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Working in Munich

Find out how to get a job and work in Munich

Are you about to start working in Munich? As an expatriate in the Bavarian capital, you’ll contribute to one of Germany’s most prosperous economic clusters. Learn more about job hunting, working conditions, and social security for expats in the InterNations GO! Guide to Munich!

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats, we understand what you need, and offer the the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us today to jump start your move, and begin the preparations with our free relocation checklist.

Employment in Munich

  • If you work in the service or engineering sectors, Munich is a good location choice for your next career move, with many key companies based there.
  • You can typically have your foreign qualifications, both academic and professional, recognized in Germany.
  • When you start working in Munich, you will have a probation period of between three and six months. In this time, you will likely not be able to book annual leave.
  • Germany offers a comprehensive scheme for new parents, which guarantees your return to work after parental leave.
  • Depending on your country of origin, you may have to pay into the German social security system when you start working in Munich. 

In Munich, you will join the labor force of one of Germany’s strongest economic regions. Together with Frankfurt/Main (Hesse), as well as Stuttgart and Mannheim (Baden-Württemberg), the Bavarian capital forms a cluster of thriving metropolitan regions in the south. In 2015, the state of Bavaria had a GDP of 549.19 billion EUR, having grown by 12.5% since 2008. At 4.1% as of 2016, the Bavarian unemployment rate is also much lower than the German national unemployment rate of 6.1%. This largely positive economic climate is also due to the effort of those working in Munich.

Key Sectors in the City and the Hinterland

Although many picture postcard clichés of Bavaria involve happy cows on verdant pastures, working in Munich is unlikely to provide you with a job in agriculture. The city, its rural hinterland, and the metropolitan region rely strongly on the service sector and, to a lesser extent, on high-tech manufacturing.

Some of the top industries for employment opportunities in Munich are in automotive and mechanical engineering, aerospace and defense, environmental technologies, life sciences, ICT, tourism, and business services.

Since the Greater Munich Area includes nearly half of Bavaria, you may end up finding employment in one of southern Bavaria’s smaller cities rather than in Munich proper. Augsburg is an important location for international companies, such as betapharm, Premium AEROTEC, MAN, and Osram. Ingolstadt, a town approximately 70 km from Munich, features a number of sub-contractors for the automotive sector, and the so-called “Bavarian Chemical Triangle” stretches across the countryside southeast of Munich, along the River Inn and down to the Chiemsee. If the petrochemical industry is of interest to you, you should opt for this area rather than for working in Munich itself. 

Job Hunting Resources

If you are  keen on working in Munich, but not being sent or actively recruited by an employer, how do you proceed? There are several ways to go about it. First, you could search for job opportunities by means of the standard online resources. The following (mainly German-only) websites are those that most German job-seekers interested in working in Munich would use:

Since having a personal contact in a company often means having your foot in the door, networking is an essential part of job hunting. Once you seriously consider working in Munich, you could expand your business network by attending one of the many annual trade fairs in Munich.

Moreover, both the German chambers of commerce and Bayern International organize events with the aim of strengthening foreign trade for German and Bavarian enterprises. The Bayern International association has also set up the Key Technologies in Bavaria database to promote specialized small and middle enterprises. If you have a specialized skill set, these companies — in addition to global players like Microsoft or BMW — might be potential employers for working in Munich, or finding a job in Bavaria in general.

Ensuring You Find a Job: Language Skills and Recognizing Qualifications

If you want to increase your chances of working in Munich, try brushing up your German language skills. At the Goethe Institut, for instance, you can take language classes as well as official exams adhering to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. When you have arrived in Munich, you can continue your lessons at one of the city’s numerous private language schools. There are also a few consultancy services that offer cross-cultural training aimed at expats in Munich.

Last but not least, if you think of working in Munich, you should have your academic and professional qualifications recognized in Germany. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees offers a service providing information about the relevant authority to recognize your qualifications dependent on your profession.

