7. Training glossary: from written warnings to reference code


An Abmahnung is a written warning issued by an employer, wherein they reprimand an employee for behaviour that violates the employment agreement. Consequences are generally laid out, mostly termination of employment. Generally, an effective written warning is a requirement for behaviour-based termination. If you receive a written warning, you should contact your union or works/staff council or JAV to discuss whether and how you can contest it.


Abschlussprüfung means final exam, and this is where you prove that you have the right job-related skills and knowledge for your chosen career. Requirements for the exam are a properly filled out written training report (report book) and a successfully completed interim exam.


Akkordarbeit means piece-work. A certain number of products must be completed within a set time. Piece-work is generally associated with health-related risks, so is not allowed for certain groups e.g. pregnant women and young people under 18 (Youth Workers Protection Act JArbSchG §23). Occupational training may include piece-work but it should be the exception.


Akkordlohn means piece-work wage and means that you are paid according to how much work you do. If piece-work wages apply, the works council or staff council has the right to weigh in on the conditions under which these wages are paid.


Arbeitgeber or Arbeitgeberin refers to an employer, and is anyone that employs people in exchange for a wage.


Arbeitgeberverbände are employer associations. They represent the interests of employers and, for example, enter into tariff contracts. Employer groups also attempt to use PR, campaigns and institutes to influence public opinion in their favour – often by arguing against unions.


Arbeitnehmerinnen and Arbeitnehmer are employees; they work in order to earn their livelihoods. In legal terms: they provide dependent work based on another party’s instructions. Trainees are leaning a career, but are legally considered employees nevertheless.


The Arbeitsgericht refers to a labour court responsible for all disputes relating to work and training contracts. As all other courts, there are different authorities: the labour court (first tier), state labour court (second tier) and the federal labour court (third tier).


Arbeitskleidung means work clothing, and its is not generally provided to trainees. Operational agreements, for example, could contain other stipulations. If, however, work clothing fulfils a protective function in order to prevent accidents and hazards, it is protective clothing and should be solely paid for by the company and/or training provider.


Arbeitslosengeld I means primary unemployment benefit and can be applied for by people who paid contributions for the last 24 months before becoming unemployed, and that are registered as unemployed. The length of a person’s eligibility depends on their age and previous insurance duration. The amount paid is approximately 60 percent (approx. 67 percent for people with children) of the person’s previous net income.


Arbeitslosengeld II (also called Hartz IV) is secondary unemployment benefit received by those in need of support and capable of working. The rejection of any reasonable work offers shall result in sanctions, such as a reduction in secondary unemployment benefit. Young people under 25 are subject to strict additional regulations. The youth union is critical towards this secondary unemployment benefit, as work offers beneath the person’s qualifications or under tariff payment levels must also be accepted.


The Arbeitsschutzgesetz (ArbSchG) is The Working Conditions Act, and it contains all occupational safety obligations for both employers and employees.


Arbeitsschutzkleidung refers to protective work clothing, which should prevent accidents and other hazards. Steel-cap boots, helmets, protective goggles and safety gloves are all protective work clothing, and should be paid for by the employer or training provider.


The Arbeitsstättenverordnung (ArbStättV) are workplace regulations, which regulate workplaces, work rooms, infrastructure etc. Significant criteria include ventilation, lighting, temperature, noise and room size – set minimums are provided for these in order to protect employees.


Arbeits- und Gesundheitsschutz refers to occupational health and safety, and includes all operational measures that ensure employees’ health and safety. This also includes certain construction measures and protective work clothing.


Arbeits- und Sozialrechtsschutz refers to legal support in matters relating to labour and social welfare law. Often, the law must be contended. A legal support secretary at your union can provide a lot of support in disputes before the labour court or social welfare court. In order to use this protection, you must be a member of a DGB union. See also: Rechtsschutz.


Arbeitszeit refers to work time; this is the time from the beginning to the end of your work without breaks. There are legal regulations for employees’ maximum working times – maximum working times are normally lower for young people under 18. According to the Working Times Act, work time can be no longer than 10 hours per day, and can be shared across 6 days per week. Average weekly work time cannot exceed 48 hours per week. Young people are not normally allowed to work more than 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week in accordance with the Youth Workers Protection Act. Often, tariff contracts include more generous regulations on working times than the statutory minimums.


Arbeitszeugnis – this is an employer reference that you can request from your employer after the end of your work. You can also request an interim reference during your employment under certain circumstances. A “simple reference” includes information about you and your tasks, and how long you were employed for.

However, a “qualified reference” also includes information about your performance and behaviour.


