How Germany works

Working in Germany.
© Getty Images/EmirMemedovski

Working at the office from 9 to 5? That’s a thing of the past. Here you can discover different work models that exist in Germany alongside traditional full-time employment.

People’s working lives in Germany are much more varied today than they were just 20 or 30 years ago. Because life plans are changing, flexible working models are becoming more important.


After at least six months of employment in an enterprise with more than 15 employees, people in Germany have the right to reduce their weekly working hours. Today some 15 million Germans work part-time – 20 years ago the total was only half that number. One reason for this is that more  with children are returning to work part-time. The problem here is that many remain “trapped” in part-time employment, because they are later unable to obtain a full-time job. That’s why new legislation on the return to full-time employment will apply from 2019.


Two colleagues share a job and its salary, duties and working hours. There are no current figures on how common job sharing is in Germany. Some 85 percent of the firms questioned in a survey by the Tandemploy website evaluated this model as positive.

Deutsche Welle: Jobsharing – an Employment Model with Potential?

Deutsche Welle: Jobsharing – an Employment Model with Potential?
Deutsche Welle: Jobsharing – an Employment Model with Potential? ©


No permanent employer and no fixed working hours: freelancers work independently and pay all their own contributions towards medical, pension, sickness and unemployment insurance. According to figures published by the , there were roughly 1.4 million freelancers at the beginning of 2017. Their number has more than doubled since 1999.


The number of people with several jobs is rising in Germany. While there were roughly 1.9 million people with more than one job in 2014, the Federal Employment Agency counted almost 3.3 million people in multiple employment in 2017.


Many employees value occasionally working from home to avoid long journey times, to  or to concentrate more on their work. A study by , Germany's digital association, found that 39 percent of businesses in Germany enable their employees to withdraw to their “home office”. Roughly 11 percent of all employees work partially from home.


Many businesses allow employees to start work more flexibly rather than keeping to a rigid 9 to 5 working day. Usually, however, there is a core period, during which enough employees must be present.

The article was originally published  and was republished with permission from

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