In Munich, there is also a separate office where skilled immigrants can get advice on having their qualifications recognized in Germany. You can find out more about this service and what information is provided on the Munich portal website.

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Working Conditions in Munich

Receiving the Appropriate Wage

Just as in other countries, salaries in Germany depend on various factors: your own qualifications and professional experience, the location and size of the company, and the current economic climate. Introduced in January 2015, the German minimum wage is 8.50 EUR per hour and will be raised to 8.84 EUR as of January 2017.

Skilled workers and employees covered by collective agreements of Germany’s large trade unions tend to have a fairly good income. On the other hand, people in certain jobs — such as temp work or hairdressing — are often underpaid.

Expatriates with excellent qualifications and specialist skills are very likely to have a solid or high income. Jobs in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries, as well as in vehicle engineering, are often very well paid.

If you plan on settling in Munich, you should make sure that your salary is at least slightly above the national average. After all, the city has the highest cost of living in Germany.

Employment Contracts and Working Hours

The most common form of employment in Germany is based on an unlimited contract for a full-time position. However, part-time employment, temp work, and so-called “mini jobs” with a monthly salary of 400 or 450 EUR are gradually becoming more common.

The usual number of working hours is 40 per week. However, people in management positions tend to accumulate lots of, often unpaid, overtime, and those working in fields like security, transport, healthcare, or law enforcement frequently have irregular and strenuous work schedules.

When you have signed the contract for your new job in Munich, you’ll start out with a trial period or probationary period of between three and six months. During this period, both you and your boss can give two weeks’ notice. Afterwards, you will have a notice period as agreed between you and your employer.

It’s legally prohibited for an employer to fire their staff at will and with immediate notice unless extraordinary circumstances require it. For example, if an employee is caught stealing money from the cash box, he or she can certainly be laid off at once.

Taking Time for Yourself: Annual Leave

During the trial period, new employees are usually not permitted to take time off, though this may be at the individual company’s discretion. Once the first six months are over, you can make full use of your annual leave. The legal minimum is 20 days per year for an employee with a 5-day work week. However, you may be offered more depending on the company you work for and the length of time you have been working for them. In addition to your regular leave, you will likely have all public holidays off — that is, if they don’t fall on a non-workday and you do not work in a sector that requires your presence, anyway. If you have to work on a public holiday or Sunday, your employer has to provide you with an alternative day off.

Expats who’ll start working in Munich are in luck. With 13 public holidays per year, the inhabitants of Catholic regions in Bavaria have the highest number of days off from school or work in the entire country. If you happen to live and work in the city of Augsburg near Munich, you’ll get a 14th public holiday on top of that. The Augsburg Friedensfest commemorates the end of religious hostilities after the Thirty Years’ War.

Support for New and Established Families

Expat couples with young kids have the opportunity to spend some time with their children while working in Munich: an employee can apply for up to three years of parental leave. After that period, they must be offered a similar position as their old one by their previous employer. At least, that’s the theory. How this regulation works in practice, hampering the careers of stay-at-home mothers, is subject to heated debates.

Moreover, the stay-at-home parent can draw parental benefits for up to 12 months. This allowance amounts to 65–67% of their salary. Generally speaking, parental benefits range from 300 EUR to 1,800 EUR per month. If you wish to return to work part-time, then you are eligible for the so-called parental allowance “Plus” (ElterngeldPlus). This form of parental allowance is for twice as long as the standard parental benefits, but is at most half the amount that would be received by parents who are not working part-time. You must apply for these benefits in writing and it is best to seek advice regarding your eligibility as a foreign national.

Families with kids also receive a family allowance (Kindergeld) for their dependent children, between 184 EUR and 215 EUR per month depending on the number of children in the family. EU nationals, foreign residents with an unlimited settlement permit, and many foreign parents with a standard residence permit which allows them to work are usually entitled to family allowance as well. 

For more information on your specific case, please contact the Family Benefits Office (Familiankasse) at your nearest Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit). Expat parents living in Munich can reach the respective Familienkasse Bayern Süd via phone (0800 4 5555 30) or email (Familienkasse-Bayern-Sued@arbeitsagentur.de).