Aufhebungsvertrag refers to a cancellation agreement, a contract between you and your trainer expressing that you both agree to end your training prematurely. As a trainer cannot terminate a training agreement without good reason, employers often offer a cancellation agreement in order to get rid of a trainee. The risk of signing this cancellation agreement is not only that you might not be able to finish your training, but also that you may face a twelve-week sanction of unemployment benefit, as the Ministry for Work punishes voluntary termination with a block on benefits.


Ausbildende is the other party that signs your training contract with you, the trainer. For most businesses, this is the employer. They provide your occupational training. They can task your actual training to other employees, or trainers.


Ausbilder or Ausbilderin refers to the person within a business that is responsible for your training; a trainer. They are responsible for providing you with all the knowledge and skills you need, and they can reach out to other experienced, specialist employees for this. Trainers must be personally suitable and qualified for the training process.


Ausbildungsfremde Tätigkeiten are non-training tasks; tasks that are not included in your training framework plan and that are either not necessary for your chosen career or that are being carried out to an extent that is not required for your chosen career. These tasks stand in the way of you learning other training content. Non-training tasks are not allowed – they should be avoided so that trainees are not exploited as cheap labour.


Ausbildungsmittel means training materials, and refers to tools and materials that are necessary for occupational training and for passing your interim and final exams. Training materials must be provided free of charge. This does not apply to materials required for your vocational school.


An Ausbildungsnachweis is your completed report book. The properly filled out and signed report book is required in order for you to be able to sit your final exam, and you are allowed to fill it out during work time.


Ausbildungsordnungen are training regulations that are issued by ministries, unions and employers for all recognised careers for which training is offered. Training regulations must include a minimum of a description of the career, the duration of training, an occupational profile, a factual and temporal breakdown (training framework plan), and examination requirements.


An Ausbildungsplan is a training plan, intended to expand on the training framework plan. It provides information about when what information should be taught in which department within your company.


An Ausbildungsrahmenplan is a training framework plan. It includes all occupational skills and knowledge required for your chosen career and to pass your final exams. It also generally includes a breakdown according to time and content. The training content laid out in the training framework plan must be taught during your occupational training.


Ausbildungsvergütung is the training allowance paid during your training, and it has to be reasonable in accordance with §17 of the BBiG. This pay is based on your industry, chosen career, year of training and type of training. You can find an overview of different careers and their pay scales on our website www.jugend.dgb.de as well as in the “montag” magazine. If your pay is considerably lower than the local average for your field, you should contact your union for advice. §17, paragraph 1 of the BBiG states that you have the right to reasonable remuneration. The Minimum Wage Act unfortunately does not apply to trainees (§23, paragraph 3 of the MiLoG). Accordance to the application of justice, compensation is deemed reasonable as long as it helps support the trainee and their parents to cover the cost of living, acting as a minimum income. We can presume from the application of justice that compensation is not reasonable if it is more than 20% lower than the tariff remuneration for that industry and region. If there are no applicable tariff regulations, you can refer to recommendations from the relevant trade guild or chamber of industry. This must be based on current tariff contracts and recommendations, and these may differ from what was valid at the beginning of your training.

The state allows training places supported by public funds to significantly undercut this 80% threshold, i.e. if your training is supported by public funds and/or donations, your income during training could be significantly lower than that of other similar trainees. Training compensation must increase as your skills improve, at least once a year. It is calculated on a monthly basis (§18 of the BBiG)


An Ausbildungsvertrag is a training contract and it must set out all significant content of your training in writing before you start your training. The training contract must include certain information. It must be signed by you, or your parents if you are not yet legally an adult, and your trainer. You must be given a copy of this contract.


An Ausbildungszeugnis is a training reference to confirm you have completed your training. It is issued after your training and must include information about the type, duration and aim of your training as well as the occupational skills and knowledge gained by you. If you request one, your trainer also has to provide you with a qualified reference. If your trainer did not write it themselves, the reference should be signed by your trainer. In general, the same applies to training references as to employment references.


The Ausbildungsziel is the aim of your training – this is to acquire the occupational skills and knowledge required to carry out your chosen career. These should be taught within a specific training time in accordance with the training framework plan.


Außerbetriebliche Ausbildung describes non-commercial training whereby the training contract is entered into with a training institution, and the practical part of the training is carried out at this institution and through internship placements. In contrast to dual training, non-commercial trainees cannot set up a JAV, often earn less money and cannot be hired after training. However, non-commercial trainees still have rights and can appoint representatives in accordance with the Occupational Training Act.



