German Employment Law for Expats
ZELLER & SEYFERT specializes in advising expats in Germany in relation to Employment Law. Knowing your rights and legal entitlements in the workplace is already a complicated issue in an expat’s native country and language, so navigating the intricacies of the German labor legal system can be a hugely stressful and complex task. This is especially true regarding the differences relating to German employment law, workplace rights, and labor law, with said laws having a direct effect on the rights of any expat in full or part-time employment. We at ZELLER & SEYFERT are here to help guide you as both German Employment Law specialists and expat-friendly attorneys.
Employment Law Topics for Expat Clients
We proudly represent our expat clients as specialized German Employment Law attorneys. Throughout our years of experience, we frequently deal with the following types of Labor and Employment Law disputes:
- In ascertaining if our client has jurisdiction before the Labor Courts or Employment Courts in Germany.
- To ascertain if the far-reaching German Employee Protection Rights, e.g. the Dismissal Protection Act, apply in favor of our client.
- To ascertain if a Top-Level Executive, Managing Director, C-Level Officer (CEO, COO, CFO, CTO), or Board Member can make a claim under German Labor Law or German Employment Law.
- Whether or not you can be terminated under German Law or if you can claim a severance payment.
- And if so, how much severance pay or other benefits (severance package) you can claim.
- To assist in deciding if you should sign a cancellation or termination agreement, or should you file a complaint before the competent Labor Court or Employment Court.
- Whether you should seek a settlement agreement or enforce your rights through a court judgment.
- If an Employment Contract is valid under German Law and if all necessary legal requirements have been met.
- If you can claim bonus payments, other flexible payments, or further benefits under the German Employment Contract.
- If you may be assigned another job that is not the one you have been hired for.
- Whether a post-contractual non-compete agreement is permissible and whether your employer is obliged to pay 50% of your last income.
- If you may be held liable by your employer just for performing on the job (Management Liability).
- If a temporary agency license or labor lease license is needed under German Employment Law or Labor Law.
- If the benefits you receive under the company pension scheme are sufficient or if an adjustment may be claimed.
And so much more…
Costs and deadlines regarding German Labor Law and Employment Law
Clarity regarding fees is a highly important topic within our law firm. Accordingly, we immediately discuss with our clients the costs of any possible legal action, or of filing a lawsuit or complaint (legal fees, attorney fees, court fees, etc.) before the relevant German Labor Court or Employment Court. We also discuss the relevant deadlines, such as the crucial 3-week deadline after the delivery of the termination notice.
One of the major topics currently for British expats in Germany is the possible impact of Brexit on their employment. The question of what happens to the employment of British expats in Germany after Brexit is one that has been asked to our firm many times since the vote in 2016 and, more recently, since the UK actually left the European Union at the end of January 2020. Certainly, if you have a question or concern about the implications of Brexit on your residence status, contact us via the details below.
SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
The pandemic has had a devastating effect on virtually all aspects of German society, with the employment sector being hit especially hard. These troubled times have left many with great uncertainty over their employment prospects, exponentially impacting the expat community. Knowing your rights and options at this time is therefore highly important but coming to terms with and understanding the intricacies of German Employment Law is a difficult proposition. With this in mind, we have explained some of the options available to the expat community relating to the Coronavirus crisis in these articles:
- Coronavirus Termination – A new threat
- Kurzarbeitergeld in Germany
- Kurzarbeitergeld Fraud: Am I receiving my full entitlement?
- Kurzarbeitergeld for Temporary Workers
- Can my employer force me to get vaccinated?
Should you have questions relating to these articles, or any other questions relating to the impact of Coronavirus on your employment, please do not hesitate to contact us by online submission or by the contact details below.
III. Residence regulations for (employed) skilled workers from third countries
1. Skilled workers (professionals) with completed training (vocational training or studies)
Pursuant to § 18a or § 18b(1) of the Residence Act, a residence permit may be issued to a skilled worker for the purpose of pursuing a qualified occupation for which the qualification they have acquired qualifies them. The requirements for the visa or residence permit are:
- There is a concrete job offer.
