Can I stay home if I’m worried, I may get infected?

The German law has not foreseen any legal entitlement to work from home for the employees. However, the employer is responsible for workplace safety. So employees can work from home so if their employer agrees. Talk to your superior and inquire about feasible health-related measures. Sometimes, “home-office” as an option is regulated in firm-level or a collective agreements.

If your employer ignores employees' safety and well-being, speak to the works council in your company or inform the Health Office (“Gesunheitsamt”) in your area. You can find the proper Health Office via Behördenwegweiser.

Do I have to work overtime during the Coronavirus pandemic?

Overtime is when an employee works more than the agreed regular working hours. In principle, employees only have to work overtime if a collective agreement, a firm-level agreement or their employment contract requires them to do so. In exceptional situations, however, i.e. at times of disaster and emergency (e.g. flooding in office), or at times of particular operational necessity (e.g. when the fulfilment of specific tasks in a short notice is crucial for the survival of the company and many colleagues are ill and incapable of work), all employees are obliged to work overtime, regardless of their contract or collective agreement.


Whether the overtime is compensated by extra pay or additional free time is often regulated in the employment contract. If according to the employment contract, your overtime work is to be compensated either with wages or with free time, then, your overtime hours may not amount to more than 10% of the contractually agreed working hours. If overtime is not regulated in your employment contract, you will often receive your regular hourly wages for the overtime hours- but only if your superiors have ordered the overtime and you have documented the overtime work in writing. To do so, you need to write down your overtime and have it signed by your supervisor.
Please note: Employees who receive larger salaries (higher than 5800 euro gross in East Germany and 6500 euro in West Germany) are not paid extra for overtime.

Please note: Employees who receive larger salaries (higher than 5800 euro gross in East Germany and 6500 euro in West Germany) are not paid extra for overtime.

Can I stay home to look after my child/children?

Since the daycare centres and schools are closed, children stay home the whole day. So working parents have to find someone to take care of their children during worktime. If you do not have anyone who can look after the children when you work, you need to talk to your employer so that together you can find a solution. One solution, for instance, can be that you work from home. If that does work, in principle, you are entitled to a paid leave for some days. Some work contracts or collective agreements include additional regulations in this regard. If that is the case, these regulations apply. 

The current closure of schools and daycare centres will take longer- such a solution, however, can only function as a temporary one. Afterwards, you need to find a long-term solution along with your employer, for instance, a paid/unpaid leave or using up your overtime hours.

At the end of March, a new law was passed: Parents who are unable to work due to childcare and therefore receive little or no wages will be compensated. The compensation amounts to 67% of your net wages (maximum 2,016 euro) and is paid for a maximum of six weeks. You can only receive the mentioned compensation if you meet the following requirements:

  • Your child is under the age of 12 or needs care because of a disability.
  • There is no one else available in your household to look after your child.
  • You have already balanced your overtime and do not have any paid vacation left.

The employer applies for compensation on behalf of the employees. The self-employed must contact the Health Office responsible. You can find the proper Health Office at Behördenwegweiser.

Please note: There are emergency childcare services for children whose parents work in certain professions (e.g. police, fire brigade, hospital staff, energy supply, etc.). If you have a job like this, ask your child's school/ daycare centre or the responsible Schooling authorities ("Schulamt") about the regulations which apply to you, since there are no uniform regulations in this regard throughout Germany.

What happens if my employer sends me home, because I am ill?

An employer is obliged to send you home when you are sick. You will continue receiving wages while sick. You can learn more about missing work during illness in our chapter “Sick Leave”. Please note that currently, for specificness illnesses you can also obtain a doctors’ note (“Krankschreibung”) per phone.  If an employer decides to send fit and ready-to-work personnel home as a precautionary measure, he/she remains obliged to pay the wages. When that is the case, the employee does not have to make up for lost working hours.

Do I receive wages if I don't make it to my workplace, if, for instance, public transport stops working?

No. The employee is solely responsible for finding a way to get to the place of work.

Will I still receive wages if I am quarantined?

Individuals who are ordered by health authorities to stay home due to suspicion of contagion and to protect the public health will suffer an income loss which will be compensated. For the first six weeks you have to spend in isolation, your employer will continue to pay your full wage and then apply for and have it reimbursed. Starting the seventh week, you will receive sickness benefits ("Krankgeld") instead. You can learn more in our chapter “Sick Leave”.

Will I get paid if I contract the coronavirus and cannot work?

Yes. When an employee falls ill, he or she is entitled to receive wages despite being unable to work for six weeks. Starting the seventh week, you will start to receive sickness benefit ("Krankgeld"). Learn more in our chapter “Sick Leave”.

Am I going to get paid if my company has to close due to the coronavirus pandemic?

If an employer has to temporarily close due to the Coronavirus pandemic, he/she remains obliged to pay wages if the employees are fit and ready to work. The missed working hours are not to be made up for later by the employee. If other regulations are included in your contract or collective agreement, those apply. 

If a company is closed for longer, "short-time work" or compulsory redundancies may be adopted. You can learn more about “Kurzarbeit” or “short-term work” in the section below. To learn more about dismissal/quitting in Germany, check our chapter “Termination of Employment Contract”.

Can I obtain a work permit to get a short-term job in the field of agriculture?

Germany needs help with the harvest this year. Many workers used to come to Germany this time of year for the harvest jobs from the neighbouring countries in Eastern Europe. That is now not possible anymore since the borders are closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. 

So, the fields in Germany lack the helping hands they used to have. That is why It has become easier for many to obtain a work permit in the field. Before, many job-seekers needed the approval of the Immigration Office and the Federal Employment Agency before they start to work. The second step, i.e. waiting for the Employment Agency's approval, is now omitted from the process for some, which means you will be able to obtain a work permit quicker than before.

The new regulation applies to:

  • Asylum seekers, i.e. people with residence permits who can, in principle, obtain a work permit. Generally, you can get a work permit if you have been in Germany for at least three months (or nine months, in case you still live in an initial accommodation facility).
  • Individuals with tolerated stay permit or "Duldung", given they, in principle, can obtain a work permit. Generally, you can get a work permit if you have been having a "Duldung" for at least three months (or six months, in case if you still have to live in an initial accommodation facility). However, the new regulation will not apply to you if you have been preventing your deportation through deception or lack of cooperation.
  • Individuals with a residence permit (e.g. a visa) who either do not have a work permit or are only permitted to do specific jobs.

Important: If you come from a safe country of origin (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Senegal and Ghana) and the asylum application you have made after August 31, 2015, has been rejected, you cannot obtain a work permit.

Furthermore, the new rule only applies if the following conditions are met:

  • The job you find must be a helpers' job in agriculture.
  • Your employment contract must run between April 1 to October 31, 2020 (maximum).
  • You should receive (at least) the statutory minimum wage, i.e. you have to earn at least 9.35 euro gross per hour.

If you would like to take up a short-term job in the fields, you can now directly apply to a farm. You will find many job postings on daslandhilft.de. If you have found an employer, you or your employer should call the Immigration Office responsible for you- They will let you know which documents and forms you have to submit to obtain a work permit for that particular job. You can find the Immigration Office responsible for you at webgis.bamf.de.