Leading A Double (work) Life? Remote Work And Dual Employment In Germany - Employee Rights/ Labour Relations - Germany (2024)

21 December 2021

by Jörn-Philipp Klimburg (Kliemt)

Ius Laboris

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There is evidence that a number of employees working remotelyduring the pandemic have taken on second jobs. What can employersin Germany do if they suspect, or know, an employee has anotherjob?


Two salaries with easy working hours sounds like the dream ofmany employees. For many, working from home has already brought ahigh degree of flexibility to their working life. Some have usedthe greater time availability (no commute, etc.) to supplementtheir salary with a second job. However, if a secondary job is doneduring the employee's main job working hours, this can havesignificant consequences. We examine the question of whether and inwhat circ*mstances secondary employment working remotely ispermissible and what an employer can do in response to it.

A news story from the US recently made waves: a programmeradmitted to having taken up a second full-time job while workingfrom home due to the pandemic. According to his own statement, hedoes both full-time jobs during his 40-hour working week. It seemstrue to the motto: 'Don't work harder (or longer), worksmarter'. This took place, of course, without the knowledge ofeither of his employers. Inevitably, the question arises whetheremployers in Germany could also be confronted with this kind ofsituation.

What are the rules in Germany?

Secondary employment is generally permitted in Germany and doesnot have to be approved by the 'main' employer. Secondaryemployment can take the following forms:

  • another salaried employment relationship with another employer;or
  • a freelance employment relationship (self-employed secondaryemployment).

However, if an employee takes up a secondary job (no matter ifit is one hour per week or 40) which s/he wants to pursue duringregular working hours of his or her main job, this constitutes aviolation of the employee's duties under his or her employmentcontract. This is because during an employee's contractuallyagreed working hours, s/he owes the employer full working capacity.The example of the programmer from the US would therefore probablyresult in severe sanctions (see below) if it were tried out here inGermany.

What are the risks for employers?

To be on the safe side, employers usually require theiremployees to declare all secondary employment in their contracts ofemployment or to have any secondary employment approved by theemployer. This regulation is permissible and makes sense. Itenables the employer to check secondary activity and the employershould take this check seriously. It not only prevents the employeefrom working in a competing role, but also prevents violations ofthe Working Hours Act that could result in fines and penalties.

This is because the employer must ensure that the daily maximumworking time of eight hours is not exceeded. In addition, theremust be rest periods of at least eleven hours between workassignments. Particularly when employees work from home, theselimits are already fluid. If the employee takes on a secondary jobin addition to his or her main employment relationship, the risk ofviolations is obvious.

By contrast, if the secondary employment is a self-employedrole, the employer does not have to fear any sanctions, as theWorking Hours Act only applies to 'employed' secondaryemployment.

Finding out if an employee has two jobs

If an employee has not reported any secondary employment, theemployer could potentially check whether s/he is working a secondjob. Indications might include: lack of availability of theemployee by telephone during working hours, frequent reschedulingof meetings or telephone calls, not participating in'optional' appointments, or a significant drop inperformance during the working week due to the burden of two jobs.It could also be helpful to hear from other employees, customers,suppliers or other company partners.

If an employee has a part-time job with another employer, achange in tax class can be an important indication. Only one of thetwo employment relationships can be the 'main employmentrelationship'. Unless explicitly declared otherwise, the mostrecently declared employment relationship is treated as the'main employment relationship'. The previous employmentrelationship automatically becomes a secondary employmentrelationship with tax class VI. If the employee or the new employerdoes not pay attention when registering for social security, theprevious main employer may receive a clear indication of secondaryemployment from this.

If there is a concrete suspicion that secondary employment isbeing carried out during working hours, it might be possible toanalyse the company's IT infrastructure (emails, browserhistory, etc.) for indications to this effect. However, employersmust have significant grounds for suspicion in advance of takingany step of this type, and should proceed proportionately and withcaution, taking into account and respecting the employee'sprivacy and data protection rights, especially if private use of ITis permitted.

How can an employer respond?

Employers have the usual means at their disposal in the event ofsuspected dual employment, from a discussion with HR to formalwarnings and extraordinary dismissal. In addition, employers canconsider asking the employee to return from (pandemic-related) workfrom home. If the place of work was not changed to anemployee's home office either in the employment contract or bya later agreement, s/he has no entitlement to work from home.

Practical advice

Employers who wish to reduce the risk of employees taking onsecondary employment should consider the following measures:

  • prevent secondary employment, for example through includingappropriate restrictions in employment contracts;
  • conduct appropriate and proportionate monitoring of employeesworking from home, respecting privacy and data protectionrights;
  • address the issue with the employee as soon as suspicion arisesand, if there is no improvement, proceed with the usual legaldisciplinary measures.

