Which places would employ 15-year-olds

Underage trainees: what should be considered?

In the “Practical Guide!” Section, we give practical tips every week and report on laws and rules that affect your life and work as an apprentice. It has already become clear in many contributions that it makes a difference whether you are younger than 18 as an apprentice or already an adult. At this point we summarize again: What special rules apply to underage trainees?

With a few exceptions, underage trainees are young people, not children. This is because training in Germany can only begin if you are no longer subject to compulsory full-time schooling, i.e. if you have attended a general school for at least nine years - in some federal states even ten years. After that, you are usually at least 14 years old and are therefore considered a young person. In German law, a person is usually referred to as a young person who is at least 14 but not yet 18 years old. Only the Youth Employment Protection Act makes an exception here: There you are only considered to be a young person from the age of 15! But most people have at least reached this age after completing compulsory full-time schooling. Starting an apprenticeship as a child should therefore be the absolute exception.

Restrictions on career choice
"All Germans have the right to freely choose their profession, workplace and training facility", it says in Article 12 of the Basic Law. That sounds nice, but it only works to a limited extent in practice. In fact, of course, not everyone can always do exactly the training that they have in mind. It always depends on whether there are enough vacancies and whether you are one of the lucky ones selected by the most popular training companies.

For people who are younger than 18 there is an additional restriction that they can only start training with the consent of their parents. In the case of minors, the training contract between the apprentice and the training company must always be signed by their legal representatives. Otherwise it is not valid at all because young people have only limited legal capacity according to the German Civil Code (BGB). On the basis of the same reasoning, a young person can only terminate his training contract with the consent of the parents!

Another restriction on the choice of career for young people can be found in the Vocational Training Act (BBiG). There it says in §4, paragraph 3: "Young people under the age of 18 may not be trained in other than recognized training occupations". There are currently around 340 recognized apprenticeships in Germany. You can find the full list here. These professions are clearly regulated by training regulations and are monitored by the state. The typical training occupations in the building materials trade - merchant in wholesale and foreign trade, specialist warehouse clerk, specialist in warehouse logistics - all belong to the state-recognized training occupations. But there are also unrecognized training occupations, and you can only start training in those when you are of legal age. This includes, for example, professions such as midwives, naturopaths or pilots.

Working time regulations
Although the legislature has formulated some restrictions for young people in the world of work, it is mostly about protecting young people from excessive stress. This applies in particular to the Youth Labor Protection Act. There it is regulated, for example, that young people may be employed a maximum of 40 hours per week (adults: 48 hours). In addition, they are normally only allowed to be used eight hours a day and on five days of the week (adults: six) - and only between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

As I said: These provisions are intended to protect young people, but they also restrict them in a certain way. This means that minors have fewer opportunities to do a part-time job to improve their income in addition to their education. This is because the working time limit does not apply “per job”, but rather, taken together, for all jobs that a young person does.

The Youth Employment Protection Act protects underage trainees from excessive stress from their training company, even on vocational school days. In §9 it says, among other things, that young people are not allowed to work in the company on the same day before the vocational school if the lessons start before 9 a.m. And also the afternoon employment following the vocational school, the paragraph sets narrower limits than is usual for adults. You can find out more about this in the article “Do I have to work in the company on vocational school days?”.

Not only are employers allowed to employ young people less than adults, they also have to give them more vacation time. Anyone who is 17 years old has the right to 25 working days of vacation per year. For 16-year-olds, the entitlement is already 27 working days, and for 15-year-olds it is at least 30 working days. This is what the Youth Labor Protection Act says. Adult employees, on the other hand, are only entitled to 24 working days of vacation per year under the Federal Vacation Act.

Vocational training allowance
Minors are usually not allowed to move out of their homes without their parents' consent. Not even if they have already finished school and are starting on-the-job training. Conversely, this means that young trainees in most cases cannot receive any vocational training allowance (BAB). In addition to the need to be checked, a claim to BAB presupposes that the recipient no longer lives with his or her parents.

Provided that there is financial need at all, minors only receive BAB if they can no longer live with their parents because the training company is too far away, if they are already married and / or have a child or if they live in the Parental home is no longer reasonable for serious social reasons.


Please note:The content of this article does not constitute legal advice and cannot replace legal advice in individual cases! It is our aim to always provide legally correct articles. However, laws and statutory regulations change frequently. We can therefore not guarantee the current or future accuracy. If in doubt, please contact a legally sound person (e.g. lawyers, trade unions, IHK, etc.) with confidence.

About the author Roland Grimm has been a freelance journalist based in Essen since February 2013 and regularly writes specialist articles for Building material knowledge. Before that, he was a specialist editor at the industry magazine for around six years Building materials market and also editor-in-chief and, from 2010, editor-in-chief of the trade journal building materials practice. Contact: freelance [email protected]

You might also be interested in these articles: