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WORKING IN GERMANY

EXPLAINED: The rules in Germany around ‘mini’ and ‘midi-jobs’

So-called “mini-jobs” are widely used in Germany so employers can bring on part-time employees - whose smaller earnings are then generally exempt from tax. But how does the scheme work?

A person pouring a beer.
Lots of people who work in the hospitality industry have mini-jobs. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Angelika Warmuth

Germany introduced mini-jobs in 2002 as a way for employers to get part-time workers more easily, and for those same workers to enjoy the flexible working arrangements part-time work can sometimes offer, with certain exemptions from tax.

But Germany’s complex social welfare setup means taking and declaring mini-jobs isn’t always straightforward. We break down the most common questions.

What are mini and midi-jobs?

Mini-jobs are designed to be casual side jobs for earning a little extra income. They can be particularly attractive for students, but mini-jobbers come from all walks of life.

Workers can’t earn more that €450 a month from their mini-job, or work more than 70 days at one mini-job in a year. Shorter-term mini-jobs, such as seasonal work around Christmas holidays or in summer, are possible but cannot exceed three consecutive months in a year.

Retail stores or bars that need a little extra help during a busy period are some of the most common mini-job providers, but mini-jobs exist in almost every sector in Germany. The German Retail Association estimates that over 800,000 people work mini-jobs across the country.

Jobs where someone earns between €450 and €1,300 per month are known as “midi-jobs.” They’re another category of part-time work in Germany where the worker doesn’t quite make enough to be subject to full obligations – and protections – under German labour law. Unlike mini-jobs, they are subject to certain rules on tax and social security contributions on a “sliding scale.”

Although the current monthly income limits are €450 for mini-jobs and €1,300 for midi-jobs, the newly elected federal government has plans to increase these amounts to €520 and €1,600, respectively.

READ ALSO: Wages, rent and pensions: What will the new German government mean for your wallet?

What rights and obligations do mini-jobbers have?

In Germany, employees typically pay social security contributions as a portion of their income deducted from their monthly pay. A worker’s company also pays into these contributions, which cover both an employee’s public health insurance and their pension insurance.

Certain freelancers, such as musicians, artists, and writers, can make these contributions through the German Artists Social Insurance Fund (Kunstlersozialkasse). Mini-jobs are exempt from this, meaning neither the worker nor the employer have to pay these contributions, making mini-job income largely tax exempt.

A mini-jobber’s employer will typically take off a flat tax of two percent of gross income off the employee’s pay and send the money to the government. In many cases, this is all the tax a mini-jobber will have to pay.

The flip side of this is that mini-jobbers have no recourse to unemployment insurance, for example. A Federal Labour Court has also recently ruled that mini-jobbers are not entitled to wage compensation if the business they’re working for has to close due to Covid-19 restrictions. Mini-jobbers are also not entitled to Kurzarbeit benefits—a German scheme where companies receive public money to help pay their workers in return for not laying them off.

READ ALSO: Job news in Germany: Mini-jobbers lose out in Covid closures and VW layoffs

In areas that don’t involve tax and social security contributions, mini-jobbers enjoy broadly the same rights and obligations as other part-time employees. These include protections against wrongful dismissal, continued payments if the worker’s child gets sick, and renumeration for working on a Sunday or public holiday.

They are also covered by the employer’s insurance if an accident happens either at work or on their commute. Mini-jobbers also receive paid vacation days that are prorated based on how much they work relative to a full-time employee.

They must also be paid the statutory minimum wage (currently €9.60, but the government wants to raise this to €12 by the end of the year). Germany’s recent “3G” rule for workplaces, where employees must be vaccinated, recovered, or present a recent negative test for Covid-19 when showing up to work, also applies to mini-jobbers.

READ ALSO: German employers weigh up legal challenge to €12 an hour minimum wage

What if a have a mini-job alongside my regular one, or if I work more than one mini-job?

A worker in Germany who has a job where they pay regular social security contributions can hold a mini-job on top of this but will typically need the consent of their main employer. Someone working more than one mini-job will be exempt from having to pay social insurance contributions up to the first €450 they earn a month. They’ll typically have to pay tax and social insurance on anything they earn on top of this, even if it comes from another mini-job.

A “midi-jobber,” or someone who is earning between €450 and €1,300 per month, must typically pay tax and social security contributions on whatever income they earn that’s over €450, with the first €450 being exempt. Social insurance contributions on money earned that’s between €450 and €1,300 per month are typically reduced though. On the flip side, a midi-jobber will be entitled to certain levels of pension and unemployment insurance that a mini-jobber is not.

Can you hold a mini-job while receiving unemployment benefits?

Yes, but you must notify your local Jobcentre before you take on the mini-job. If you don’t, your benefits could be reduced. Furthermore you can only work less than 15 hours a week, or will no longer be considered unemployed. You will also not be able to keep most of the income you earn above €100 a month, depending on what unemployment benefit you are receiving.

Vocabulary

Mini-jobs/midi-jobs or marginal employment – (die) geringfügige Beschäftigung

Part-time workers – (die) Teilzeitbeschäftige

Side job – (der) Nebenjob

Sliding contribution scale – (die) Gleitzone

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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IMMIGRATION

FDP party pushes for points-based immigration in Germany

Germany’s liberal FDP party is pushing for the introduction of a points system based on the Canadian model to tackle the country's shortage of skilled workers.

FDP party pushes for points-based immigration in Germany

Germany has been struggling to fill its lack of skilled workers for some time now and in the first quarter of this year, the labour market shortfall reached record levels.

To tackle this problem, the FDP party – one of the three parties in the traffic light coalition government –  is pushing for a points system based on the Canadian model to be introduced as soon as possible. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The German industries ‘most affected’ by skilled worker shortage

“Canadian experience shows that more than 60 percent of immigrants are gained via this route,” FDP party vice chairman Johannes Vogel told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “That’s why we must by no means neglect the path of so-called self-organized immigration in the new set of rules.”

It’s understood that a points-based system such as what Vogel describes, could mean that immigration would be permitted without the need for a concrete job offer, which has so far been required by German immigration law. Instead, the system would award points based on factors such as a high level of education, young age, and good language skills.

In July, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser and Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (both SPD) presented key points for immigration law reform, on which the traffic light parties had agreed to in the coalition agreement.

Vogel said that he thought this “first step” was good, but that the proposed entry possibilities in the event of a job offer should also be supplemented by a points system.

READ ALSO: ‘Appointments in English’: How Germany wants to attract talent from abroad

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