Ansicht auf ein leeres Büro mit zwei gegenüberstehenden Schreibtischen © Goethe-Institut


In the first few days in your new workplace you will get to know your new colleagues and your job. You can often address your colleagues informally after a few days (using the German “du”). Things are different when it comes to your superior, the boss. Formal terms are almost always used in this case – the German “Sie” form of address. However this varies depending on the company. 

Employee protection

In Germany there is an employee protection policy: the company has to adhere to certain regulations regarding health and safety for its employees. For instance these include designated workwear, regular breaks and working hours. Large companies have an employee representation body, a works council. If you have a problem you can speak to the works council. The works council will then talk to your boss.  

Eine Kellnerin hat ein Tablett mit Gläsern in der Hand, im Hintergrund sind sitzende Personen zu sehen. © Goethe-Institut

Working hours and holiday

The working hours depend on your profession. For instance as a nurse based in a hospital you work shifts: sometimes you work in the morning, sometimes evenings or nights. In an office your working hours are mostly regulated. You start in the morning and finish your working day after 8 or 9 hours. Offices often also have flexitime, i.e. you have flexible working hours. For instance you can start at 8 or 9 in the morning and leave earlier or later in the evening. Every job has at least one break, frequently a lunchbreak of 30 or 60 minutes. People usually work 38 – 40 hours per week.

Every employee has a specified amount of holiday in the year. You must request your annual leave and your boss must approve it. You can often take your holiday when you want to. But sometimes you cannot take holiday because there is too much work to be done in the company. Sometimes you have to take leave because the whole company is on holiday, which is the case in some companies at Christmas, for instance. You continue to receive your wages/salary during your annual leave. If you are off sick, you must inform your employer immediately and go to the doctor. The doctor issues you with a doctor’s certificate for your employer. You must hand the certificate in to the company as soon as possible. Employers frequently do not need a doctor’s certificate until you have been on sick leave for three days (see “Health” page).  


In some professions you have to wear specific clothing for work, for instance on a building site to protect you from injury. Sometimes you also have to wear a uniform, for instance if you work at an airport. Or you have to wear a T-shirt with your company’s logo on it. This enables the customer to see that you are an employee.

Mehrere Köche arbeiten in einer Restaurantküche. Sie tragen Kopftücher und Kochjacken. © Goethe-Institut


If you are no longer able or willing to work for the company, you have to hand in your notice. Notice is always given in writing. And there is a period of notice. Normally the period of notice is 3 months.

Further and continuing education

If you are already taking a training course or a course of studies and have worked for a certain amount of time, you may continue your education. This will deepen, expand and update both your knowledge and skills. Audit education centres particularly offer a wide range of opportunities.

Eine Frau sitzt an einem Tisch in ihrer Wohnung und telefoniert. Auf dem Tisch liegen Papiere und ein Laptop. © Goethe-Institut

#MyJob – insight into everyday working life

Many people come to Germany to work here. In which professions do they work? What does their working life look like? The series #MyJob introduces some of these people and their everyday working life.

Ashgan Korhani

#MyJob with Ashgan Korhani: “I like that there are so many possibilities here”

Cristina Faraco Blanco

#MyJob with Cristina Faraco Blanco: “These projects bring meaning to life”

Get to know other interesting people who have come to Germany to live and work:
Goethe-Institut - Deutschland #NoFilter


Video International Sign

Frequently asked questions

Further questions? Write us via the contact form. We will forward your questions anonymously to the advisors of the youth migration services.

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