BAföG means student finance, and trainees taking part in full-time vocational school courses can apply for this kind of financial support. It is calculated in a similar way to Occupational Training Support (BAB) and can be applied for via the Office for Educational Support.


Berichtsheft refers to your training report book (see Ausbildungsnachweis).


Berufsausbildungsbeihilfe (BAB) is Occupational Training Support and is intended for people participating in vocational training as well as for trainees taking part in dual training or non-practical occupational training. Depending on the trainee’s income, and that of their parents, financial help for living and clothing, transport and GEZ fees may be provided. You can contact the Ministry for Work for more information about financial support. Trainees in full-time vocational school courses cannot apply for BAB, but they can apply for BAföG at the Office for Educational Support.


The Berufsbildungsgesetz (BBiG) is the Occupational Training Act, and it includes the most important regulations that affect your training.

For example, the BBiG states that you must be taught all relevant knowledge and skills in the training framework plan, and that training materials are to be provided to you free of charge.


Berufsgenossenschaften are trade associations. They provide statutory accident insurance, making them a significant part of the social security system. They are paid contributions by employers to insure all employees against accidents at work. Trade associations insure employees against occupational health problems, work accidents or accidents on the way to work and school.


A Berufsschule is a vocational school, and provides a second place of learning for trainees alongside the business or training provider where they do their practical placement. The vocational school expands on previous general education and teaches basic and further vocational training. Lessons may take place on individual days of the week, or be grouped together as block lessons over at least one week. There are specific rules that govern the granting of free time for vocational school, and the recognition of vocational school hours as work hours.


Beschäftigte or abhängig Beschäftigte is another term for employees. The term ‘abhängig Beschäftige’, ‘dependent employees’, highlights that these workers are dependent on work to support themselves.


Betriebliche Ausbildung refers to a type of on-the-job training, whereby the training contract is entered into with a company, and the practical parts of training are completed within this company.


A Betriebsrat is a works council; a council elected to represent the interests of all employees within the company. They are able to participate in and contribute to certain decisions, meaning that they are able to influence the way the company is set up from the employees’ point of view. What is called a works council in private businesses is called a staff council in public services.


Betriebsvereinbarungen are operational agreements, and these are entered into between the works council and the employer – this may also be called a ‘Dienstvereinbarung’ in public services. They can, for example, include rules about work times, breaks or subsidisations for travel or canteen food, and apply to the company’s employees as laid out in the operational agreement.


The Betriebsverfassungsgesetz (BetrVG) is the Works Constitution Act, and this is the legal basis for the participation afforded to the works council (BR) and the youth and trainee representation body (JAV). It regulates the selection of BRs and JAVs, as well as their tasks and rights. In public services, this is replaced by individual personal representation laws issued by the federal or local government.


Bewerbung means application – this is how you express your interest in a training position or job. If you are deemed to be suitable, you will be invited to an interview, which could then result in your acceptance. An application test may also be required.


The term Bildungsträger means training institution, and this term covers a lot of different kinds of training providers.

Together, this term refers to training providers that don’t have their own economic aim (e.g. manufacturing and selling cars), rather exclusively focus on the practical training of trainees. That’s why trainees at non-commercial training providers don’t have the right to elect a JAV in accordance with the Works Constitution Act or other personal representation laws. However, trainees at non-commercial training providers can set up their own interest representation (IV) in order to promote their interests and requests.


The term Bildungsurlaub means educational leave, and it refers to paid leave from work for specific educational activities. They do not encroach on holiday days, as they are provided separately. They could be used for a language trip to Spain, a computer course, or a seminar on training quality. As training is divided by state in Germany, there are different rules and approaches in each individual state. We recommend contacting your local union to find out more. All holiday days listed below are based on a five-day week. This means that your entitlement would be considerably lower if you work fewer days per week. Some applicable laws may include regulations that outline how many days employees are entitled to if working more or fewer days per week.

