Sick leave in Germany

The German system of sick pay and sickness benefits is different from those in most English-speaking countries. However, it is actually pretty straightforward.

Who is eligible for sick pay?

Under German law, employees may be entitled to receive 100% of their salary from their employer as sick pay. However, there are a few important things you need to know.

  • An employee must inform their employer immediately if they are ill or otherwise unable to work.
  • Sick pay will be paid to an employee for the first 6 weeks of any sick leave in Germany.
  • In most cases, employees can only trigger this 6-week period once a year. Self-employed people obviously do not have an “employer” and are therefore treated differently. To receive sickness benefits, they need an additional health insurance policy.

What happens if I’m still ill after 6 weeks?

After the initial period of 6 weeks, your own health insurance must take over providing sick pay. Once again, there are a few things that are useful to know under those circumstances.

  • Your doctor must confirm that you are incapable of working by issuing a sick note – snappily called an Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung!
  • If you can still perform some duties, your doctor will record this, and it will probably affect the amount your insurance pays out. The level of sick pay you receive from insurers also depends on your chosen policy – public and private options are available.

German sick leave culture is pretty unique!

This might sound strange to people who have worked elsewhere, but employers in Germany usually don’t begrudge paying sickness benefits – in fact, many encourage staff to take time off to recover! The purpose of the sick pay is to let you focus on getting better without watching the bills pile up. Although this pragmatic attitude does mean that Germans take more sick leave than workers in other countries, most German employers would rather have you back fighting fit than struggling through your duties.


Does the premium increase when I´m getting older or sick?

After your policy is finalized it will not be adjusted again based on the variables of aging, increases in health care needs or increases in salary.

Am I eligible for the Expat Tariff/ PKV tariff? Am I an expat in your definition?

If you are eligible for private health insurance and you are in Germany on a visa or a limited permit, we can offer you the Expat Tariff up to five years.

Is my family included?

In private health insurance we do not offer a family tariff. However, you can insure family members with you as your dependents.

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