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Quality of employment

Dimension 2: Income and indirect benefits from employment

Information on Dimension 2

Income and indirect benefits from employment

Most people finance their livelihood on income from employment, either directly through their own work or indirectly through the employment of family members. For this reason, the level and stability of the salary play a central role for the quality of work.

If the earnings are low compared to the average level, the standard of living and social inclusion of persons in employment and their households are limited accordingly. If the salary is also paid when the employee is absent due to sickness, it protects a lasting income. Paid leave offers the possibility to regenerate from occupational stress without financial restrictions.
Employers’ contributions to company pension schemes could be an important component of securing the standard of living after retirement.

Low-wage rate

The low-wage rate shows the proportion of employees who earn less than two thirds of the median earnings of all employees.

The decisive criterion for earnings to be classified as low wages is their difference from the general wage level. This refers to gross hourly earnings and includes all jobs in paid employment in Sections A to S of WZ 2008 (German Classification of Economic Activities) for which wages were paid in April 2014. Apprentices are not included.

Low wages start at 10.00 euros

In 2014, the low-wage threshold was gross earnings of 10.00 euros per hour. Lower hourly earnings were classified as low wages.

Low wage for one in five employees

In 2014, 21.4% of the employees got low wages. Hence, one in five employees earned less than 10.00 euros per hour in gross terms. As 34.5% of the people in paid employment in the new Länder received low wages, low wages were much more widespread there than in the former territory of the Federal Republic, where the percentage was just 19.3%.

Female, young, working as hairdressers or cleaning ladies

Share of persons in employment with low wagesEnlarge picture

Low wages were distributed very unevenly across groups in society and economic branches. In 2014, 27.2% of the women got low wages, compared with 15.8% of the men. The main reasons are that women frequently work in low-paid occupations and branches and much more often have part-time jobs or are in marginal employment.

Age plays a role, too. An above-average number of young employees received low wages. 45.9% of all people in paid employment who were aged 15 to 24 years got low pay.

In 2014, the proportion of low-wage earners was particularly high among taxi drivers (83.7%), in retail sale via stalls and markets (83.7%) and in video rental shops (80.5%). Other branches with especially large proportions of low-wage earners were beverage serving activities (79.9%), hairdressers (78.5%) and restaurants, cafés and pubs (77.0%).

Share of persons in employment with low wage by education, 2014
in %
Kind of education%
Source: Structure of earnings survey 2014.
No vocational qualification attained46.4
Recognised vocational qualification21.5
Master craftsman's/technician's/trade and technical school certificate11.9
Bachelor's degree11.3
Diplom/Magister degree/Master's/state examination3.5
Doctor's degree/post-doctoral lecturing qualification4.7

Qualification is protection aganist low wages

Only approximately 3.5% of the employees with a Diplom degree or Master's degree (higher education) received low wages in 2014. The proportion was 21.5% among employees with a completed apprenticeship or a full-time vocational school certificate. At 46.4%, it was significantly higher for employees without vocational qualification.

Information on the Indicator

Description or definition
Low-wage jobs as a proportion of all jobs in paid employment. Low wages are defined as earnings of less than two thirds of the median earnings across all jobs in paid employment. The median divides the earnings distribution into two halves, which means that one half of the employees earn less and the other half earn more than the median value. Gross hourly earnings are used as the basis for calculation.

In 2014, the low-wage threshold in Germany was gross earnings of exactly 10.00 euros per hour.

Structure of earnings survey 2014

Information for interpretation
The jobs evaluated comprise not only main jobs but also second and additional jobs in paid employment. Also included are jobs of people who are not employed or self-employed in a main job but do have a paid job, such as pupils or pensioners doing mini-jobs.

Number of leave days actually taken

The indicator shows how many holiday days every employee has taken on an average in one calendar year. Leave includes both the number of holiday days, as well as additional free days approved by the employer and maternity leave.
The number of days actually taken is not the same as holiday entitlement.

Number of leave days actually taken

Number of vacation days actually taken per employee per year         Enlarge picture

In 2017 employees actually take 31,4 free days. The number of leave days taken has nearly been constant since 1991. However, the number of holiday days varies according to branch considerably.

Information on the Indicator

Description of definition
Average number of leave days, actually taken per calendar year and employee.

