A Quick Snippet of German Labor Laws

Germany has a different system for workers than the US, this is just a quick insight into what rights a normal worker would be entitled to receive. Germans tend to follow the same M-F work week, but on Sundays and public holidays, only necessary workplaces (gas stations, hospitals, police, etc.…) are open. Most grocery stores and all other work are closed. The average working time an employee has can’t exceed 8 hours per day with most employees working 35-40 hours a week. Employees are given a minimum of 20 working days’ vacation per year, but on average receive 25-30. There is a mandatory social security system in place that provides health care, home care, nursing insurance, pension insurance, and unemployment insurance. There is a strict termination law in place that requires the workplace to give anywhere from 4 weeks to 7 months notice which must be written with the employer’s signature.

Parents are given the protection of full paid maternity leave for 6 weeks prior to the due date and 4 months post-childbirth. Parents are also allowed a maximum of three years per child parental leave. They don’t have to be paid during this time and are allowed to work part-time at their workplace, but they are not allowed to be fired. German law prohibits the discrimination of employees based on gender, religion, political beliefs, etc.… These have been implemented by the General Equal Treatment Act which prohibits direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, and instruction to discriminate. Employees have the right to lodge complaints with the company and also have a right to refuse performance if inadequate measures are taken.

In companies with over 500 employees, 1/3 of the board must be employees and in companies with over 2000 employees ½ of the board must be employees. When getting hired at a workplace, the employer must give you an employment contract including the details of employment no later than one month after the start date. There is a federal minimum wage of 12 euros per hour.

Within a company, rank and hierarchy are extremely important. There is also lots of female representation but there still is inequality regarding pay and beliefs on what jobs women should do. It is really important in Germany to protect the employees and provide adequate resources to support them. It would be interesting to see if the U.S. could improve its work-related regulations by looking at other countries’ policies and statistical evidence to improve it.

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