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FAQ: Jobs and Studies
Getting a job to finance a study program is - for many students - very important. However, there are some rules that should be taken into account and important information that will make an application more successful. Below you can find an overview of important legal information and contact information for services helping you write applications (be advised that the translation is advisory and cannot fully capture all aspects of the German legal text).
If you want more information Social Counselling offers open hours, or you can make an individual appointment.
Support during your job search and application is provided by the tutors from comeTOgether. In addition, you can find a blackboard with job bulletins in front of the office.
There are different kinds of jobs, with varying rules:
• mini-job (538 €-job)
A mini-job is a job that is short-term and has a restricted amount of working hours. The maximum amount of money that can be earned with a mini-job is 538 € per month. Unlike a "working student" position a mini-job does not require one to be student.
• working student and the 20 hour rule (see below)
• more than a mini-job (regular income between 538,01-2.000 €, midi-job)
A midi-job means more working hours and a maximum income per month of 2.000 €. The legal prerequisites are the same for everyone (students included). An international student (non-EU) has less working hours per year available, than a student with German nationality. If you are an international student you should be well informed about the working hours available to you, when applying for a midi-job.
• holiday work during semester break (see below)
Even when you are self-employed as a student the 20 hour rule applies. If you work more than that every week during a semester the student status will be lost. The change in status will lead to losing the student health insurance rates. The exact nature of the self-employed status relies on what it looks like. We strongly recommend that you have a good grasp of the German language before choosing this option. Furthermore, the information is only available in German (more information). Please be aware: students from non-EU countries do not have the option to become self-employed!
Positions for working students are beneficial for employers and to some extent employees, since it is exempt from a lot of taxes and fees that apply to normal jobs. The precondition for a working student position is that getting a degree is still the main focus of the student. The hours a working student can work per week cannot be more than 20. Although, there are a few exceptions.
• More than 20 hours per week during the semester
Starting from the 1st of January 2017 new provisions regarding working hours during the semester have been implemented. Even if a student works during the evening or night shifts the contract must be temporary (if the working hours go above 20 hours per week). A permanent job that has more than 20 hours a week is no longer possible.
• During the semester break
If you are working exclusively during the semester break, even if you are above 20 hours per week, you will fall under the working student provisions.
However, if you are working in different jobs and your working hours are above 182 full working days in a year you jeopardize your student status. International students from non-EU-countries have less working hours per year available and cannot go above 120 full working days. Be aware: the hours might not be equivalent to the working days counted as full working days, since above a certain number of hours (most often more than 4) a day will be counted as a full working day.
The working student provisions do not apply in some situations. Please talk to Social Counselling or inform yourself about the legal provisions of your working situation. This is especially important for international students from non-EU-countries, since your residence permit can be impacted.
Those who only work during the semester breaks remain basically exempt from social security contributions, regardless of the level of income.
Anyone who works only during the semester breaks and pursues a short-term occupation remains basically exempt from social security contributions, regardless of the level of income. Short-term employment may last a maximum of three months or 70 working days per calendar year.
Taxes are only payable if the basic allowance of 11.604 EUR (as of 2024) is reached. If the annual salary is less than this amount, any wage tax paid can be refunded within the framework of an income tax assessment.
• Health and nursing care insurance and unemployment insurance
Those who only have a job during the semester break and still have a mini-job during the semester, for example, can still remain in the student health insurance. For students with family insurance, their membership in the family insurance ends if the income limit is exceeded for more than three months within one year (538 € in a mini-job otherwise 505 € (as of 2024) gross). If it is already clear at the beginning of your job that this will be the case, the family insurance ends immediately. In this case, you must take out health insurance yourself.
• Pension insurance:
Pension insurance contributions are only due if more than three months or 70 working days per calendar year.
For students who receive BAföG, it is important to keep an eye on the income limit during the grant period - not to be confused with the calendar year. In this case, the income may not exceed 6.456 € euros (as of 2024).
During the BAföG grant period (not calendar year!), you can earn up to 538 € per month (Minijob) without the amount of your BAföG grant changing.
Different rules apply to other forms of employment, and additional allowances may be possible. The subject is very complex, if you have any questions, please contact the BAföG Office. Detailed information (only in German)
In general, everyone who earns money also has to pay social contributions / taxes. Fortunately, there are exceptions to this rule:
With a mini-job you can earn up to 538 euros a month without having to pay social security contributions. However, this income limit applies to all mini-jobs together. Several smaller mini-jobs are added together. You can be exempted from the pension insurance upon application. If the 538 € limit is exceeded, the working student privilege comes into effect.
• Working student job
Here, only pension insurance contributions are paid, but no other social security contributions, such as unemployment insurance and health insurance and nursing care insurance contributions, are deducted from the salary. You may work up to 20 hours per week. During the semester break a weekly working time of 40 hours is no problem. The only thing to be aware of is that no more than 26 weeks or 182 calendar days per year are worked full-time.