IAB (Institute for Employment and Research) – Labour Volume Accounting

Information for interpretation
The values refer to leave days available to employees on average.
For more information please refer to:
Institute for Employment and Research (IAB), Gender end age specific measurement of hours worked (only in german).
Institute for Employment and Research (IAB-Kompendium), Volumes of hours worked (only in german).

Vacation entitlement

The indicator shows the average number of days of vacation entitlement per employee in a calendar year.
The vacation entitlement is not the same as the number of vacation days actually taken.

Vacation entitlement

According to the Federal Holidays Act, all employees in Germany with a 5-day week are entitled to a minimum of 20 vacation days per year. Most collective agreements, however, include entitlements to larger numbers of days.

Figures from 2014 confirm that there are differences of up to six days between economic branches.

In most economic branches, full-time workers were entitled to at least 28 vacation days in 2014. Top of the list were mining, energy and water supply as well as financial and insurance activities with 30 days. In agriculture and forestry (24 days) and accommodation and food service activities (25 days) the vacation entitlement was markedly smaller. However, special vacation granted in those branches, which are characterised by seasonal effects, is not covered.

Information on the Indicator

Description or definition
Arithmetic mean of the number of annual vacation days (based on a 5 day week).

Structure of Earnings Survey 2014

Information for interpretation
It is recommended to examine results separately by full-time and part-time employees as the part-time rate affects the average number of vacation days.

Basis for the calculation are employees in all economic branches (NACE groups) with exception of agriculture, fishery, public administration, private households and extra-territorial organizations in enterprises with at least 10 employees.

Staff on sick leave

This figure indicates the extent of sickness notifications of employees. In Germany, employees reporting sick are entitled to receive continued full pay from their employer. That entitlement generally is limited to six weeks per year. Afterwards, the health insurance institutions pay sickness benefit.When calculating the indicator, only those notifications of sickness are included which extend beyond a three-day waiting period.

Employees reported sick for 10,8 days in 2016

Number of days in sick leave per employee per year (in working days)Enlarge picture

In 2016, employees in Germany reported sick for an average 10.8 working days. In previous year this figure was still 10.0 working days. Since 2008 is observed a moderate increase in days of sick leave.

Smallest number of days of sick leave in 2007

In 2007, the smallest number of days of absence were recorded since 1991, when the average had been 12.8 days of sick leave. The figure was down to 8.1 in 2007, which is a 37% decrease. Possible reasons for that trend might be an improved health situation or the decrease of work involving health risks (e.g. in industry). Also, the fear of losing their job may cause employees to report sick less often. Especially in periods of weak economic activity, the number of sickness notifications decreases, as is shown by the development since 1991.

Staff on sick leave per employee per year
of employees
reporting sick
in %
Staff on sick
leave in
number of
working days
in days
Source: Labour Volume Accounting (IAB).
1992 5.112.8
1994 5.012.5
19955.2 13.0
19964.8 12.0
20024.1 10.2
20033.7 9.2
20053.6 9.2
20073.3 8.1

Proportion of people reporting sick rises slightly again

The proportion of employees reporting sick is a piece of information complementing the data on the average length of sick leave periods. The average share has developed parallel to the average number of days of sick leave since 1991. At the time, 5.2% of the employees had reported sick. In 2007, the share of sickness notifications reached its low (3.3%). In 2016, an average of 4.3% of the employees reported sick.

Information on the Indicator

Description or definition
Staff on sick leave per employee per year (in days)

The indicator “staff on sick leave in days” is the average number of days of absence due to sick leave per employee per year.

Labour Volume Accounting (IAB).

Information for interpretation
Staff on sick leave refers to the average number of days of absence because of inability to work per employee. As the basis for the calculations are based on reports of sickness certificates, it is necessary to know that such a sickness certificate that attests the inability to work are usually submitted only after three days of absence.

For more information please refer to:
Institute for Employment and Research (IAB), Gender and age specific measurement of hours worked.
Institute for Employment and Research (IAB-Kompendium), Volumes of hours worked (only german).

Health insurance coverage

In Germany, the health insurance belongs to the social security system. In general all persons are required to insure themselves on a statutory or private basis. The contributions (for employees) are made jointly by employers and employees. In statutory health insurance, persons in employment (below certain income thresholds), recipients of revenues as income replacement (for example, unemployment benefit, pension or sickness benefit), students, pensioners and pension claimants as well as certain family members are insured.

