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What is a collective agreement and when does this apply?

A collective agreement is an agreement on working conditions such as wages and holidays between a company and a union (“company-specific collective agreement”) or between the employer's association for a specific industry and the union (“industry-wide collective agreement”).

General or umbrella collective agreements are agreements which regulate basic working conditions for all employees in an industry. Collective salary/wage agreements regulate the payments in a specific company or sector.

A collective agreement applies to your employment relationship if you are a member of the union, if your employer is a member of the employer's association and the union and the employer’s association have negotiated a collective agreement. A collective agreement also applies if there is a reference to this in your contract of employment or your employer belongs to an industry in which generally binding collective agreements apply (e.g. building cleaning, security services and others). Ask the Fair Integration advice centre whether a collective agreement applies to you.