Social Security in Germany

When you begin to work in Munich, you will usually become part of Germany’s social security system. Here we give an overview of the other kinds of social insurance that are standard for most employees in Germany, both locals and expatriates. You can find out more about medical insurance in Germany in our guide to health insurance in Germany.

Should Bad Luck Befall You: Accident Insurance

First of all, every employee is automatically insured against accidents in the workplace and occupational diseases. Before you start your new job, your employer will enroll you in the company’s accident insurance plan and pay for your contributions. Unless you are self-employed, you don’t have to do anything — except file a detailed insurance report in case that something does happen to you at work.

Preparing for the Future: National Pensions

Apart from public healthcare, the most important part of Germany’s welfare state is the national pension plan. As of 2016, contributions totaled 18.9% for old-age pension. Half of these contributions are paid for by the company while the other 50% are withheld directly from the income. There is, however, a contribution ceiling of 69,600 EUR, meaning that any annual income over this will not be subject to the payments.

Selected groups among the self-employed, e.g. tradespeople and freelance artists, are also required to contribute to national insurance, which is mandatory for employees. Other self-employed persons can sign up on a voluntary basis, rely solely on private pension policies, or join a pension plan offered by their professional association (e.g. for self-employed doctors in Germany).

Once you reach the official retirement age of 65 or 67 — for those born in or after 1964, the age is 67 apart from some exceptions — you will draw an old-age pension from a government fund, depending on the amount of time you have been contributing to the system. The exact sum you’ll receive is calculated according to a complicated formula, which depends, among other things, on the years you’ve paid into the pension funds and the amount of your income. As mentioned above, only certain self-employed people are covered. So if you are considering self-employment, please do additional research and consult our guide regarding self-employment in Germany.

Since the national pension is, however, often not enough, many Germans pay into government-supported private pension schemes to top up their benefits in old age (so-called Riesterrente or Rürup-Rente). Company pension plans (betriebliche Altersvorsorge) are also becoming increasingly popular among employees. The contributions can be deducted directly from your gross salary, and many employers also sponsor such plans with a small monthly sum.

What You Need to Know: Social Security for Expats

For foreign residents working in Germany, there may be certain exceptions to compulsory participation in the national pension scheme, e.g. for assignees on intra-company transfers and people in the diplomatic service. If such exceptions don’t apply to you and Germany does not have a social security agreement with your home country, you have to pay into Germany’s government pension funds during your time in Munich. If your country of origin does not have a social security agreement with Germany and you haven’t been contributing to the German system for more than five years, you may ask to get your contributions back. You can apply for a refund, at the earliest, 24 months after returning to your home country.

Nationals of EU/EFTA member states and of those countries who do have a social security agreement with Germany should contact their pension office back home or the Deutsche RentenversicherungThey will be able to explain how exactly your time spent working in Germany may affect your old-age pension. Of course, private pension plans are a completely different matter. Whether you contribute to Germany’s pension funds usually has no influence on them.

In 2016, Germany held social security agreements with 18 different countries, as well as special agreements with China and India. To see if Germany has a social security agreement with your home country, visit the German pension insurance website. Here you will also find details on how to contact them if you have any further questions.  

For the Worst Case Scenario: Unemployment Benefits

Last but certainly not least, a part of your gross salary is used to pay for unemployment insurance. This amounts to 3% of your earnings, paid half by yourself and half by your employer. If you have paid these contributions for at least 360 days within the last two years, you are entitled to unemployment benefits. You will receive 60% of your net income (67% for people with dependent family members) for 12 months.

Usually, renewing the residence permit is dependent on your ability to pay for your living. Thus, if you should lose your job, but want to stay on in Munich while you’re looking for a new one, make sure to get legal advice. If you are entitled to get unemployment benefits or if you have a savings account to fall back on, chances are probably good that your residence status won’t be affected for a while.

Further Information

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: September 14, 2016
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