For employees above certain income thresholds, self-employed, artists and other exceptions, there is the possibility to insure voluntarily in a statutory or private health insurance. Public officials or self-employed persons are usually insured with a private health insurance company.

87% of the  employed persons are insured  statutorily

Type of health insurence of persons in employmentEnlarge picture

In 2015, 95% of the employees and 56% of the self-employed were insured  statutorily. Almost all employees are  compulsorily insured, only a low part (5%) is a voluntary member of a statutory health insurance. 5% of the employees and 43% of the self-employed are secured in a private health insurance.

Men more often insured voluntarily than women

Men are insured to a higher portion than women privately. This is probably mainly due to the fact that men exceed the income threshold more often than women and thus may choose whether they insure voluntarily in a statutory or a private health insurance.

Less than 1% of employed persons are not insured

It is astonishing that, in spite of the obligation, not all employed persons are insured. Although it is a small proportion, it is remarkable that especially young people are not insured. Among men aged 15-24 years, the share of people without health insurance is 0.7%.

Information on the Indicator

Description or definition
Percentage of employees with additional private health insurance in all persons in employment.


Information for interpretation
Because the questions on health insurances have changed (partly significantly) during the elevation years, the comparability is limited. With temporal comparisons this should be considered.

In the last few years, the methodology of the microcensus has been continuously improved in terms of employment status coverage. Therefore comparisons over time are partly limited. Methodological changes affecting the results were performed especially in 2005 and, more currently, for the years from 2011. Consequently, the results for those years can be compared with the results for previous years to a limited extent only.

In the context of the current change, extrapolation has been based on the key population figures rolled forward from the 2011 Census conducted with reference day 9th May 2011, and the results for the period 2011-2013 have been revised.

For more information please refer to the quality reports and information on methods: Quality reports and Methods (only in German).

Average hourly wage of persons employed

The average gross hourly earnings show the income situation of employment relationships of different age groups, economic sectors and types of employment.

It contains no information about wage spreads within the mentioned groups. For example, individual gross hourly earnings may deviate significantly from the calculated average earnings within an industrial sector. The results presented take into account employment relationships that were not in part of education (i.e. vocational training, etc.).

Employees earn 17.44 euros per hour

Employees in Germany earned an average of € 17.44 per hour in April 2014. The wage level of € 14.08 in the Former territory of the Federal Republic was € 3.88 less and well below the average earnings in the old Länder (€ 17.96).

Marginally employed and temporary workers earned the least

Average gross hourly earnings of employeesEnlarge picture

Most employees with low earnings in 2014 were atypically employed. Atypical employment includes four forms of employment: part-time employment with up to 20 working hours per week, fixed-term employment, temporary work and so called marginal employment.

Atypical employees earned an average of € 13.02 gross per hour. For employees in standard employment, gross hourly earnings were much higher at € 19.99. A standard employment relationship is permanent, with more than 20 working hours a week, which is not exercised as a marginal job and not as a temporary work. Decisive for these differences in gross hourly earnings are qualification requirements, additionally to the forms of employment. In marginal employment, these requirements are usually relatively low. With an average of € 9.39 this group therefore had the lowest gross hourly earnings of a atypical employees, followed by temporary workers with € 11.96. Fixed-term workers had the highest gross hourly earnings of atypical employees at € 13.53 euros. Part-time employees with up to 20 working hours per week earned an average of € 12.46.

Average hourly wage of persons in employment, 2014
in Euros
in standard
Of whom
fixed term
Source: Structure of earnings survey, 2014.
Gross hourly earnings
Former territory of the
Federal Republic
including Berlin
New Länder14.0815.1711.4510.8411.967.8410.65

Information on the Indicator

Description or definition
Arithmetic mean of gross hourly earnings of persons in employment.

Structure of earnings survey 2014.

Information for interpretation
The calculation is based on employment relationships in all economic sectors (NACE – groups) in companies with at least one person employed paying social security contributions.

Only employment relationships were taken into account that were not part of education (i.e. vocational training, etc.).

© Statistisches Bundesamt (Destatis), 2019

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