The content of this article is intended to provide a generalguide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be soughtabout your specific circ*mstances.

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Leading A Double (work) Life? Remote Work And Dual Employment In Germany - Employee Rights/ Labour Relations - Germany (2024)


Is it allowed to have 2 jobs in Germany? ›

Yes. However, your employer must also agree. As long as you only have one mini-job, the income resulted will be exempt from social security contributions. If you have more than one mini-job alongside your full-time job, however, all the extra mini-jobs and your full-time job are taken into account.

Can I live in Germany and work remotely for a US company? ›

Yes, a US citizen can work for a US company while living in Europe. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. While there are no legal barriers to working for a US company while living in Europe, several practical considerations need to be taken into account.

What is the home office rule in Germany? ›

German law stipulates that employers cannot mandate employees to work from home without a valid reason. However, employees who prefer or need to work from home can negotiate individual agreements with their employers.

What is the work from home policy in Germany? ›

Working from Home Policy in Germany

As of January 2021, the government is creating a legal regulation called Mobile Work Act (Mobile-Arbeit-Gesetz) which, if approved, would give employees a legal right to work from home whenever possible.

How is a second job taxed in Germany? ›

You need to pay taxes for any amount of money that you earned in your secondary job (this applies to any number of jobs besides your main job). The wage tax is deducted from your earnings on a monthly basis and transferred to the tax office (“Finanzamt”) automatically.

Is it illegal to work 2 jobs at the same time in USA? ›

Is It Legal to Work Two Full-Time Jobs? Having a second job doesn't violate any laws, but it might be a breach of contract with your current employer. Ensure that the company you're currently working for allows moonlighting and check the company policy and employment contract for guidance.

Can I live in Germany and work remotely for another country? ›

It is where YOU ARE that matters. If you're living in Germany, you cannot work for remotely for anyone without work authorization to perform the work while in Germany. So as long as that work visa is valid for Germany and you can find a US company willing to hire you remotely, have a ball.

How long can you work remotely in another country without paying taxes? ›

However, in some instances, you might also have to observe residence-based or territorial-based taxation law. For example, if you spend more than 183 days outside of your home location, some countries see you as a taxable resident and require you to pay tax for any local economic activity.

Can I live in Europe and work remotely for a US company? ›

Yes, it is entirely possible to work for a US based company while living abroad either as a digital nomad or as a non-citizen.

What is the 183 rule in Germany? ›

If you are a tax resident outside of Germany while you are working in Germany, stay in Germany for less than 183 days, and get paid by your non-German employer you will most likely not have to get involved with German taxes at all (some exceptions may apply).

What is Article 116 Basic law Germany? ›

Former German citizens who between 30 January 1933 and 8 May 1945 were deprived of their German citizenship on political, racial, or religious grounds may have their citizenship restored. This generally also applies to their descendants.

Is it illegal to work more than 8 hours a day in Germany? ›

Legal limits to working hours in Germany

The working week runs from Monday to Saturday, and employees must not work more than 48 hours per week. This can be extended to 10 hours per day, if within six months (or 24 weeks) the overall average working time does not exceed eight hours per day.

Is remote work common in Germany? ›

Working from home is the not-so-new normal for many German workers, a study says. More than a third of service sector employees do their jobs remotely at least some of the time.

Do German companies lay off employees? ›

Layoffs in Germany are strictly regulated and are subject to negotiations between the employer and the Works Council. One of the important tasks of Works Councils here is to protect all employees' interests, and above everything, to ensure and protect employment opportunities for all.

What are the working policies in Germany? ›

The standard working hours in Germany are generally limited to a maximum of eight hours per day or 40 hours per week. This may differ slightly with collective agreements. The majority of full-time jobs in Germany are five days a week, from Monday to Saturday.

How many jobs can one do in Germany? ›

According to German law, individuals can have multiple mini-jobs as long as the combined working hours do not exceed 50 hours per month.

Can I have a side job in Germany? ›

Your employer is not allowed to prohibit you from working as a freelancer, but there are a few caveats to this: Your self-employed work must not be in competition with your employer. The quality of the work you do in your main job must not suffer as a result of your sideline.

Can you have 2 jobs in Europe? ›

If the second employment is another country, that doesn't matter. What matters is how many hours you work. Two jobs in Germany, or one in Germany and one elsewhere, is exactly the same as far as working hours are concerned. And having two work permits is fine.

Can a student have 2 minijobs in Germany? ›

You can also have several minijobs at the same time, provided you do not earn more than a total of 450 Euros per month from all the jobs together. If your income is higher, taxes and social insurance contributions will be deducted.

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