Answer ... Yes, the Minimum Pay Act stipulates a nationwide hourly minimum wage for all employees of €9.19 gross (since 1 January 2019). From 1 January 2020, this will increase to €9.35 gross.
In addition, specific minimum pay regulations apply in certain industries or to certain positions on the basis of collective bargaining agreements.
Answer ... In many cases, overtime pay and its method of calculation are stipulated in employment contracts, collective bargaining agreements and/or works council agreements. However, the German courts will grant an entitlement to overtime pay to employees even where such an explicit clause does not exist. According to the courts, only employees whose annual remuneration exceeds the social security contribution ceiling (€80,400 gross) are not entitled to be paid for overtime, unless this has been explicitly provided for.
Furthermore, the Federal German Labour Court has recently held that employees are in principle entitled to be paid for their travel time, unless the parties have specifically agreed on different terms. In the case decided, the employee was claiming payment for time spent on a flight from Germany to China.
Answer ... Pursuant to the European directives, the Federal Holiday Act provides for minimum annual holiday leave entitlement. The number of holidays depends on the number of working days per week and amounts to four days per working day (ie, 20 days of annual leave for employees with a five-day working week).
However, the vast majority of employment contracts and collective bargaining agreements provide for a more generous annual leave entitlement – usually between 25 and 30 days per year for employees with a five-day working week. If the contractual offer falls significantly short of that, the company will find it difficult to attract qualified staff.
During holiday leave, employees are entitled to continuation of pay (calculated as the average daily pay over the 13 weeks before commencement of the holiday) – including all fixed and variable benefits, but excluding overtime pay.
Employees are further entitled to continuation of pay if a public holiday falls on one of the employee’s regular working days. Depending on the region in Germany, this can add another nine to 13 days of paid leave per year.
Answer ... According to the Sick Leave Pay Act, employees who have been employed for at least three weeks are entitled to continuation of pay in the event of sickness, as long as this does not exceed six weeks per year. However, entitlement to continuation of pay might apply for significantly longer periods if the sick leave is taken for different medical reasons.
While this is relatively generous, employers may terminate the employment relationship on the grounds of sick leave if the number of sick leave days taken becomes too high (see further question 5.1)
Answer ... The general statutory retirement age is 67. However, as the retirement age was increased some years ago, it might be some months less for older employees under a transitional rule.
Furthermore, women and severely disabled employees may retire some years earlier without financial disadvantages.
Employment beyond the retirement age is not prohibited by law; nor do employment relationships automatically end on retirement age. Instead, termination of the employment upon reaching retirement age must be agreed in writing. Otherwise, the employer must have a valid reason to give notice to the employee (see question 5.1); reaching retirement age in itself does not constitute a valid reason.