My German mini-job story
I arrived in Germany to study without knowing anything about mini-job opportunities.
But, like many other students, I wanted to work during my studies.
On the one hand, I wanted to do it to get some hands-on experience and try working in a multicultural environment. On the other hand – I wanted to earn some extra pocket money.
In the beginning, I didn’t know a lot of important details about what exactly it meant to have a mini-job in Germany.
I thought, literally, it was a “small job”, or a “job that pays you little money”. Haha.
While that held true, I wish I had done a little more research about what exactly a mini-job was.
As I discovered later, not only students are looking for mini-jobs in Germany.
A lot of expats who come to Germany to find a full-time job, also work part-time until they receive their dream full-time job offer.
I don’t know why it surprised me, but Germans, of course, also have mini-jobs.
Sometimes it’s their only income, sometimes they have a mini-job in addition to their normal, full-time job (saving money on tax!).
Why would you do that?
Well, I can tell you. When I got a mini-job, I always got 450 Euros. Every month. I was told that was the maximum amount before it was taxable.
In other words. No matter if I had an additional job earning me, e.g., 1500 Euros or 2000 Euros – I would always get 450 Euros for my mini-job. This is because the German mini-job always arrived at my bank account with tax deducted already.
What I can say for sure is that all of these aspects were new to me. But they seemed very important, especially in terms of the complex German bureaucratic system.
I thought it’s worthwhile sharing the insights I’ve gained. So that you won’t waste time surfing through the internet or getting into some troubles.
So. What exactly is a mini-job in Germany?
Let me share my own experience with you.
#1 What is a German mini-job?
Having a mini-job in Germany means to have any kind of legal employment with a maximum monthly salary of 450 Euros– that was the first thing I learned about this job type.
And not one Euro more!
Why is that important and what conditions come attached with that?
For me accepting the mini-job meant that the company I worked for did not have to pay for insurance obligations. This made the salary cheaper for them. They paid about 600 Euros, and I got 450 Euros after all tax got deducted.
They told me that if I got 460 Euros a month, they would have to pay around 700-800 Euros. The moment they paid me more than the mini job allowance of 450 Euros, the company will pay for my social security insurances! If it is 450 Euros or less, then I have to pay for them.
This was good for them. They were a young startup company. So it allowed them to hire someone. But they did not have enough money to spend 800 Euros each month, they only had 450 Euros for that.
The mini job was created to help small companies and shops to hire employees more quickly. And to make it more flexible. It is also good for the employees because it means you can always have a quick mini-job in addition to your normal job if you want to get an ‘extra’ 450 Euros pocket money.
So, an advantage for me was that I could also get another full-time job later. This other job would pay my insurance – I would get these 450 Euros as a sort of pocket money, that just did not have anything to do with my other income. For my employer, it was a big plus was that he didn’t have to spend extra money paying taxes for a person who only works part-time.
Mini-job, is this just an easy way to fire someone quickly?!
So what I suspect is… a mini-job is also convenient because the employer can fire you quickly. It sounds harsh, but in a way I understand.
If you do not resign voluntarily and you have worked at a place for sometime, I have heard that it is super hard for a German company to terminate the contract of their employees.
It is not at all like in the US, “hire and fire”. Germany seems super protective of its workers.
I guess when, for example, if you own a little cafe in Berlin. It’s good money in summer. But there are not as many customers at your cafe in winter – how do you pay your employees?
You can’t. And you cannot easily fire them. So you go bankrupt in the worst case.
So being a little flexible is good. Hence a mini-job seems a good way to solve that problem for some companies.
You can just hire two people on a mini-job for a couple of months in winter. And then you can let them go with a month’s notice.
Now something else.
It happened so, that after I took a mini-job, I discovered it did not pay my German public health insurance payments!
I was confused at first. However, as I was told – that’s common procedure.
So, make sure to check the details!
#2 Why mini-jobs are more popular among students in Germany?
Having a mini-job as a student in Germany was an easy way to earn money for me!
As a student in Germany, I wasn’t allowed to work more than 20 hours per week.
The cost of my student health insurance at the time was about 80 Euros monthly. This was for public insurance.
It would have been even less if I would have had private health insurance.
80 Euros or less – it did not really affect my budget. I thought that was quite cheap for health insurance every month. And with this mini-job, I still had spare money left.