- Approval for employment has been granted by the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) in accordance with § 39 (2) of the Residence Act.
- In the case of an educational qualification from abroad, the equivalence of vocational training or the comparability of the foreign university qualification must have been established. As a rule, this must be proven by a certificate of recognition issued by the competent recognition authority in Germany.
- If a licence to practise a profession is required (in the case of regulated professions), it must be available or promised at the time of application.
- For persons over 45 years of age, proof must be provided of an adequate retirement pension or a gross salary of at least 55% of the annual contribution ceiling in the general pension scheme must be paid.
The residence permit for skilled workers in accordance with § 18a or 18b of the Residence Act is issued for a period of four years. If the employment relationship is limited to a shorter period, the residence permit is issued for that period. If the conditions for issuance continue to be met, the residence permit can be extended or a permanent residence permit may be issued.
2. The EU Blue Card for Academic Professionals
The EU Blue Card pursuant to § 18b (2) of the Residence Act applies exclusively to skilled workers with a university degree recognised as equivalent or a German university degree. To obtain an EU Blue Card, the following requirements must be met:
- There is a concrete job offer for employment that is appropriate to the qualification.
- If a license to practise a profession is required (in the case of the regulated professions), this must be available or promised at the time of application.
- Annual gross salary amounting to at least two-thirds of the annual contribution ceiling in the general pension insurance scheme.
- For employment in certain occupational groups, the required salary limit is lower in the general pension scheme, at least 52% of the annual contribution ceiling. This applies, for example, to medical professionals, specialists in engineering, natural science and mathematics, and IT. In such cases, unlike in the general case, the approval of the Federal Employment Agency is required.
In principle, the EU Blue Card is issued for a maximum of four years. If the conditions for issuance continue to be met, the EU Blue Card can be extended. If the duration of the employment relationship is less than four years, it shall be issued for the duration of the employment contract plus three months.
3. Special case: IT specialists with practical professional knowledge from third countries
There is a special rule for the recruitment of foreign IT specialists, according to which applicants from third countries receive the approval for employment by the Federal Employment Agency in the IT sector, without the need for formal recognition of their qualifications by a competent recognition body in Germany (§ 19 (2) in conjunction with § 6 of the Employment Regulation (BeschV)).
The following requirements must be met:
- The applicant can demonstrate at least three years of professional experience in the IT sector within the last seven years, which corresponds to the qualification level of an academic specialist.
- The applicant should demonstrate the appropriate qualification by successfully participating in theoretical training or relevant IT examinations.
- The gross annual salary must be at least 60% of the annual contribution ceiling in the general pension insurance scheme.
- The applicant has at least B1 level of German knowledge based on the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). In individual cases, proof of German language skills may be waived, e.g. if it is not absolutely necessary for the potential job.
4. International students and graduates of German universities as potential for skilled workers
After successfully completing a degree in Germany, university graduates from third countries are allowed to stay in Germany in order to look for qualified employment. They are granted a residence permit for up to 18 months to look for a job in Germany (§ 20 Para. 3 No. 1 Residence Act).
In addition, international students from third countries may obtain a residence permit for another purpose during or even before graduation in Germany, in accordance with § 16b (4) of the Residence Act:
- Taking up employment as a skilled worker (§ 18a; 18b of the Residence Act) or on the basis distinct practical professional knowledge (§ 19c Para. 2 of the Residence Act): Students may be sufficiently qualified to take up a qualified job without completing their domestic studies on the basis of previously acquired degrees or with the knowledge and skills acquired so far. In such cases, the purpose of residence may be changed if there is a concrete job offer. Upon application, the skilled worker will be granted a residence permit to pursue qualified employment.
- Admission of qualified vocational training (§ 16a of the Residence Act): This enables foreign students to switch to dual vocational training, e.g. if there is an offer of a training place, the corresponding residence permit can be issued upon application.
If you are planning on pursuing self-employment in Germany and do not want to go through the application procedure for the residence permit on your own, or simply have any further questions in this regard, we would be happy to help you.
We also support companies in the planning of assignments of foreign skilled workers as well as the specialists themselves who need legal support.