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How to Hire Employees in Germany

One of Germany’s key strengths is its highly skilled and well-educated workforce. The country’s emphasis on education and skills development has resulted in a pool of talented and diverse professionals proficient in English and other languages. This skilled labor force enables effective communication within global companies, promoting international business operations. Learn more about Hiring in Germany in this guide.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding German labor laws and compliance is essential for companies wanting to hire employees in Germany.
  • Consider utilizing PEOs or EORs to simplify HR processes and ensure legal compliance.
  • Carefully navigate work permits and visa requirements for hiring foreign employees in Germany.
  • Be prepared for mandatory social security contributions and employee benefits that impact hiring costs in the country.

Additionally, Germany offers competitive corporate tax rates, a network of Double Taxation Agreements, and various industry-specific tax incentives, enhancing its financial appeal to businesses. Germany consistently ranks well on global indices for ease of business, providing a business-friendly regulatory environment.

Germany’s digital readiness is another advantage for businesses. The country has high technology adoption rates and fosters an innovation-friendly atmosphere, making it conducive for both traditional and technology-focused companies to operate efficiently.

For companies interested in hiring employees in Germany, we offer comprehensive information on how to navigate the process quickly and cost-effectively, ensuring a smooth entry into the German market.

Hiring Employees in Germany — Overview

Germany is an appealing destination for businesses seeking to hire employees due to its highly skilled and diverse workforce. Employment regulations in Germany are overseen by the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, and the country has a comprehensive legal framework governing employment contracts, employee rights, and employer obligations. The legal requirements for hiring non-European Union (EU) or non-European Economic Area (EEA) employees involve obtaining work permits and residence permits, which are contingent on meeting specific qualifications and demonstrating efforts to hire EU/EEA citizens first.

Note that Germany has a moderate to high cost of living, which affects salary expectations. Salaries in Germany are typically competitive on a global scale, but they can be higher than in many other countries, reflecting the country’s high living standards and strong social welfare programs. The personal income tax rate in Germany is progressive, with rates ranging from 0% to around 45% for individuals as of my last update in September 2021. Additionally, Germany has a mandatory social security system where both employees and employers contribute to statutory health insurance, pension, and unemployment insurance. This system applies to both German citizens and foreign residents working in Germany.

Despite the higher cost of living, Germany’s workforce is known for its high level of productivity and engagement. The country’s economic stability and growth prospects create a favorable environment for businesses looking to hire and expand operations in Europe.

German Labor Law — Key Requirements

Key things you need to know before employing workers in Germany, include:

  1. Employment Regulations: Familiarize yourself with Germany’s labor laws and regulations, including employment contracts, working hours, and employee rights.

  2. Work Permits and Residence Permits: Understand the requirements and procedures for obtaining work permits and residence permits for non-EU/EEA employees.

  3. Salary Expectations: Be prepared for competitive but relatively higher salary expectations due to Germany’s cost of living and strong social welfare programs.

  4. Personal Income Tax: Be aware of the progressive personal income tax rates in Germany, which vary depending on income levels.

  5. Social Security Contributions: Understand the mandatory contributions to statutory health insurance, pension, and unemployment insurance for both employees and employers.

  6. Language Proficiency: Assess the language proficiency of your employees, as German is commonly used in the workplace, especially for administrative tasks.

  7. Cultural Considerations: Familiarize yourself with German business culture and etiquette to facilitate smooth interactions with employees and clients.

  8. Hiring Efforts: Demonstrate efforts to hire EU/EEA citizens before seeking non-EU/EEA employees to comply with immigration requirements.

  9. Legal Compliance: Ensure compliance with all relevant German employment laws and regulations to avoid legal issues.

  10. Economic Environment: Stay informed about the economic stability and growth prospects of Germany to make informed business decisions.

Each of these areas contains its own complexities and nuances, so it would be wise to seek professional advice when hiring employees in Germany for the first time.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire Employees in Germany?

