You have made it through your job interview and are about to sign the corresponding employment contract? Congratulations! Let's take a look at what you should keep in mind when reading through the contract.
There are essentially two types of employment contracts: temporary and open-ended. As you can likely guess, temporary contracts are limited to a fixed period of time. This limitation is only permitted under the preconditions specified in Germany's related legislation (Teilzeit- und Befristungsgesetz). In order to be limited to a particular period of time, temporary contracts must be finalized in writing. If the limitation is not included in the language of a given contract when it is signed, the contract will be considered open-ended.
An employment contract serves as the basis upon which the two parties involved are required to fulfill certain duties.
For employees, such duties include:
- Carrying out one's tasks
- Following the employer's directives
- Maintaining one's integrity (never revealing company secrets or accepting bribes, for example)
- Not working for the employer's competitors (under certain conditions)
Employers, meanwhile, must fulfill the following obligations:
- Paying employees for their work
- Transferring social insurance contributions to the relevant authorities
- Providing vacation time
- Provide their employees with sufficient work
- Providing for their employees' welfare and
- Issuing work references
Further rights and obligations, such as continuing to pay employees when they are ill or observing notice periods, may also be stipulated by labor law or collective labor agreements rather than in employment contracts.
Every work contract should include at least the following provisions:
- The names and addresses of the parties involved
- An official designation and a general description of the activity in question
- The starting date and duration of the contract
- The duration of the probationary period (six months at most)
- The employee's remuneration
- The employee's annual vacation time
- References to any collective labor, company, or works agreements that apply to the contract
- In the case of temporary contracts: the duration of the contract
An employment contract also specifies the employee's regular working hours. These are defined as the time the employee spends at work, not including breaks. In the case of shift work, contractual working hours are divided into sections of the day that change periodically. An employee's relaxation time includes breaks (during working hours), rest periods (at the end of the employee's daily working hours), and paid vacation.