Förderprogramm "Integration durch Qualifizierung IQ"

FAQ – Labour law & labour courts

If you have a question about labour law, contact a Fair Integration advice centre.

The centres will advise you free of charge and anonymously if you wish. You can ask questions on many topics, for example about your employment contract, payroll, working conditions or pay.

Trade unions also offer advice on labour law. If you are a member of a trade union, it will help you and offer you legal assistance and representation in a legal dispute.




You can also contact a lawyer who works in the field of labour law at any time. If you need a lawyer, you should know that lawyers have to be paid. Lawyers' fees are regulated by law.

For people with little money (income), there is also the possibility of getting advice from a lawyer for a small price. This is done with the help of an advisory aid certificate.

What is a Beratungsschein (advisory aid certificate) and how do I get one?

This certificate for advice is for people who don’t have much money (low income). It gives them the chance to get advice from a lawyer for a small price. In addition to simple legal advice, it can also cover representing you out of court (assertion of claims, settlements, etc.).

Certain income and asset limits apply for this. Pensioners, the unemployed, recipients of social welfare or benefits under the Asylum Seekers' Benefits Act (Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz) generally fulfil this requirement. Individuals who would receive instalment-free legal aid can also obtain a Beratungsschein (advisory aid certificate). If you take this certificate with you to a lawyer, you only have to pay him/her a maximum fee of 15 Euros. He/she can claim back the rest of the fees from the state.

The application for advisory aid (Antrag auf Beratungshilfe) can be made in writing using a form or orally at the responsible local court (Amtsgericht). Your responsible local court is the one in the district where your main residence is located. If you would like to apply for an advisory aid certificate, it is helpful to call the local court beforehand to find out what documents you need and to know the opening hours. You should have completed the application form before you go.

You can find it here: https://justiz.de/service/formular/dateien/agI1.pdf

Take the form and the necessary documents to the legal application centre. They will check the approval requirements there. You might get your advisory aid certificate there (if the check is positive).

It usually takes about 2 weeks before you receive the advisory aid certificate. The court only issues one certificate for each out-of-court matter. The advisory aid procedure at the responsible local court is free of charge for you.

Advisory aid can also be applied for after the consultation with the lawyer. However, the risk here is that the application will not be approved and you will then have to pay for the lawyer yourself.

If you want to be sure that a certificate will be approved before you apply, you can calculate this using a legal aid calculator: 


Anyone who would receive instalment-free legal aid can also obtain an advisory aid certificate. In addition, there must be no other possibility of free advice/representation in the out-of-court matter (e.g. by a trade union, legal expenses insurance). A further requirement is that the responsible local court has not yet approved or rejected an advisory aid certificate for the same matter.

How to apply for an advisory aid certificate:

If you want to apply for an advisory aid certificate at the legal application centre at the local court, you must bring the following documents with you:

  • A valid form of identification (identity card, residence permit, passport, ...)
  • Your current proof of income and that of your spouse (e.g. payslip, notification from the employment agency or job centre)
  • Proof of child maintenance obligations, if applicable
  • Proof of other monthly payment obligations, if applicable
  • Bank statements for the last 3 months
  • Your current rental contract and proof of heating or electricity costs
  • If applicable, any documents relating to the matter (e.g. notice of termination, formal warning letter, etc.)

Once your advisory aid certificate has been approved, you can go to a lawyer with it. Lawyers are generally obliged to take on clients with approved advisory aid. If a lawyer has too many cases or the client's behaviour is bad, he/she can refuse the case. Before you make an appointment, you should always inform the lawyer that you have an advisory aid certificate.

How much does a labour court case cost?

The costs of proceedings before the labour courts are made up of legal fees (if a lawyer is appointed) and court costs. If the parties reach a settlement during a conciliation hearing or if the action is withdrawn before the motions are filed, no court costs are incurred. Each party must pay their own legal fees.

What is a conciliation hearing (Gütetermin)?

The first appointment at the labour court is called a conciliation hearing. This does not end with a verdict. At the conciliation hearing, the aim is to try and reach an agreement between the employee and the employer. On the day of the conciliation hearing, the employee, the employer, the respective lawyers (if any) and the judge meet.

This meeting is open to the public and observers are allowed to watch. The case is discussed and they see whether a compromise can be found.  This can be a payment, the amount of a severance payment or something similar. If an agreement is reached, the decision is written down and sent to the employer and the employee. This is known as a settlement. The process is then finished.

If no agreement is reached, the court can also organise a second conciliation hearing if there is a chance that an agreement might be reached then. If it is still not possible to reach an agreement, a chamber hearing will follow (there may be several chamber hearings). A settlement may also be reached here. If this is not the case, the labour court will reach a verdict.