  • Bavaria: Unfortunately, this state has no educational leave law. If you would still like to visit seminars, contact the union responsible for you.
  • Baden-Württemberg: The educational leave law for this state (BzG BW) came into effect on 01.07.2015. Trainees have the right to five working days during their training time, but this can only be used for political education. After 12 months of employment, employees have the right to five working days of educational leave per year if employed full-time. There are, unfortunately, more legal limitations that allow the employer to refuse leave requests.
  • Berlin: If you are under 25 and have been in training for at least six months, you can take ten working days of educational leave per year. If you are over the age of 25, you can take ten working days of educational leave within two calendar years. There are some limitations here as well.
  • Brandenburg: If you have been in training for at least six months, you have the right to ten working days of educational leave within two calendar years. There are some limitations.
  • Bremen: If you have been in training for at least six months, you have the right to ten working days of educational lave within two calendar years.
  • Hamburg: If you have been in training for at least six months, you have the right to ten working days of educational leave within two calendar years.
  • Hessen: If you have been in training for at least six months, you can take five working days of educational leave per year. There are some possibilities for your employer to limit this.
  • Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: If you have been in training for at least six months, you can take five working days of educational leave in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania once during your training time either for political education or for education necessary for volunteer work. After your training, you will be able to take five days per year, and there is no longer any restrictions on the specific purpose of the education. There are still some chances for your employer to limit this.
  • Lower Saxony: If you have been in training for at least six months, you can either take five working days of educational leave per year or, under certain circumstances, two working days within two years. Your employer may be able to limit this.
  • North Rhine-Westphalia: Trainees have the right to five working days during training for political education. Employees are allowed five working days per year. There are still some chances for your employer to limit this.
  • Rhineland-Palatinate: If you have been in training for at least six months, you have the right to five working days of educational leave per training year for socio-political education, as long as your training is not affected. After training, you can take ten working days of educational leave within two calendar years. There are still some chances for your employer to limit this.
  • Saarland: Only political or occupational further education is available in this state. If you have been in training for at least twelve months, you have the right to three working days of educational leave per year, which can be increased by the same amount of your own free time. Additional educational leave is possible in some circumstances. There are limitations here as well.
  • Saxony: Unfortunately, this state has no educational leave law. If you would still like to visit seminars, contact the union responsible for you.
  • Saxony-Anhalt: If you have been in training for at least six months, you can take five working days of educational leave per year. You could also have the right to ten working days of educational leave within two calendar years. There are restrictions for small businesses.
  • Schleswig-Holstein: If you have been in training for at least six months, you can take five working days of educational leave per year. In certain circumstances, you may be able to take ten working days of educational leave within two calendar years.
  • Thuringia: As of 01.01.2016, Thuringia finally allows educational leave for employees and trainees. A waiting time of six months applies before you can claim your 3 days within a calendar year, rather than the standard 5. These days may be carried forward to the next year in some cases. Sadly, there are further limitations that either negate your entitlement or allow your employer to reject educational leave applications.


The aim of the Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz (BAföG), or the Federal Education and Training Assistance Act, is to make education possible for all young people, regardless of their social or economic status. If trainees or students, and their parents or spouses/partners are not able to provide sufficient financial support, BAföG offers support in the form of a grant or loan. BAföG is paid for school training or university studies.



A Dienstvereinbarung, or operational agreement, is an agreement between the staff council and employer within public services. It only applies to the relevant public office, and could contain regulations about break times, canteen food etc. Also see ‘Betriebsvereinbarung’


The Duale System is a dual training system, where trainees are taught both in a business and in a vocational school, and enter into a training contract with the owner of the business (trainer). Practical training is carried out as on-the-job training.



Ein-Euro-Job means one-euro job. These are low-paid employment programmes for the unemployed. Unemployed people can earn extra money by, for example, working for charity. Unfortunately, some companies exploit these cheap workers and use them to replace normal employees.


Erholungsurlaub means “relaxation holiday” – see Urlaub.


An Erstuntersuchung is the initial examination carried out to establish the health of a young person under the age of 18 before they begin their training. It is legally binding.


Elterngeld is a parental benefit paid to parents whose children were born after 01.01.2007. If one parent reduces their employment to between 15 hours and 30 hours per work or completely stops working, they can claim parental benefit for a maximum of twelve months.

This period can be extended for two further months if the second parent takes at least two months of parental leave, or if the applicant is a single parent. There is now also the possibility to apply for Elterngeld Plus, where each parent can apply for an additional 4 months of benefits if both parents work between 25 and 30 hours for 4 consecutive months. This parental benefit is 67 percent of the average net income for the previous year, capped at a maximum of 1,800 euros and a minimum of 300 euros for the unemployed. Parents earning less than 1,000 euros can increase the benefit rate to 100 percent. The rate can be reduced to 65 percent for net incomes over 1,200 euros. The benefits are increased for siblings and multiple births. With a few exceptions, parental benefit is calculated as income on top of secondary unemployment benefit, social benefit and child benefit. You can find out more on www.bmfsfj.de or by contacting your union.