When I had “werkstudent job” and mini-job at same time, my monthly salary was around 1360 Euros. As it was more than 450 Euros, it was already turning into another type of employment in terms of the legal obligations.
You might have heard about “Werkstudent” jobs. It’s something slightly different. I had such a job once. I got paid per hour. The salary can vary – the maximum I heard was about 17 Euros per hour… but that was in companies such as BOSCH or Mercedes. So chances are that other positions may pay less…
When I had Werkstudenten and mini job at the same time my monthly salary would be around 1360 Euros. As that was more than 450 Euros, it was turning into another type of employment in terms of the legal obligations.
#3 What you should know before getting your first mini-job in Germany?
- Is it difficult to get a mini-job in Germany?
For me, it was easy to get a mini job in Germany. I checked websites such as indeed.de, jobbörse.de or berlinstartupjobs.com and searched in different Facebook groups, such as Mini Jobs Berlin, Jobs Berlin-Brandenburg, English Jobs Berlin.
Basically, the job can be anything from cleaning to part-time professional help. And if it’s a job in a bar or a restaurant, they can hire a person without any prior experience.
- What is it like to be the only mini jobber in your job?
So, I was the only one with a mini job contract in the place I worked for. Everyone else had a part-time or full-time job.
A good thing is that I felt like a part of a professional collective from day 1.
I also made new profitable contacts for my future employment opportunities.
That’s why I highly suggest looking for something you are really passionate about, even if it’s 20 hours per week. You can actually gain a lot of new knowledge and experience if you are willing to. And meet nice people!
You can also see for yourself if you like or dislike a certain type of job or working culture if you are still undecided what you want to do in life.
- Student job VS Expat job
As said, having a mini job was a great opportunity for me as a student. Also, because as a student in Germany, I could work 120 days of 240 half-days in a year and you can hardly exceed this amount having a mini-job. However, I would advise counting a number of hours you work not to go beyond accidentally because it can cause problems.
Why is it only a short-term solution for an expat?
As an expat, I was willing to stay in Germany. I learned that eventually, I would have to look for a full-time position, preferably related to my diploma or professional skills. Unfortunately, a mini-job can’t give you a work permit in Germany and that was important to me. Also, most probably it won’t cover your expenses.
- What type of contract comes with a mini-job?
From my experience having a mini job, I strongly advise clarifying your conditions with your employer before signing a contract.
I heard stories when dishonest employers asked people to work extra hours as included in a mini-job, but therefore avoiding paying extra-money and taxes. Sometimes they asked if my friends are fine receiving a salary in cash from time to time. I think it’s also illegal, even if this amount is included in your contract. And probably if these sums exceed this amount.
- And again – I had to pay for your health insurance myself!
I repeat it because some people think, that after graduation (when their health insurance payments exceed 80 euros) the situation changes so that the employer pays half of the insurance in spite it’s a mini-job. It’s not the case!
Also, I thought the solution would be to take two or three mini-jobs, all for 450 Euros so that it compensates my insurance taxes. But it didn’t work, because in this case, I had to pay additional income taxes on my own plus my health insurance. So, beware!
#4 Switching from a mini-job to a full-time position
That’s what I did!
I knew that a mini-job was only a mini-job. It would not be enough to earn me living in Germany.
Unfortunately, it’s not certain that you will get a full-time position after having a mini-job. In any case, that’s not what happened for me. But I know others who took over full-time positions.
I think it really depends on where you work.
If you have a job in a German café or restaurant. And the place is successful and perhaps one employee stops working – maybe you are lucky and can take their place.
Or, as in my case, you do a mini job for a company that is still growing. And the success of the company is not for certain. Well then – it can go either way.
In this scenario, for example, my employers were just not able to change my mini job to a full-time position. They could not afford to pay roughly twice as much every month.
It’s crazy how much they have to pay, and how little you get in the end – I was surprised how much money goes into the welfare state, income tax, social security, health insurance, etc.
But I guess that’s also a good thing.
Eventually, you will have to look for something else, especially if you are interested to stay and live in Germany.
So, while having a mini-job, I suggest continuing searching for something that will be perfectly adequate for your life situation.
All and all, I wish you great luck finding a mini-job
…that will take you to the next level in terms of your career!
…or that works a nice source of pocket money – to buy you that extra pair of shoes, or start saving money like the Germans do :)
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