Even in the first instance, each party bears its own legal fees, regardless of whether the legal dispute is won or lost. The court costs are borne by the losing party. From the second instance (regional labour court) onwards, the party that loses the case must bear all costs, including those of the other party.

The amount of costs in labour court proceedings is based on the so-called amount in dispute. The higher the amount in dispute, the higher the costs. The labour court determines the amount in dispute in the verdict. Once the amount in dispute has been determined, the court costs and legal fees can be calculated. The court costs are always only due at the end of an instance. Advances do not have to be paid.

Note: if you have any questions about costs or the court proceedings, ask at your Fair Integration advice centre!


What is legal aid?

Legal aid is a type of state loan (borrowed money) for people with a low income (not much money), which is used for legal costs incurred in a legal dispute. Legal aid is intended to support people who have to go to court but cannot cover the costs themselves. It is therefore financial help for people who don’t have much money.

These are usually pensioners, the unemployed, recipients of social welfare or benefits under the Asylum Seekers' Benefits Act (Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz). The amount of money you have must be less than 5000 Euros. There must be a prospect of success in the legal action. This means that the judge has to believe that you will win your case. Only then can the costs be covered.

Legal aid is usually applied for by a lawyer when he/she files the lawsuit. The application can be made before or after the action is filed. A check is made as to whether the applicant is financially needy (doesn’t have much money). This is determined with an "Erklärung über die persönlichen und wirtschaftlichen Verhältnisse” (declaration of personal and financial circumstances).

You must add these documents to the application:

  • A valid form of identification (identity card, residence permit, passport, ...)
  • Your current proof of income and that of your spouse (e.g. certificate of earnings, certificate of receipt of unemployment benefits)
  • Proof of child maintenance obligations, if applicable
  • Proof of other monthly payment obligations, if applicable
  • Your bank statements for the last 3 months
  • Your current rental contract and proof of heating or electricity costs
  • If applicable, any documents relating to the matter (e.g. notice of termination, formal warning letter, etc.)
Repaying legal aid / legal costs

If the application for legal aid is approved, you are exempt from paying the costs of the proceedings. The court can check your income situation (how much you earn) for up to 4 years after you have received legal aid. You must inform the labour court of your own accord for four years after the end of the proceedings whether your income has improved by more than 100 Euros.

You must also inform the labour court if you move house. So if you earn more money after the case, the labour court may contact you and you will have to pay back the legal costs. Legal aid may have to be repaid either in instalments, in full, in part or not at all. The court can also carry out checks on its own initiative and ask you to disclose your personal and financial circumstances.

Please note: if you lose a case in the second instance, you will also have to pay the other party's legal fees. This is not included in legal aid.


What are the lawyer's tasks?

It is important to know that there is no obligation to be represented by a lawyer in the first instance before the labour court. This means that you can attend the conciliation hearing and the chamber hearing without a lawyer. It is up to you to decide whether you want to get a lawyer or not!

If you have legal expenses insurance, you should ask whether it will cover the case. Only then should you hire a lawyer.

A lawyer will make an appointment with you to discuss your case. You must bring all the relevant documents with you to the appointment, such as your employment contract, payslips and other documents. The lawyer will check these documents.

He/she can then suggest whether your case should be settled out of court or in court. Out-of-court clarifications include, for example, contacting the employer, formulating claims and the like. If the lawyer advises you to file a lawsuit, he/she will also represent you in court. If it comes to a conciliation hearing, he/she will accompany you and represent you before the other party. In addition to a lawyer, other people are also permitted as legal representatives before the labour court, such as trade unions.

What are the tasks of labour courts?

The labour court deals with disputes relating to labour law. These are usually situations between employers and employees or between parties to a collective agreement. The labour court is a civil court with special jurisdiction. Proceedings before the labour court are initiated by filing a complaint with the responsible labour court. Anyone can file a complaint. It is usually done by the lawyer.

What is legal expenses insurance?

Legal expenses insurance is insurance that you take out to cover the costs of a legal dispute. You have to pay an amount to an insurance company every month. If a legal dispute arises, the insurance company can cover the costs. You should pay attention to which costs are covered by the respective insurance and which areas of law are insured. Labour law is not always covered by insurance. You should clarify whether your insurance will cover the case.

Advice centres

If you have any further questions, please contact your Faire Integration advice centre. You can find out who is responsible for you in your federal state on the advice centre page.

Information material

Here you will find informative material, flyers and videos on labour and social law issues.

Do you want to find out about your rights at work in Germany? We have done short videos on topics such as redundancy, mini-jobs, health insurance and more. Just click through and find out more.

Go to the videos