The cost of hiring employees in Germany encompasses various factors that employers need to take into account:

  1. Salary: The average salary in Germany varies significantly based on the job position, industry, experience, and qualifications of the employee. As of 2023, the average salary in Germany is approximately €3,800 per month, but this figure can vary widely depending on the specific role and industry.
  2. Social Security Contributions: Both employers and employees are obligated to contribute to Germany’s social security system, which covers healthcare, unemployment insurance, and pension funds. The combined contributions typically amount to around 40-45% of an employee’s gross salary.
  3. Income Tax: Germany has a progressive income tax system, with rates ranging from 0% to approximately 45% for individuals. Employers are responsible for withholding and remitting income tax from their employees’ salaries.
  4. Health Insurance: Health insurance is mandatory for all employees in Germany. Employers are required to contribute to the cost of health insurance premiums for their employees.
  5. Pension Contributions: Employers must make contributions to employees’ pension funds as part of the social security system.
  6. Unemployment Insurance: Employers also contribute to the unemployment insurance fund, which provides benefits to employees in case of job loss.
  7. Recruitment Costs: Expenses related to recruitment, such as job advertising, using recruitment agencies, and the time spent on the hiring process, should be factored into the hiring cost.
  8. Training and Development: Investing in employee training and development programs is crucial for improving skills and productivity. The cost of training varies depending on the nature and duration of the program.
  9. Employee Benefits: These may include additional benefits like health insurance, bonuses, allowances, paid leave, and more. The extent of these benefits can vary based on the company’s policies.
  10. Work Permits and Visas: When hiring foreign employees, companies must consider the costs associated with work permits, visa applications, and other immigration-related expenses.

These are the primary factors that contribute to the cost of employing workers in Germany. It’s essential to keep in mind that the specific costs can fluctuate significantly depending on various factors, including the industry, company size, and the particular job role. Additionally, government incentives or subsidies may be available to offset some of these expenses.

What is the Best Way to Hire Employees in Germany?

There are several ways to hire employees in Germany, each with its own benefits and considerations. Here are some of the main methods:

  1. Direct Hiring: This is the most straightforward method where you recruit and hire employees directly through a legal entity in Germany or a registered branch of your company. Direct hiring gives you full control over the hiring process but also comes with the responsibility of complying with German labor laws and regulations.
  2. Professional Employer Organization (PEO): A PEO in Germany provides comprehensive HR solutions for businesses. When you hire through a PEO, they handle HR tasks such as payroll, employee benefits, tax compliance, and risk management, while the employee works for your company. This can be especially helpful for navigating the complexities of the German labor market.
  3. Employer of Record (EOR): Similar to a PEO, an EOR in Germany becomes the legal employer and manages all employment-related tasks, including compliance with local labor laws, payroll, and benefits administration. EOR services are valuable if you want to hire employees in Germany without establishing a physical presence there.
  4. Contracting/Freelancing: Hiring contractors or freelancers in Germany offers flexibility, especially for short-term projects or specialized skills. However, it’s crucial to ensure compliance with German regulations regarding contract work and self-employment to avoid legal issues.

Each of these methods has its own advantages and challenges. The choice among them should be based on your specific needs, business goals, and compliance requirements in Germany. 

What are the Key Steps to Hire Employees in Germany?

Hiring employees in Germany involves several key steps to ensure compliance with labor laws and establish a smooth employment process. Here are the key steps to hire employees in Germany:

Setting Up

  1. Register Your Business: Ensure your company is legally registered in Germany or has a registered branch or subsidiary.

  2. Determine Employment Type: Decide whether you will hire employees directly, through a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), or an Employer of Record (EOR), or if you’ll be hiring contractors/freelancers.

  3. Draft Employment Contracts: Prepare written employment contracts that outline the terms and conditions of employment, including job roles, responsibilities, working hours, compensation, and benefits.

  4. Compliance with Labor Laws: Familiarize yourself with German labor laws and ensure your employment contracts adhere to these regulations.

  5. Social Security Registration: Register your employees with the German social security system, which includes health insurance, pension, and unemployment insurance.

  6. Taxation and Payroll Setup: Set up payroll and ensure that income taxes and social security contributions are correctly withheld and remitted.

  7. Employee Benefits: Determine and provide any additional benefits, such as health insurance, pension contributions, and other perks required by law or as part of your employment package.

  8. Work Permits and Visas (if applicable): If hiring foreign employees from outside the EU/EEA, arrange for the necessary work permits and visas, ensuring compliance with immigration laws.

