FAQ Special forms of work
The Customs Administration’s Central Information Unit provides general information on obligations to cooperate, submit notifications, keep records, or other obligations under the Minimum Wage Act (Mindestlohngesetz), the Posted Workers Act (Arbeitnehmer-Entsendegesetz) and the Act on Temporary Employment Businesses (Arbeitnehmerüberlassungsgesetz), compliance with which is monitored by the unit within the Customs Administration (Zollverwaltung) which is responsible for enforcing the law on illegal employment and benefit fraud. The Central Information Unit’s contact details are as follows:
Central Information Unit (Zentrale Auskunft)
Tel.: +49 (0)351 44834-510
Fax: +49 (0)351 44834-590
You can also obtain information from the Minimum Wage Hotline run by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Tel.: +49 (0)30/60 28 00 28.
These two points of contact are not able to offer detailed advice on individual cases. If you need detailed advice because of a concrete problem, you can consult a lawyer. You can also contact the “Fair Mobility” advisory centres run by the German Trade Union Confederation (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund). Use our search tool to find an advice centre near you.
This project’s central contact point is based in Berlin:
The question of whether you are working on a self-employed basis or as part of an employment relationship does not depend solely on which term is used in your contract, but rather on how your work is organised and carried out in practice. An employment relationship exists if one person (the employee) is engaged, in a relationship of personal dependence, to perform work on behalf of another (the employer) in accordance with instructions and without control of the work involved. The instructions involved can relate to what work is carried out how, when and where. Individuals are subject to instructions if they are not essentially free in determining their work and their working time. To identify whether an individual is employed rather than self-employed, it is essential to look at all circumstances on a case-by-case basis.
For example, the following criteria indicate that you are an employee:
- You carry out instructions given by the other party to your contract,
- You are unable to freely determine when and where you work,
- Rather than having your own business premises, you work solely in the premises of the organisation in question, in accordance with the organisation’s work processes,
- You only have one client,
- You charge for your work by the hour.
If you are unsure whether or not an employment relationship exists, you should seek advice. This is important because it makes a big difference whether you are working as an employee or on a self-employed basis: if it turns out that you are actually an employee, your employer must pay arrears of the social security contributions (pension, long-term care, health and unemployment insurance) which would normally have been incurred. Usually, half of the social security contributions are deducted from the employee’s gross pay (employee contributions). You must bear this in mind if you claim employee status. However, your employer is only permitted to deduct the employee contributions for the last 3 months, at most.
In addition, as an employee you can retroactively claim the following rights regarding your employer:
- the right to sick pay,
- the right to at least 4 weeks’ paid leave per year,
- protection against dismissal in accordance with the Unfair Dismissal Protection Act (Kündigungsschutzgesetz), and potentially in accordance with other provisions which protect pregnant women and people with severe disabilities from dismissal.
If you are self-employed and are issuing an invoice, it has to include the following information:
- the full name and address of your business,
- the full name and address of the invoice recipient,
- the place and date,
- your tax number (Steuernummer),
- the invoice number, i.e. one or more digits, letters or a combination of both which you assign as a unique identifier for that invoice,
- the scope of the service or work,
- the net sum being invoiced in euros,
- value added tax (known as Mehrwertsteuersatz or Umsatzsteuer; it is normally 19 per cent) and the amount of tax in euros,
- if you are exempt from paying value added tax (if your turnover is 17,500 euros or less a year), you should explicitly state that you are exempt,
- the date by which payment should be received,
- your complete and correct bank account details.
In individual months, earnings may exceed € 450. The determining factor is that, calculated over the duration of the marginal employment, the average wage does not exceed € 450 per month or € 5400 per year.
If the marginal employment in the above example lasts for three months, with a monthly payment of € 200, € 50 and € 550, the average wage below € 450 remains at € 266.66 per month (€ 200 + € 50 + € 550 = € 800: 3).
If you have a mini-job, you can apply to be exempt from pension insurance. The application must be submitted in writing to the employer, who must forward it to the mini-job centre. If the mini-job centre does not object to the application within one month, the application for exemption is approved (a notification of the exemption does not have to be issued).
Several marginal employments are added together. Like marginal employment, you must not exceed the average monthly income of € 450.
A posting contract is not a separate employment contract; it merely supplements the existing employment contract by specifying how long the employee will spend working abroad.
The posting contract should also specify:
- what duties the posted worker must carry out abroad,
- who his or her supervisor will be,
- the person to whom he or she will report,
- where applicable, how much additional pay he or she will receive while working abroad,
- whether the employer will meet or contribute to the costs of supplementary health insurance for the period abroad,
- to what extent the employer will cover relocation expenses, travel expenses or accommodation costs for the employee and his or her family members, and
- the continuation of the posted worker’s employment after his or her return.