british employees

Brexit: No Deal – Deep Impact on British Employment in Germany

By Anette Sophie Klapproth, FACT GmbH

While the search for the Brexit compromise is running at full speed, the question is raised as to the possible consequences under labour law for British employees in Germany.

From the labour-law point of view, this will make it considerably more diffcult for British nationals to work in Germany. If there is no regulated Brexit, British citizens will be treated as “third-country nationals.” Unlike EU foreigners, they will then no longer have unrestricted access to the labour market and will require a residence permit and a work permit, which will only be issued under certain conditions.

Employers are already advised to ensure that their employees with British citizenship obtain a residence permit and work permit in order not to endanger their continued employment in Germany.

If the withdrawal agreement had been concluded, all Britons currently employed in Germany would have had the unconditional right to continue living and working in Germany beyond the withdrawal date. This will not be the case after the rejection of the withdrawal agreement, especially as there is currently no draft law from the Federal Government that provides for this right.

Even though the German government has announced that it will not put any obstacles in the way of British citizens remaining in Germany, British citizens will nevertheless initially be presumed to be treated as third-country nationals. It can therefore be assumed that they will need a work permit just like non-EU citizens in order to stay and work in Germany. However, the access of foreigners (i.e. non-EU citizens) to the labour market is restricted by law. Access is generally restricted to certain occupational groups and usually requires the prior consent of the Employment Agency, even though various legislative measures have liberalised access to the German labour market in recent years.

Access to the labour market will be limited for unskilled and low-skilled Britons. For highly qualified Britons such as university graduates, on the other hand, the legal barriers to work in Germany are low. Simplified rules for access to the labour market apply to academics, highly qualified people, managers, executives, specialists and similar groups. It should also be noted that, apart from the special regulations under the so-called ICT card, a national residence permit only entitles the holder to work in the country in which it is issued, while employment in other EU states is generally excluded or requires further national residence permits.

What possibilities would employed Britons have to obtain a residence permit and a work permit?

There will be various possibilities for British employees working in Germany to obtain a residence permit and a work permit. For highly qualified and senior British employees, the application for a so-called Blue Card or an ICT card is particularly recommended.

In addition, the possibility should not be overlooked that Britons who have been living and working in Germany for many years can obtain a permanent residence permit or even naturalisation under certain conditions. Employers are advised to take immediate action to evaluate the situation for their UK employees.

It should also be noted that, apart from certain exceptions within the framework of the ICT card, a national residence permit only entitles the holder to gainful employment in the issuing country; gainful employment in other EU states is generally excluded or requires further national residence permits.


Anette Sophie Klapproth

Anette Sophie Klapproth

FACT GmbH, Steuerberatungsgesellschaft, Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft, Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft, Kassel, Germany
T: +49 561 316 686 0
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Published: GGI Insider, No. 101, May 2019 l Photo: Elnur - stock.adobe.com

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