Ongoing Compliance

  1. Employee Onboarding: Conduct a thorough onboarding process that includes introducing new hires to company policies, procedures, and workplace culture.

  2. Payroll Administration: Maintain accurate payroll records and ensure timely payment of salaries, taxes, and social security contributions.

  3. Employee Registration: Register your employees with the local labor office and tax authorities to fulfill legal requirements.

  4. Health and Safety Compliance: Ensure compliance with workplace safety regulations and provide a safe working environment for your employees.

  5. Termination Procedures: Familiarize yourself with the legal requirements for terminating employment contracts in Germany, including notice periods and severance pay where applicable.

  6. Employee Rights and Benefits: Stay informed about employee rights, such as minimum wage, paid vacation, and sick leave entitlements.

  7. Consult Legal and HR Experts: Seek guidance from legal and HR experts with knowledge of German employment law to ensure compliance at every step of the hiring process.

  8. Reviewing Compliance: Continuously monitor and update your employment practices to remain compliant with evolving labor laws and regulations in Germany.

Navigating the process of hiring employees in Germany can be complex due to its comprehensive labor laws and regulations. Therefore, it’s advisable to seek professional guidance and legal counsel to ensure compliance and a successful hiring process.

Hire Employees in Germany — With the Right Partner

Germany presents a vast land of opportunity for hiring. Some of the top locations include:

CityIndustry Strengths
Universities (Top 3)
MunichAutomotive, Life Sciences, Aerospace, ICT
Technical University of Munich (TUM), Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU), Munich University of Applied Sciences (MUAS)
BerlinStartups, ICT, Healthcare, Creative Industries
Humboldt University of Berlin, Free University of Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin (TUB)
FrankfurtFinance, Banking, Insurance, Legal Services
Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
HamburgLogistics, Shipping, Aerospace, Media
University of Hamburg, Technische Universität Hamburg (TUHH), HafenCity University Hamburg
StuttgartAutomotive, Mechanical Engineering, Manufacturing, Electronics
University of Stuttgart, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences
DüsseldorfFashion, Retail, Trade Fairs, Consulting
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, University of Duisburg-Essen, Bergische Universität Wuppertal
CologneMedia, Marketing, Tourism, Life Sciences
University of Cologne, Cologne University of Applied Sciences, TU Dortmund University
LeipzigBiotechnology, Automotive, Logistics, Creative Industries
University of Leipzig, Leipzig University of Technology (HfT), Leipzig Graduate School of Management
HanoverIndustrial Automation, Energy, Trade Fairs, IT
Leibniz University Hannover, Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts, TU Braunschweig
NurembergMedical Technology, Electronics, Mechanical Engineering, Toy Manufacturing
Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Nuremberg Institute of Technology (NIT), Georg-Simon-Ohm University of Applied Sciences


Hire in Germany with a German PEO or German EOR Provider

diagram showing how to hire employees in Germany through an EOR

Hiring employees in Germany requires a comprehensive understanding of German employment regulations, market dynamics, and cultural factors that influence the labor market. To facilitate the hiring process in Germany, many companies may find value in engaging with a German PEO (Professional Employer Organization) or utilizing a German EOR (Employer of Record) service.

Explore our guides on German PEO and German EOR solutions to identify the top PEOs and EORs in Germany that can assist you in navigating the complexities of the German labor market effectively.


Hiring employees directly involves establishing a legal entity in Germany and managing all HR and compliance aspects independently. On the other hand, PEOs and EORs in Germany offer comprehensive HR solutions, handling payroll, tax compliance, benefits, and employment contracts, which can be especially valuable for businesses without a physical presence in the country. The choice depends on your business needs and the level of control you desire.

Hiring foreign employees in Germany typically requires obtaining work permits and visas. The specific requirements vary based on the nationality of the employee, job role, and duration of employment. To ensure compliance, consult with legal experts who specialize in German immigration laws and work closely with relevant authorities during the visa application process.

In Germany, employers are obligated to provide benefits such as health insurance, pension contributions, and unemployment insurance. These contributions can add up to a significant portion of an employee's total compensation package. It's crucial to factor these costs into your budget when hiring in Germany, as they directly impact the overall cost of employing workers in the country.