Unemployment insurance

Living in Europe, Working in Europe | Entry conditions/visas, Unemployment | Germany

Unemployment insurance ("Arbeitslosenversicherung") contributions are part of the statutory social security payments. The persons with a duty to contribute to unemployment insurance are detailed in §§ 24 et seq. SGB III.

Persons with a duty to contribute to unemployment insurance are those earning an income or undertaking training in their profession (employment subject to compulsory insurance).
§ 26 SGB III.

Unemployment insurance ("Arbeitslosenversicherung") is deducted from salaries at source. The employee does not have to worry about them. As a rule, the employer is responsible for paying half of the contribution towards unemployment insurance, the employee the other half. The employer registers his employee with the respective health insurance provider who then automatically forwards the registration to all the other social security providers.

Pursuant to § 341 SGB III, the contribution rate totals 2.5% of the gross income subject to contributions, whereby so-called annual income thresholds of 82.800 euros in the west and 77.400 euros in the east of Germany apply as of January 1, 2020. Income exceeding these thresholds no longer has an impact on the contribution payable.

Within the unemployment insurance scheme, the local employment agency ("Agentur für Arbeit") actively promotes employment (mediation, further training) and provides income support ("Arbeitslosengeld").

Those meeting the entitlement criteria (i.e. who were employed in Germany immediately before becoming unemployed and paid social security contributions in Germany for a minimum of 12 months in the past 2 years) and available for work are entitled to claim German unemployment benefits.

Past periods of employment in Member States of the EU / EEA States and Switzerland can be taken into account. For this purpose you will need the form PD U1 / E301 stating the periods in which you have worked as an insured employee. This form can be obtained from the National Insurannce of the concerned states. The official blank forms provided by the German employment agency can be found under "Further Information".

Fellowships are usually exempt from compulsory social security payments.

To what extent benefits accrued in Germany will be recognized by unemployment insurance companies in other countries must be ascertained in the respective country. If you are returning to a country which does not have a Social Security Agreement ("Sozialversicherungsabkommen") with Germany it will not be possible to receive German unemployment benefit there.

While drawing unemployment benefit ("Arbeitslosengeld"), recipients' contributions towards health insurance and long-term care insurance are paid by the Employment Agency ("Agentur für Arbeit"). Statutory pension scheme contributions will also be paid. The unemployment insurance provider is the German Federal Employment Agency ("Bundesagentur für Arbeit"), represented by its Local Employment Agencies.


Further information