Subcontracted Labour

What rights am I entitled to as a temporary worker?

Blue collar workers

Subcontracted labour ("Leiharbeit") is also known as temporary employment or temporary work. Subcontracted workers sign a contract with a company which "lends" them as employees to various other companies. When you have an employment contract with a temporary employment agency, you will be temporarily sent to other companies which are in urgent need of staff. Although you will work for the designated company, you will not be considered a regular staff, as the temporary employment agency will be paying your wages. The temporary employment agency remains your employer, i.e. for instance, they will be the authority at which you need to apply for your holidays, and they cover your social insurance contributions.

Please note: Subcontracted work does not mean "short-term work". As a subcontracted worker, you are mainly employed by your temporary employment agency and only occasionally change the company in which you work. The contracts signed between the workers and the temporary employment agencies are usually open-ended.

Temporary employment is often available in the metal and electronic industries as well as the security, logistics, transport, administration and office sectors. In general, however, one can do temporary work in any industry. Even unskilled workers are sought-after and hired by temporary employment agencies.

What do I need to know?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of subcontracted work?

What are my rights as a subcontracted worker?

How do I receive my wages?

How can I Find a Temporary Employment Agency?

Where can I complain?


There are usually some "rotten apples" among the temporary employment agencies, i.e. companies that do not abide by the law. The law-abiding temporary employment agencies are often members of associations such as the Federal Association for Personnel Service Providers (“Bundesarbeitgeberverband der Personaldienstleister” or BAP) or the German Association for Temporary Employment Agencies (“Interessenverband deutscher Zeitarbeitsunternehmen” or iGZ). You can either Inquire directly at the temporary employment agency or check their website to see if they are a member of any of these associations before signing an employment contract. To learn more about Temproray Employment Agencies, visit