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What to watch out for when getting a student job

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Students will always have the need for money and therefore the need for student job. Find out wht are the rules for student jobs in Germany

You can take on a mini job on a 450-euro basis or get a job as a working student if you have to earn more. An advantage for students and employers: For both types of employment there are only reduced social security contributions. But regardless of whether you are a mini-jobber, working student or part-time employee: In the case of dependent employment, as a student you have the same employee rights as your full-time colleagues.

What do students have to consider in a mini job?

If you are looking for a student assistant, you will usually employ this as a mini jobber. Both sides agree on a monthly salary of a maximum of 450 euros or a corresponding hourly wage. Then the employer registers his student employee at the mini-job center.

In the case of a mini-job, the employee does not have to pay any contributions to health, long-term care or unemployment insurance. On application, the mini jobber can also be exempted from the compulsory pension insurance.

Employment in a mini job is always possible if the monthly income does not exceed 450 euros. However, this limit is not set in stone: If you stay below the 450 euros on average, you can earn more for three months per year if this is necessary for the operation for unforeseeable reasons. This is the case, for example, if a full-time employee suddenly fails and you step in as a mini-jobber. The decisive factor is then the annual upper earnings limit of 5,400 euros.

The marginal employment has another big advantage for students: Those who work on a EUR 450 basis can continue to benefit from the free family insurance of the statutory health insurance without any problems. Because even for this, the legislature has set a limit for additional earnings of 450 euros. Job-seeking students under the age of 25 do not have to worry about their health insurance coverage.

Problems can arise if you as a mini-jobber earn more than 450 euros per month. Because be careful: Christmas and vacation pay increase average earnings. Then the employer is obliged to register his employees with the regular social security. He must also pay the contributions retrospectively for the current year.

Even if several mini-jobs result in higher earnings in total, the social security obligation comes into force. As a mini-jobber, you must therefore not withhold other activities from your employer.


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What do working students have to consider?

If you regularly earn more than 450 euros a month as a student, you should be employed as a working student. The working model is attractive for both sides: On the one hand, both the employer and you pay contributions into the pension fund, which has a positive effect on your future retirement. On the other hand, the employer saves on social security contributions because there are no contributions to unemployment insurance as well as to health and long-term care insurance.

If the earnings remain below 553.33 euros per month, working students under the age of 25 can remain family insured free of charge, provided that no further income is available. This is because the income limit for family insurance of 470 euros for working students increases by the flat-rate income allowance from 83.33 euros per month (1,000 euros per year) to a total of 553.33 euros. If university students earn more, they have to pay their own contributions – usually the reduced student tariff in statutory health and long-term care insurance.

There is also a special feature under social security law, the so-called working student rule: During the semester, a working student may work a maximum of 20 hours a week while studying. This upper limit does not apply during the semester break. Then a working student can earn more. Exceptions are also possible if the work takes place at night or on the weekend and does not hinder the study.

Unlike mini-jobbers, however, working students have to pay income tax if their income is above the tax exemptions. The employer pays taxes according to the existing electronic wage tax deduction features (wage tax card). If he has withheld income tax, the student can get it back in the following year with a tax return.

What other working models are there for students?

In addition to a mini job and a contract as a working student, you can also earn money as a student with other models. It is important in any case: Regardless of the form of employment, require a written employment contract – then all working conditions and also the salary are clearly defined.

Short-term employment during the semester break

This form of employment is suitable for students who only work during the semester break. Short-term employment is when you work for an employer for no more than 70 days over the year or when the job is limited to three months.

Due to the corona pandemic, different time limits apply from March 1 to October 31, 2020: 115 working days or five months. The legislature has again extended the time limits from March 1, 2021 to October 31, 2021 to four months or 102 working days.

The income is free of social security. The employer does not pay any contributions either. In addition, there are no wage caps and no limit to the number of hours worked per week. But these jobs are also taxable: the employer pays either the normal wage tax or a flat rate of 25 percent to the tax office.

Midi-jobs

Midi-jobs with an income of 451 to 1,300 euros (since July 2019) form an intermediate stage between regular and marginal employment. In this area, the social security contributions increase linearly to the full employee share of around 20 percent.

This transitional regulation also applies if you do not earn more than 1,300 euros a month with several jobs. The employer, on the other hand, pays the full contribution. Free family insurance is not possible.

Work independently on a fee basis

Another way to earn income is to work independently on a fee basis alongside your studies. You write an invoice for your work, receive the gross salary and take care of the taxation of your income yourself. To do this, you have to apply for a tax number at the tax office. If the annual profit is above the basic tax allowance of 9,744 euros (2022: 9,984 euros), income tax is due. You have to submit an income tax return electronically, including the attachment EÜR (stands for income surplus calculation).

As a rule, you do not have to calculate sales tax, as you probably earn less than 22,000 euros a year. Then you are a small business owner. Your invoices may then not show any sales tax.