Elternzeit refers to parental leave, i.e. paternity and maternity leave, after the birth of a child. Parents can claim for unpaid leave from work and benefit from special termination protection. One or both parents can take parental leave. This leave is usually limited to a maximum of three years. During this time, parents are allowed to take up part-time employment of up to 30 hours per week. Parental leave must be requested at least seven weeks before the desired start date in writing. The parent must also declare to the company how long parental leave will be taken. During parental leave, parents can apply for partial parental benefit (see Elterngeld).



Fachabitur refers to a vocational Abitur qualification, which gives you access to universities all across Germany. You can complete your vocational Abitur at a vocational college. These schools generally require a certificate of education from a Realschule (comprehensive school) and successfully completed occupational training.


A Fachhochschule is a vocational university, where you can study after completing your vocational Abitur.


A Fachoberschule is a vocational college, where you can complete your vocational Abitur.


If a trainee was absent a lot during their training, and there are too many Fehlzeiten, or absences, recorded in their training, they may not be allowed to sit their final exam. The oft-quoted 10 percent rule does not dictate whether someone will be accepted or not. This is more likely to depend on whether significant training content for your chosen profession was taught during these absences. The question of whether absences are too extensive, therefore, is subjective. We can presume from the application of justice that absences are too significant if they exceed 30 percent.


The Freiwillige Soziale oder Ökologische Jahr is a voluntary service for men and women. During this voluntary social or ecological year out, you can work in a public facility and potentially gain experience for your future career.



A gesetzlicher Vertreter or gesetzliche Vertreterin is a legal representative that legally represents a minor e.g. when entering into an occupational training contract. In most cases, this is a parent. From your 18th birthday, you will legally be an adult and can make your own legal decisions.


Gewerkschaften are unions, and they are made up of dependent employees. They represent their interests and the interests of employees in general. Membership of a union is voluntary but advised. Membership generally costs a certain percentage of your gross monthly income. The umbrella organisation for unions is the DGB – the Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund.


Gleichberechtigung refers to equal rights and opportunities for men and women. Even through equality is required by law, the reality is often different. Women still get paid a quarter less for doing the same job, and don’t have as much representation in business and politics.



The Handwerksordnung, or Crafts Code, provides the legal basis for carrying out craft careers and organisation within the industry.



Insolvenz, or insolvency, is when a company is not able to meet their payment obligations, or if they will soon not be able to do so. After insolvency has been declared, insolvency proceedings can be initiated. An insolvency administrator is allocated to either restore the company’s ability to meet their payment obligations or to liquidate the company in order to satisfy existing creditor claims, e.g. from banks, business partners or employees. You should continue your training during the insolvency process. Affected employees and trainees can apply at the Agency for Work for insolvency payments to cover a maximum of three months’ unpaid wages.



Jugend- und Auszubildendenvertretung (JAV) refers to youth and trainee representation, who represent the interests of young employees and trainees under the age of 25. JAV has the legal right to advocate for youth-specific interests in matters such as training quality or the maintenance of training places.


The Jungendarbeitsschutzgesetz (JArbSchG) is the Youth Workers Protection Act and it applies to all employees under the age of 18 – regardless of whether they are trainees, helpers, interns or trained employees. The law limits things like work times and fields of employment for the protection of young people, and sets out a higher minimum for breaks, holidays etc.



Kindergeld means child benefit, and it is usually paid for children under the age of 18. However, it can be paid until the age of 25, as long as you are in education (school, occupational training or university) or are looking for a training place or a job after your training programme, and as long as you are not regularly working more than 20 hours per week. 190 euros are allocated monthly for the first and second child, while 196 euros is allocated for the third child, and 221 euros for any further children. Child benefit can be applied for via the relevant family association – this is usually based within the Ministry for Work.


Klassensprecherinnen and Klassensprecher are class spokespeople, who are elected to represent school classes’ interests. They advocate for student problems either at the school conference or in meetings with teachers. This form of representation can also help with problems with individual teachers.


A statutory Krankenkasse, or health insurance provider, offers health insurance that all dependent employees have to have. From a certain income threshold, it is possible to change to a private health insurance provider or to be a voluntary holder of statutory health insurance. There are various providers, such as the Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse (AOK), alternatives such as Barmer, business health insurance providers and craft guild insurance providers, which mostly focus on a specific industry.


Krankenversicherung means health insurance, and it is a main column of the social security system.

This health insurance means that employees are protected against absence from work due to long-term illness, for instance. Social security contributions are generally shared by the employer and employee, where the employee proportion is slightly higher. All supplementary payments, such as prescription charges, must be paid by the employee alone. Social security contributions are calculated based on a certain percentage rate, so that the contribution increases as income rises. This obligation to pay social security contributions unfortunately does not apply to high incomes (insurance obligation threshold). In 2016, this limit is 56,250.00 euros per year, and the contribution assessment threshold, i.e. the maximum sum from which contributions are taken, is 50,850.00 euros per year for statutory health insurance and care insurance.