For earnings between 538 Euro and 2.000 Euro the sliding zone regulation applies: the contributions to the pension insurance are calculated lower in favour of the net income. Taxes are due according to the wage tax class. Social security contributions are calculated on an increasing scale. Only from 2000 € on the full contribution rate to the social security contributions has to be paid. Students who are working within the framework of the working student regulation only pay the proportional contributions to the pension insurance. Further information (only in German)
Those who do not work for more than three months or 70 working days per calendar year do not have to pay social security contributions and taxes.
In general, taxes are only payable if the basic allowance of 11.604 € (as of 2024) is reached. If the annual salary is lower, any wage tax paid can be refunded within the framework of an income tax assessment. For students who receive BAföG, it is important to keep an eye on the income limit during the approval period - not to be confused with the calendar year. In this case, the income may not exceed 6.456 € or 538 € in the minijob (as of 2024).
No study without health insurance. But what happens if I work part-time?
The following explanations only refer to those with statutory health insurance.
• Family Insurance
People under 25 years of age are insured with their parents' health insurance company if they do not earn more than €470 or a mini-job, no more than €450 per month. Family insurance membership ends if the income limit is exceeded for more than three months within a year. If it is already clear at the beginning of the job that this will be the case, the family insurance ends immediately. In this case, you must take out health insurance yourself. Practice shows that every case is very different from one person to another, so it is best to contact your health insurance company in advance and clarify the details.
• Student Health Insurance
From the age of 25 or if your earnings are too high for the family insurance, you must insure yourself in the student health insurance. As a rule, this is valid until the semester in which you turn 30. In order to remain in the student health insurance, you may not work more than 20 hours a week during the semester or full-time during the semester breaks.
If you have several jobs over the course of a year (365 days in a row), each with a working time of more than 20 hours a week, and you are employed for a total of more than 26 weeks, you cannot remain in the student health insurance scheme.
• (Half) orphans
From 2017 onwards, student (half-)orphans who are over 25 and who have been insured for health up to 27 under the half-orphan's pension will no longer be able to be insured under the half-orphan's pension. They must then insure themselves via the student KV.
Even if you are self-employed during your studies, you may still be able to remain insured as a student. However, you may not employ any employees and you may not be self-employed for more than 20 hours per week.
Further information (only available in german)
With the introduction of the electronic wage tax deduction features (ELStAM), the wage tax card in paper form was replaced by an electronic procedure. Employers are obliged to retrieve their employees' ELStAM electronically and to base the wage tax deduction on this.
You as an employee do not have to apply for an income tax card. Instead, you simply inform your employer of your tax identification number and date of birth at the beginning of the employment relationship. The employer then informs the Federal Central Tax Office (BZSt) of these data (in technical jargon: wage tax deduction features) and enters them in your wage account. The eleven-digit number is valid for life and is assigned by default - so you do not need to apply for the number separately. If you do not yet have a tax identification number, e.g. as an international student, simply ask the relevant tax office. The tax office will then request the tax ID from the BZSt.
• Minimum wage
Students also have the right to the statutory minimum wage of 12,41 € (as of 2024) per hour.
In principle, students who work are also entitled to leave. According to the Federal Leave Act, the leave entitlement for full employment, i.e. a 40 hour week on five days, is at least 20 days per year. If a student works 20 hours a week, he or she is entitled to half that amount, i.e. 10 days of vacation per year. However, the full holiday entitlement only exists if the employment relationship has already lasted six months. If less than 20 hours a week are worked, the leave days are calculated proportionately. However, the individual leave entitlement can be higher if a collective agreement, a company agreement or an employment contract stipulates this. Only lower is not possible!
• Certificate of employment
Of course you also have the right to a job reference. For example, if you have worked as a working student for some time, this will have a positive effect on your application. A job reference contains information about the company and a brief description of your field of activity. It is also important that the length of time from when to when you worked for the company and your full personal details are included.
Most important of all, however, is a detailed list of your area of activity. Finally, an assessment of your person follows. The assessment formulations are a science in themselves. If you are unsure what the exact wording means, get a "translation aid". Every Thursday afternoon, for example, an employee of the employment agency sits outside the doors of the comeTOgether office. This office is located on the first floor of the Mensa Stadtmitte. Once there, go into the left wing of the cafeteria and follow the corridor to the end.
• Continued payment of wages in the event of illness
Every employee is entitled to 100% wage payments for up to 6 weeks even in case of illness. This applies even to part-time jobs with varying weekly working hours, in which you are employed for a "service" at more or less short notice: If the assignment is agreed and you fall ill at short notice, you will still receive full pay. If you are ill for a longer period of time, the average wage is decisive. Detailed information (only available in german)
many offers for this.
We have compiled an overview for you on the page Jobs and Profession - find and apply.