If you are employed in Germany, you are normally required to be insured in the German social insurance systems.
Your employer is required to register you under social insurance law. This means that your employer must provide the following information to the health insurance fund in question:
- your name,
- your address,
- your insurance number,
- your nationality,
- your pay and information about your job.
This ensures that your employer remits the social insurance contributions. You must give your employer all of the necessary details and information to enable it to comply with its obligations. In this respect, you have an obligation to cooperate.
Please note: Your employer must give you a copy of the information it has submitted in the notification process. In the case of a violation of the notification requirements, both you and your employer can face sanctions.
In some sectors, the employer must submit a notification even before you take up employment:
- in the construction sector,
- in restaurants or hotels,
- in freight forwarding companies,
- in the freight transport industry and associated logistics sector,
- in the industrial cleaning industry, and
- in the meat industry.
This means that you have an obligation to cooperate by providing the necessary information even before you take up employment, and you must always have your identity document with you in case checks are carried out.
More information on the notification and contribution procedure is available from . The health insurance funds also offer information on their websites.
Tip: When you are registered for social insurance, you will receive a social insurance number (Sozialversicherungsnummer), which you will keep throughout your life. Your social insurance number is used to collect and hold the information required for you to receive a pension. Take care not to lose this number.
Germany’s social security system provides protection against the major risks in life. If you have a job in Germany with compulsory social insurance coverage, you are normally a member of the following statutory insurance systems:
- Statutory health insurance (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) covers the costs of doctor’s appointments and many medicines and treatments.
- Statutory long-term care insurance (gesetzliche Pflegeversicherung) offers basic provision for the event that you become dependent on long-term care as a result of illness.
- Statutory accident insurance (gesetzliche Unfallversicherung) covers the costs of medical treatment and occupational reintegration after an accident at work or in the case of occupational diseases. It funds a wage replacement benefit while you are unable to work and a pension if your health is permanently damaged, as well as benefits for surviving dependants.
- Statutory unemployment insurance (gesetzliche Arbeitslosenversicherung) provides an income while you are looking for work, subject to certain conditions, and provides support in the form of advisory and placement services.
- Statutory pension insurance (gesetzliche Rentenversicherung) provides rehabilitation benefits and pays old-age pensions, reduced earning capacity pensions, or pensions to your surviving dependants in the event of your death.
Membership of these social insurance systems costs a fixed percentage of your income. You pay part of the costs and the remainder is paid by your employer. The costs are deducted directly from your wages.
German Pension Insurance (Deutsche Rentenversicherung) has an audit office which checks every four years, if not more frequently, whether employers are correctly calculating and paying social security contributions for all employees. If suspicions exist concerning a specific case, this office can carry out audits at short notice.
The Customs unit responsible for enforcing the law on illegal employment and benefit fraud also monitors compliance with the notification obligations. You can find more information about how Customs monitors illegal employment on its .
If an employer does not comply with its stipulated notification, contribution or record-keeping obligations, this is considered illegal employment (Section 1 (2) no. 1 of the Act to Combat Undeclared Work and Illegal Work (Schwarzarbeitsbekämpfungsgesetz)). If an agency finds that payments have not been made correctly, the employer must subsequently pay the contributions, plus a late fee for the contributions which were initially not paid correctly.
In addition, the employer can face a fine of up to 50,000 euros (Section 111 (1) of Book IV of the Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch), Section 8 of the Act to Combat Undeclared Work and Illegal Work). In some cases, the employer can also be convicted of a criminal offence (Section 266a of the Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch)). It is a criminal offence for employers not to pay your share of social security contributions or their own share.
If an employee fails to comply with his or her obligation to cooperate and provides false, inadequate or late information, a fine of up to 5000 euros can be imposed (Section 111 (1) no. 4 of Book IV of the Social Code, Section 8 of the Act to Combat Undeclared Work and Illegal Work).
If the Customs Administration needs information from you in order to check whether your employment is legal, you must provide this information. For example, you must produce time sheets or other documents showing your working hours and the nature of your work.