Förderprogramm "Integration durch Qualifizierung IQ"

FAQ – Temporary work

What is temporary work?

Temporary work is a certain (atypical) form of employment. The special feature of this is that you sign a contract with a temporary employment agency, but work for another company (you are "on loan” to them). The temporary employment agency usually concludes contracts with various companies which you are loaned out to. In addition, you will only be loaned to the company for a certain period of time.

"Leiharbeit", "Zeitarbeit" and "Arbeitnehmerüberlassung" are different terms in German that all stand for temporary work.

The duration of the "loan" can vary greatly. It may last anywhere from a few days to even several months. You will be loaned out to different companies/businesses for set periods of time. By law, temporary workers must not be employed by a company for more than 18 months at a time (consecutive months). Unless a collective agreement maintains that temporary workers can remain in a company for longer than 18 months.

After a waiting period of 3 months, you can return to the company (so there must be a break between jobs). However, the hiring company can also employ you permanently after 18 months (or earlier).

Please note: temporary work does not mean job placement.

The aim of job placement is to place employees in a permanent position where they are employed on a permanent basis. With temporary work, you are employed with the agency and deployed in different companies for a limited period of time. So you have an employment contract that can be either fixed-term or permanent. You conclude the employment contract with the temporary employment agency.

What laws apply to temporary work?

There are legal regulations for temporary work in the Act on Temporary Agency Work (Arbeitnehmerüberlassungsgesetz, AÜG). Collective agreements regulate the framework conditions for this work.

As from 1 January 2024, the industry-specific minimum wage in temporary work will be 13.50 Euros per hour. 

If the company to which you have been loaned out to belongs to a sector in which a generally binding industry-specific minimum wage applies, you must be paid this industry-specific minimum wage. It is important that you are correctly categorised. In the collective agreements, there are certain wage groups that are assigned to specific activities. If you need to be trained for a job or require specific vocational training, you must be paid a higher wage.

Please note: you must be categorised in the correct wage group from the very start. It’s hard to change the categorisation at a later date.

It is possible that your employer categorises you in a lower wage group than is actually correct. Find out from your trade union or the Fair Integration advice centre whether you have been placed in the correct wage group.

Important: temporary workers must be treated in the same way as employees in the company where they work. This does not apply if a collective agreement applies to the temporary work.


What are the differences between the company you work in and the temporary employment agency for you?

You conclude your employment contract with the temporary employment agency. The temporary employment agency therefore has the obligations of an employer:

  • You receive your wages/salary from the temporary employment agency
  • You request holiday from the temporary employment agency
  • Illness: you need to inform the temporary employment agency and the company you work in.
  • Accidents: you need to inform the temporary employment agency about an accident at work. If you are unable to work because of the accident, you must also inform the company you work in.

Please note: you are bound by the "instructions of the company", which means: The company you work in will give you instructions on how to carry out the work at the workplace and specify the exact daily working hours.

If the company you work in has a works council, it is also responsible for you. You can consult them with questions and problems.

What is a working time account?

A working time account is where extra hours worked (plus hours) are collected or fewer hours worked (minus hours) are reduced. A working time account is typical for temporary work. The employment contract between you and the temporary employment agency states how many hours you have to work per week.

Different companies work different hours and sometimes you might have to work overtime. Or sometimes you might work less than it says in your contract. These plus and minus hours are collected in your working time account. You can often find information about the hours in your working time account on your payslip (under AZK-Std. or Zeitkonto).

Some employers provide separate monthly overviews of the working time accounts. Depending on what you have agreed with the temporary employment agency, you may also be able to take plus hours as time off in lieu (hours/days off).

When the contract with the temporary employment agency ends, the accumulated plus hours in your working time account must be paid out to you.

What happens if you are not assigned a company to work in?

When your assignment ends and you are not deployed by your employer in any other company, this is known as "verleihfreie Zeit” (loan-free time). Loan-free time is not leisure time. Loan-free time also cannot be deducted from your working time account as minus hours without your agreement. Loan-free time has to be paid:

  • You will continue to receive your salary even though you are not currently working in any company.
  • Your employer must be able to reach you during this time.
  • If a new company is found for you, you must be available.
  • Your employer cannot make you take holiday during the loan-free time.

Please note: if the temporary employment agency is unable to find a company for you to work in, it cannot force you to reduce your plus hours. That is prohibited!


Is it possible that you earn less than your colleagues in the same company?

Yes, that might be the case. Technically you should receive the same pay as your colleagues and work under the same working conditions (overtime, breaks, rest periods, night work, holidays, etc.) as them. But: there may be different regulations in a collective agreement.

As a temporary worker, you will often earn less than your colleagues at the company where you work if a collective agreement applies to your employment relationship. Almost all temporary workers are covered by a collective agreement, so in the first 9 months you often earn less than your permanent colleagues for the same work. If you work in the same company for more than 9 months, by law you must receive the same pay as your colleagues.

If you are unsure whether you are being paid fairly, find out from your Fair Integration advice centre!

Termination/dismissal in temporary work: what you need to know!

Notice periods for terminations, even in temporary work, must be adhered to. Notice periods can be taken from the German Civil Code, from collective agreements and from the employment contract. Notice periods during the probationary period (usually 6 months in temporary work) are often very short. If your assignment at a company ends and you are not assigned a new job, this does not mean that you can automatically be dismissed. However, temporary workers are often dismissed due to a lack of work.

Please note: not all dismissals are justified. Your Fair Integration advice centre can check this and inform you about your rights and options.