to feed a family.

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beppi
beppi
2 years ago

The average wage in Germany is now around EUR2500/month (2014).

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Melanie56
Melanie56
3 years ago

2000 euro per months netto brutto? as young people is more like 1500. 2,2 unemployement isn\'t the reality there is a lot of hartz iv, part ime job, mini job and mother at home germany isn\'t a paradize

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amassettati
amassettati
5 years ago

Hi everybody, I do not agree with the negative situation described from HERVER, but on the contrary I can say that the Unemployment rate is sinking in Germany and there are areas in wich you can find the 2,2 % of Unemployment! These areas for are for exemple Bavaria and Baden Württemberg. The only difficulty is that most of employers want people that speak German. This is where I find most difficulties. I work for a Company of termporay staff and Search and selection and I can tell you how difficult is to find skilled people in Germany. The Industry is going really well and we need constantly specialised Workers in the production.

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