Kriegsdienstverweigerung means conscientious objection to military service. The central authority for the rights and protection of conscientious objects provides up-to-date information on their website www.zentralstelle-kdv.de. As of 1st July 2011, general national service has been suspended. At this time, no young men are forced to join the armed forces for mandatory service.


Kündigung, or termination, is the one-sided ending of an employment agreement by the employer or employee. Termination mostly comes with a notice period, regardless of how long you were with the company, so your employer cannot simply terminate your employment with immediate effect.

If it comes to it, you should contact your union for advice about how to contest a termination. Trainees can only be dismissed without notice and without important grounds during their probation period. Afterwards, a trainee’s employment contract can only be terminated on important grounds (such as theft, repeated absence etc). A termination must be made in writing. If you would like to contest a termination, you must do so within the first three weeks of receiving your termination notification!


The Kündigungsschutzgesetz, or Protection Against Dismissal Act, exclusively deals with the topics of termination and termination law. This act provides information about when a dismissal is not socially justified, and therefore can be challenged at court. This protection against dismissal only applies to employees working for longer than six months in a company with more than 10 employees, not including trainees. §22 of the BBiG applies to terminating trainee contracts.


Kurzarbeit means short-time work, which is when an employee’s work times and wages are reduced during difficult financial times in order to reduce staff costs and avoid dismissals. The docked proportion of the wage can be compensated by the Ministry for Work by up to approximately 60 percent (or 67 percent if the employee has children) in the form of short-time work compensation. The employer must have exercised all means to avoid short-time work for trainers in the company before implementing this measure. Short-time work for trainees should only be implemented in exceptional cases.



Minusstunden – What happens if your employer suddenly sends you home as there is “no work”, or allocates less than your agreed weekly training time (e.g. to “save” hours for later)? Is there such a thing as undertime? Being sent home because there isn’t enough work does not mean that you have to recover the time or that your wages will be docked. The trainer alone carries the risk of not being able to occupy you – they cannot pass this onto you by making you make up the time or docking your pay (§19, paragraph 1, section 2, letter a) of the BBiG and §615 of the BGB). Because “work time” during training serves the purpose of teaching you everything you need to know for your career, it should not be possible that a rota does not include your monthly work time. You could argue, for example, that daily work time must be laid out in the training contract (§11, paragraph 1, section 4 of the BBiG), and that this makes the trainer responsible for teaching you everything you need for your occupational training at all times – and that they did not fulfil this obligation if they did not train you within the agreed time. You could also argue that reduced remuneration due to insufficient work time caused by the employer is no longer reasonable pay (not high enough) in the sense of §17, paragraph 1 of the BBiG. In such a case, it is mostly presumed that planned training is cancelled and therefore you keep your claim to full compensation and do not have to make up these hours.

If one of these cases does apply, you should declare either in writing or in the presence of a reliable witness your willingness to complete your training on the days in question to the extent outlined in your contract (the full daily work time). You should then exercise your claim to full remuneration and/or full work time in writing to your trainer. If you need any help with this, or if your trainer still wants to dock your pay or make you make up the hours, please contact your works/staff council and union.


Mitbestimmung is the specialist term that refers to the works or staff council’s right to participate in the decision making processes in the company and other opportunities for employees to influence the company, such as entering into tariff contracts or setting up an advisory board. A “full” or “real” participation in the sense of the Works Constitutions Act and local personal representation laws applies if a works or staff council have to give their approval for a project or are completely included in the set-up of any measures. There are also rights of cooperation and information.


The term Mobbing means bullying and comes from the English word “mob”, meaning to “crowd around noisily, accost, attack”. Bullying means psychological terror at the workplace, and it can happen anywhere that people are together in groups over long periods of time. Bullying can take a range of forms, e.g. harassment, scheming, disingenuousness, lies and deception.

If it is a boss doing this bullying, it can also be called “bossing”. You must stand up against bullying. Your union will support you.


The Mutterschutzgesetz (MuSchG) is the German Maternity Protection Act, and it protects expectant and young mothers from health hazards at the workplace. §1 of the law states “Anyone employing an expectant or breastfeeding mother must take measures to protect the health and safety of the expectant or breastfeeding mother, in both the set-up and maintenance of the workplace, including all machines, tools and devices and employment regulations”. Laws concerning protection against dismissal for pregnant women and maternity leave also.



