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Labour law: Working hours, vacation, illness, notice

Working hours

The working hours Act regulates and sets the framework from shift work to breaks for employees.

Who ever takes over a full-time Job, has to calculate with working hours, that range between 37,5 and 40 hours per week. It is also possible to work part-time. The maximum working time that is statutory allowed is limited to an average of 48 hours. Generally you work from Monday to Friday. It is permissible by law to work on all business days of the week (Monday to Saturday) as well as during night- and shift work. In many areas, like for instance in healthcare, catering and in transportation companies, working is also allowed during Sunday’s and public holidays.

The Working Hours act takes care of the security and health protection of the employees: According to this act it is obligatory to make a break of at least 30 minutes when working for 6 hours. From a working time of 9 hours onwards the break time increases to 45 minutes.


Every employee has the right to have vacation! That's the way the Federal Vacation Act (BurlG) is phrased. After having been employed for six months in a company, employees are entitled to the full statutory vacation. Entitlement to at least 4 weeks of vacation has an employee who has worked 5 to 6 days a week. The Federal Vacation Act specifies 24 work days, however, it also counts Saturday as being a work day. Who ever works 5 days a week has as such an entitlement to 20 days of vacation.


You have to report in immediately if you are ill and cannot work. However, a sick note from a physician has to be presented, not later than on the fourth day of the absence.

The full salary is paid by the employer for illnesses that lasts 6 weeks. For illnesses that last longer, the sick benefit (70% of the salary) is paid by the statutory health insurance. If you are privately health insured, you have to inquire at your health insurance company. Private health insurances may have other rates as which percentage is paid.

You don’t have to disclose any exact information concerning your illness to your employer!


In general the work contract can be cancelled. The employee as well as the employer can give notice. In both cases this has to be done in written form. Relevant for a notice are the regulations of the German Civil Code (BGB).

The statutory period of notice increases, the longer you have worked for the company. This is valid if the employer has terminated the employment. In opposite to the employer, the employee is able to give notice with a deadline of only 4 weeks to the end of the month or the 15th, independent of how long the work contract has existed.

There is a special form of dismissal protection. This is valid among others for pregnant women, mothers and work council members.

Your can find general information concerning labour law on the website of the Federal Ministry for Work and Social Affaires, under www.bmas.de

Detailed information for refugees who want to work in Germany successfully can be found in the booklet „Wissen ist Schutz vom DGB-Bundesvorstand“ Knowledge is Protection:

Knowledge is protection! To find the Guideline for EU Citizens in multiple languages click here.

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