In Germany there is the model of Zeitarbeit. However, many people especially from abroad do not know this model yet. We therefore explain here: What is Zeitarbeit?
What is Zeitarbeit?
Zeitarbeit is a form of employment in which employees are hired by a temporary employment agency and then loaned out. Synonyms for Zeitarbeit are employee leasing, temporary employment, loaned work or personnel leasing. Such temporary assignments often last only a few months.
Zeitarbeit is possible in a variety of industries. Zeitarbeit is particularly common in the following industries:
- Electrical industry
- Metal industry
- Protection and security
- Transport and logistics
Zeitarbeit is also found in the service industry, especially in the area of care in Germany.
Employee leasing, also known as temporary employment, is a form of Zeitarbeit. Temporary workers therefore always have a fixed-term employment relationship. However, most assignments last only three months to one year. Temporary workers therefore change employers on a regular basis and are assigned to this by the temporary employment agency. The maximum period for which a temporary worker can be assigned to a company is 18 months under the German Personnel Leasing Act (Arbeitnehmerüberlassungsgesetz).
Collective agreements and company agreements within the framework of a collective agreement can lead to different regulations. An employment relationship is established between the temporary worker and the hirer if a work assignment exceeds the maximum permitted duration. Employees can comply with this by signing a declaration.
Temporary work usually involves activities that are easy to learn and do not require exceptional skills, for example:
- operating machinery
- packaging products
- picking orders
- loading deliveries
- quality assurance
- assembling components and subassemblies.
Advantages of Zeitarbeit
Zeitarbeit offers low-skilled workers the opportunity to find a job quickly. The barriers to doing so are lower than for many other jobs. Temporary agencies can help you quickly get into a job from which you can advance. With the help of Zeitarbeit, you can orient yourself professionally and you can build a network with companies in a short time and use it throughout your career.
When you do Zeitarbeit, you don’t have to sign an employment contract every time – the temp agency takes care of a lot of the bureaucratic work for you. Especially for migrants, Zeitarbeit is often a good stepping stone: They often have difficulties getting their vocational training in Germany recognized or cannot find a job for other reasons, even though they are competent.
For them, temporary employment can be a springboard to gain experience and show what they can do. Zeitarbeit is also an option for those looking for a fresh start in their careers for the same reasons.
Zeitarbeit brings a degree of security for newcomers, those returning to work or those changing careers. This is because employees are entitled to payments from the temporary employment agency even if no potential employer is interested in them at the moment. In addition, they usually have a long-term employment contract.
What rules apply to working as a temporary employee?
The German Temporary Employment Act regulates the rights and obligations of temporary workers. They are employed by the lender (temporary employment agency), but are subject to the hirer’s instructions in their work. Temporary workers are integrated into the hirer’s company organization and are often given a working time account through which their working time is recorded.
According to the principle of equality, temporary workers have the same rights as other employees in the hirer’s company. These include:
- Working time
- Vacation time
- Occupational health and safety
- Protection against dismissal
- Continued payment of wages in the event of illness or incapacity to work.
In most cases, temporary employees receive a lower hourly wage than their permanent colleagues. As a rule, daily earnings are made up of a basic salary, supplements and lump sums for travel expenses and overnight stays. However, there are statutory minimum hourly rates in Zeitarbeit that must always be observed.
After nine months at the latest, everyone is entitled to the same wage as the permanent workforce in the company. This is stipulated in order to avoid wage dumping. If there are no more than three months between assignments, several assignments are combined at one hirer. This also applies if different temporary employment agencies have lent a temporary worker to the hirer.
Zeitarbeit also has disadvantages
The often quite low pay is one of the main arguments against short-term employment in the form of Zeitarbeit. This is especially true for people who might have gotten a better paying job if they had stayed in their current position. In Zeitarbeit, you also often encounter shift work.
Although you have a certain say in which company and in which function you want to be employed, you may also have to do activities that you don’t particularly like at times.
Choose the right temporary employment agency
There are many different temporary employment agencies in Germany – large and small, specialized or generalist. If you choose Zeitarbeit, check your Zeitarbeit agency for these criteria:
- Does the temp agency have a license to hire workers?
- What conditions are there for you? Compare the contracts of the different temporary employment agencies carefully!
- How long is the employment contract?
- What salary can you expect?
- Which fields of activity do you have to accept according to the contract?
- In which area are there jobs for you?
When choosing a temporary employment agency, you should do your homework and learn as much as possible about the company. It is also worth asking other workers how they liked working with the particular temporary employment agency.