(Ruhe-)Pausen are breaks, and they must be at least 15 minutes long. You are allocated a specific amount of break time depending on your age and work hours.


The Personalrat, or staff council, represents employees within public services. It has the same interest representation tasks as a works council.


Pflegeversicherung means care insurance, and it is the newest branch of the social security system. It provides its members with appropriate services and financial support if they need care services. Everyone paying into the insurance policy is a member.


A Praktikum is an internship and it can be a good career orientation opportunity for many young people. But watch out: internships are not as strictly regulated as normal employment and are often misused. Often, interns have to perform regular work tasks yet are badly paid or even not paid at all. What you need to know: internships are learning placements and, as of 01.01.2015, the government succumbed to union pressure and decreed that interns are also subject to the statutory minimum wage of €8.50 per hour, unless:

  • the internship is mandatory e.g. as part of a school or university programme,
  • the internship lasts less than three months in order to provide orientation for a training programme or university degree,
  • the internship lasts less than three months and the intern is a university student.

Furthermore, a written internship contract is required for any internship. This should outline all details about compensation, work times and the duration of the internship, and lay out all learning aims. Want to know what applies to your internship? Contact your local union branch.


Probezeit refers to the probation period that begins when your training starts. It must last at least one month, but no longer than four months. It can last up to six months for full-time training courses. Within this time, you or your employer can terminate the contract without providing a reason.



The term Qualität der Ausbildung means training quality, and it refers to anything that makes your training experience a time of a qualified, high-quality learning for you.



Rechtschutz means legal protection, and it refers to a union member’s right to legal advice and court representation in matters relating to labour and social law. Sometimes, a case at the Labour Court or Social Welfare Court can be your last chance to exercise your rights – such as if you are contesting a termination or written warning. Union members can benefit from professional representation in court due to their union’s legal protection services and – if necessary – take the case through several courts without financial risk.


The Renteneintrittsalter, or pension age, describes the age of entitlement to a full pension. In Germany, this is possible from the age of 67. In March 2007, a gradual increase of the pension age from 65 to 67 was introduced. This “pension at 67” makes it harder for young people to find job, as older people have to work for longer. Even today, most employees cannot work at 65. People wishing to retire earlier are often met with pension sanctions. The youth union criticises the “pension at 67” pension reduction law. This also means that today’s youth will only be able to receive a full pension from at least the age of 67.

Rentenversicherung means pension insurance, and it is a column of the social security system. Almost all employees must be covered by this pension. The assessment threshold for statutory pensions is 6,200.00 euros (in the west) or 5,400.00 euros (in the east) per month for 2016. The main purpose of pension insurance is to pay pension payments to insured people and surviving dependents, as well as payments for medical treatments e.g. treatment to improve and restore the ability to work. As the state pension probably will not increase proportionally in future, and therefore will not cover the cost of living, many employees also have a private pension or work pension to ensure their financial security in old age. In contrast to communally financed state pensions, private pensions depend on the person’s own income, making them more more dependent on the economy and capital markets.



A Schlichtungsausschuss or Schlichtungsstelle is a court or board of arbitration, which is set up by the chamber of trade or chamber of commerce and industry. They serve to settle disputes between employers (trainers) and trainees before the case has to go to court. If such a court or board exists, you must take part in a free settlement procedure before you can take the case to court. Cases are not made public. The court of arbitration is made up of representatives of the employee and employer, and tries to get both parties to agree. If this is not successful, they issue a verdict. This verdict is only binding if both parties (trainer and trainee) accept it within one week.


A Schulkonferenz is a school council made up of teachers, parents and pupils, and this proportion is generally regulated by state laws. The school council provides advice and makes decisions about school-related problems, and can be used by school representation to introduce their concerns.


Schwerbehindertenvertretung is a representative body for severely disabled people, and one is appointed in companies with at least five disabled employees. They represent these parties’ special needs in dealings with the employer, the works council and within the workforce.


Sexuelle Belästigung means sexual harassment, and it shouldn’t really exist. The topic may have been hushed up for years, but the problem exists as much today as it did a hundred years ago. A survey of several large companies in Germany showed that two out of three female employees has been sexually harassed by a colleague or superior in some way during their careers. Only in 1994 did lawmakers decide to at least try to protect harassed women by passing the “Act to Protect Employees from Sexual Harassment in the Workplace” (this employee protection law was then replaced by the General Equality Act (AGG)). In the case of sexual harassment, lawmakers allocate significant rights to the affected party and obligate the employer to take measures to protect their employees.

You must stand up against sexual harassment. Your union will help you. You can find quick initial support – anonymously – on www.doktor-azubi.de, the DGB-Jugend’s online advice platform.


