Temporary Work in Germany: A Testimony from Anne, 24 years old

“I Have No Direct Contract and My Life is Insecure!”


After finishing high school, I studied Business Administration and finished with a Bachelor’s degree. I searched for a job for about half a year and every time my applications were rejected, the reason was: "You have no working experience" or "We are primarily looking for people with more work experience" ... Even in positions that were advertised for new entrants they kept saying, " We have found someone with more experience ".

Long story short, I got a job from a temporary work agency. I am working in the purchasing department of a big company which isn’t far away from home. But this job doesn’t require academic studies. My salary corresponds approximately to that of the people directly hired by the company for the same position, but those people are working together with a Buyer while I am working alone.

In the company I feel warmly welcomed – most colleagues do not even know that I am employed through a temporary work agency. I get the same discounts as the employees hired directly by the company – for example a discount in the canteen. I really like the work and the colleagues.

But I notice that I am employed by a temporary work agency anyway - especially with regard to vacation and payment. The “direct employees” have 30 days’ vacation in one year and they also do not have to work on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. I, however, have 24 days per year (legal minimum limit) and I have to take a full day of vacation on those two days (because the company doesn’t work on those days). Also taking a vacation is much more complicated for me than for direct employees, because I first need the permission of my boss and then I have to go to the temp agency where they sign my request.

At New Year, the “direct employees” got a pay rise. I just got a kind of allowance, not a pay rise.

According to the contract I have a 35-hour week. In the company normal weekly work is 39 hours - plus overtime. I'm constantly working overtime but I get paid for 35 hours, overtime is credited to a time account. I only get the money when I have collected 150 hours’ overtime on that account.

At the beginning I had a temporary contract for approximately 9 months. When I asked my boss 3 months before the end if it would continue, he was totally surprised - he thought I had an annual contract. My contract was then extended by the temporary work agency for another 9 months. Recently, I again asked my boss if the company could now hire me directly, otherwise I would look for another job. They offered me a direct contract beginning 1st June. Because of this, I cancelled my contract with the temporary work agency. But until now (18th May) I haven’t seen a contract from the company. If they give me the contract (I feel confident), it will be limited again. And I probably won’t be employed as a Buyer - although I have the qualifications for this position.

Also interesting: My boss asked me to tell him how much I earn. Because the company knows what they pay to the temporary work agency, but not what the agency pays me. When I told him about my hourly wage and my 35-hour week, he was surprised. He knew nothing of these facts!

I will still continue applying for interesting jobs in my region, I am writing applications, It’s hard for me, I can’t plan my future. And if I get another job, I won’t be able to take a vacation as I planned at the beginning of the year. My work as a temporary worker makes my life insecure.

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