Since the beginning of 2020, there has been an increased small business limit: Accordingly, the turnover of the previous year may not exceed 22,000 euros (previously: 17,500 euros) and in the current year a maximum of 50,000 euros. However, you can voluntarily opt for sales tax.

Self-employment has advantages: the work can be done flexibly, and there is no obligation to take on follow-up assignments. But there are also disadvantages: there are no employee rights such as continued payment of wages in the event of illness, vacation or notice periods.

What are the earnings limits for Bafög recipients?

If you receive Bafög benefits during your studies, you have to consider other income limits. For example, Bafög recipients are only allowed to earn 5,400 euros gross during the twelve-month approval period, that is 450 euros per month. If you are self-employed, you can earn a profit of no more than 4,410 euros. If you earn more, you run the risk of your funding being cut or canceled entirely.

If the approval period is shorter than twelve months, the permissible income is calculated on a pro-rata basis. Students who already have children can earn more and can look forward to higher allowances.

In contrast to the Bafög benefits, the child benefit that parents receive for their student offspring is not jeopardized by income from student jobs. There have been no restrictions in this regard since 2012. With one exception: Anyone who has already completed vocational training or a course of study does not endanger receiving child benefit if the job is marginal (mini-job) or the weekly working time does not exceed 20 hours (student worker rule).

Minimum wage or a comparable wage customary in the industry must be paid.

In a mini job, the minimum wage limits the average working time per month to around 46 hours, otherwise the earnings limit of 450 euros is exceeded. A working time account can help in these cases: the monthly earnings remain the same, even if the mini-jobber works a few hours more or less.

Is it worth filing a tax return for students?

If you work in a mini job, you can earn up to 450 euros per month tax-free on your salary. The employer pays a flat rate of 2 percent on the wages and everything is done for tax purposes. You cannot then deduct any advertising costs.

Attention: The employer does not necessarily have to pay the flat-rate wage tax. He can pass it on to the employee. However, this is not allowed for the lump-sum social security contributions.

The situation is different if you have earned more – in a form of employment such as mid-job or short-term employment. Most of the time, the employer has withheld income tax, possibly including the solidarity surcharge and church tax. If you earned a lot in the vacation months, then you had high tax deductions in those months. With a tax return in the following year, you can possibly get the taxes back completely.

Because the basic tax-free allowance of 9,744 euros and 1,000 euros employee lump sum, i.e., a total of 10,744 euros as annual income, will remain tax-free. If the income is lower, the tax office will reimburse the wage tax in full.

And even with higher income, you can get a considerable portion back. This is especially true if you had professional expenses of more than 1,000 euros for your student job. If you had higher expenses due to the trips to work and other income-related expenses, you can claim these instead of the lump-sum income-related expenses.

If you have already completed your first training as a student, for example because you did an apprenticeship, you can also deduct your training costs – as income-related expenses in Appendix N. This also applies to a second degree.

Example: You already have a bachelor’s degree and are now continuing your studies in the master’s degree.

Are students entitled to a minimum wage?

Like other employees, students are entitled to the statutory minimum wage (from July 1, 2021: 9.60 euros per hour, increasing every six months). It doesn’t matter whether you work as a mini jobber, student trainee or in a holiday job. It is crucial that it is dependent employment. Anyone who receives a fee for self-employment is not entitled to a minimum wage.

Exceptions also apply to students who have not yet reached the age of 18. Even if the job is part of the training, for example the practical part of a dual study course or a compulsory internship stipulated by the study regulations, no minimum wage has to be paid.

Compulsory internships are also generally exempt from social security, even if there is remuneration for them. Voluntary internships during your studies do not have to be remunerated if they serve career orientation. If, on the other hand, the intern has already completed a degree or vocational training, the

The situation is different in initial training, for example when studying immediately after graduating from high school. Then you can only deduct your training costs as special expenses, limited to 6,000 euros per year.

There can be additional deduction items in the tax return: The contributions for health, nursing care, pension and unemployment insurance are pension expenses; you can deduct these as special editions. Medical expenses are one of the extraordinary burdens. Certain expenses in the rental ancillary cost settlement can also lower taxes as household-related services and tradesmen’s services.

As a student, you should definitely file a tax return. This is easier with a control program. In the tax software guide, we give an overview and recommend suitable programs. Some providers even make free versions available to students: Wolters Kluwer with the tax saving declaration for students or, under certain conditions, Lots of Lexware with smart tax.

Attention: Normally, the employer calculates the monthly wage tax according to your individual tax characteristics (electronic wage tax deduction characteristics) and the tax rate.

In the case of short-term employment, however, he has the option of withholding 25 percent of the gross wage as a flat-rate wage tax. That would be disadvantageous for you, because you don’t get this flat tax back through a tax return. Therefore, insist on individual taxation (on tax card) and get back the overpaid taxes with a tax return the following year.

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Michelle Halterman
USA, China, South Africa and now Munich - Michelle has come a long way in the world. She is an outdoor person and loves to be in nature with friends and on her mountain bike. Or she meets up with friends for pasta, vino, cappaccino & Co.
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