Solidarität, or solidarity, is when people advocate for one another and support each other in the promotion of their interests, even if they themselves are not affected by the problem. Solitary is the most important basic principle of unions.


The Sozialversicherungssystem is the social security system, the most important part of social welfare. It includes health insurance, care insurance, pension insurance, unemployment insurance and accident insurance.


Streik means strike, and this is a union’s last legal tool to fight for improvements in working and living conditions in tariff disputes. As employees don’t have any means of production, they can only put pressure on their employers by withdrawing their workforce – and going on strike. Trainees also have the right to strike if needed. During a strike, unions offer support to their striking members. Many countries in Europe also permit political strike. This is not directed at the employer with regards to a tariff negotiation but rather as a means to pressure for political change. Political strike is not permitted in Germany.



Tarifautonomie, or tariff autonomy, is the right of parties to a tariff contract to enter into a tariff contract with one another and establish work conditions herein independently and without external influences, e.g. politics.


Tarifverträge are tariff contracts. These regulate wages, pay, work times and general working conditions for the employees of a company or branch. They are negotiated by employers and employer associations as well as the relevant unions. Tariff contracts are agreed for a set time, and must be newly negotiated when due to expire. If a union member’s own company agreed to the tariff contract, or is part of an association that agreed to the tariff contract, the member has a legal right to what is laid out in the tariff contract.



Übernahme means being taken on as an employee in your chosen career after you pass your final exam. Unfortunately, there is no basic right to being further employed after your training – however, some tariff contracts do include such stipulations. For example, the IG Metall union successfully fought for the basic right to permanent employment after training for their trainees in their last tariff negotiations.

You should inquire about being taken on early (at least three months before the end of your training), and get in touch with your works council or staff council. As interest representatives, JAV members have a claim to employment after their training.


Überstunden means overtime, and this term applies whenever you work more than the work time agreed in your contract. In tariff contracts, operational agreements or employment contracts, the term may be described or defined differently. Overtime, i.e. any exceeding of contractually agreed working hours, can only be requested by a trainer if this time will be compensated either by extra pay or free time.


Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung means statutory accident insurance, and it is another branch of the social security system. All employees and trainees are covered by this insurance. This insurance covers you during work activities as well as during travel to and from work. The company is responsible for contributions to this accident insurance. Insurance is provided by trade associations, who also finance accident prevention, accident pensions etc.


Urlaub means holiday, and this refers to work-free time without reduction of pay (holiday remuneration) to allow the employee to recover. Statutory minimum leave allowance is based on age for employees and trainees under the age of 18.

Employees and trainees under 16 generally have 30 working days of holiday, while those under 17 have 27 working days of holiday and those under 18 have at least 25 working days of holiday entitlement. All employees and trainees over the age of 18 are subject to the statutory minimum holiday entitlement of 24 working days. This equates to four weeks a year. Most industries are subject to tariff contracts with holiday entitlement over the legal minimum. In some companies, mostly due to tariff contracts, a holiday bonus is also paid out. This is usually paid out once a year in addition to holiday pay. To work out how much holiday and holiday pay you are entitled to, contact your union to ask if there is a tariff contract that ensures additional holiday and/or a holiday bonus.



Vergütung is remuneration, another word for pay. A trainee’s pay may also be called a training allowance, as trainees are part of the company in order to learn, not to work (see also: Ausbildungsvergütung).


Vertrauensleute are persons of trust, and they have a different role than the works council or staff council within a company. Persons of trust represent the interests of union members within departments. They know where the pressure points are due to their daily contact with staff.


Vollzeitschulische Ausbildung refers to a kind of full-time training taken completely – with the exceptions of internships – at a school.

Mostly, people taking part in these courses are called “students” rather than “trainees”. In contrast to dual training programmes, full-time training programmes do not offer any training allowance (just travel expenses, BAföG student finance etc). As the new Occupational Training Act also allows full-time training courses to be tested by trade chambers, it is also possible to complete training without a training contract.



A Warnstreik is a warning strike, a short work stoppage by dependent employees in order to build up pressure for tariff negotiations. In contrast to a strike, missing pay is not compensated by strike support, and a warning strike is often carried out during tariff negotiations to demonstrate that the unions could carry out a larger, longer strike if the employer does not move.



Zeugnis – see Arbeitszeugnis or Ausbildungszeugnis.


Zeugnissprache means reference code. This refers to the language used in references, which often looks positive but could contain a negative evaluation. Certain formulations can be equivalent to certain “grades”.