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I am an international (non-EU) graduating from a US university. I am considering a postdoc in Germany. As I have a family, I'd need to make some additional money. Is working outside of the university while a postdoc in Germany legal/welcomed?

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    In Germany you receive additional ~200 € per month per each child.
    – EarlGrey
    Nov 21, 2023 at 16:59
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    If you have a full (100%) postdoc position, you should in principle be able to support a family, depending of course on your family size and where you live (Munich is horrendously expensive). Note that your partner (if they don't work) and your children are covered in your German health insurance free of charge, and that there is Kindergeld, as Jochen writes. Nov 21, 2023 at 19:06
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    Also things like childcare are heavily subsidised. Healthcare is organised differently. Nov 21, 2023 at 19:19
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    Many universities by now have (heavily subsidized, as @MaartenBuis notes) childcare, i.e., creches and kindergartens. If this might possibly be interesting for you, you could find out about it in your application process. (There are often waiting lists, though.) Nov 21, 2023 at 19:52
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    Postdocs in Germany are usually pretty well paid. Why do you expect to need a second job? Nov 22, 2023 at 10:44

3 Answers 3

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You are not allowed to work more than 48h per week and not more than 10h/day in Germany. With most full positions being around 40h/week, that leaves you about 8h/week for a side job. You have to disclose this to your primary employer (the uni or institute where you do your postdoc at). In general they shouldn't have any objections. I have a full time contract at a uni and work some hours on the side, and it it is not a problem as long as you stay within the limits of the law concerning working hours. You have to keep in mind, though that the second job will most likely be taxed more.

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    "You have to keep in mind, though that the second job will most likely be taxed more." Eventually not, both salaries are added up in the tax declaration for each year, and are not treated differently than the same salary that comes from a single job. Nov 21, 2023 at 19:10
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    Also, there may be Visa implications, I do not know .... Nov 21, 2023 at 19:12
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    @Snijderfrey Not quite: extra Jobs tend to fall in tax class VI, while the income from the main job will probably fall into class III (since the OP has a family). I assume this is what Sursula meant. Nov 21, 2023 at 19:28
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    @MaartenBuis: Taxation of income is computed on a yearly base and does not depend on your tax classes. When your yearly tax declaration is processed, any effects that stem from your tax classes are compensated for. Tax classes are just used as a proxy for other more complicated information which will likely influence your yearly tax debt, in order to avoid far too high monthly tax payments which would result in high tax refunds. But the influence of the tax class on your yearly net income is indeed zero (assuming that you do your tax declaration, which some people are not obliged to). Nov 21, 2023 at 20:32
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    Actually work permit implications are way more important, permission needs to be requested for a 2nd job, and it is not guaranteed that it will be granted, specially at the beginning.
    – Dr. Snoopy
    Nov 22, 2023 at 4:19
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Sursula already well covered the legal aspects, so just some comments on the 'is it welcomed?' part of the question. I would say the general answer in Germany is mostly no.

First a single postdoc salary is sufficient to support a family but money will be quite tight. Comparing to the US, there is significantly more governmental support, Kindergeld has already been mentioned, things like child care are a lot of cheaper (due to government subsidies) and the necessary financial safety cussion for random emergencies is much smaller.

Second, if you do find a single postdoc salary insufficient the general expectation would be for you spouse to work (possibly part time), not for you to do two jobs.

Of course you are free to make your own choices but if you tell your boss or colleagues that you are working two jobs don't expect a 'sure, we all have to do that' but rather a 'why would you do that?' kind of reaction.

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    I suspect that a 2nd job could exist that wouldn't provoke a reaction like 'why would you do that?', but not one that pays well - instructing an unusual sport, for example, or other things tending towards the paying hobby.
    – Chris H
    Nov 22, 2023 at 9:02
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    @ChrisH OP wrote that they want a second job because money is tight. That suggests it is not the kind of job that could be considered a hobby that happens to be paid.
    – quarague
    Nov 22, 2023 at 9:25
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    ... Thinking further (and from a UK context), tutoring may be an option, probably of students approaching the end of their time in school, and probably in related subjects. This is in demand in maths and physical sciences in particular. I don't know enough about the possibilities in Germany to suggest it though
    – Chris H
    Nov 22, 2023 at 9:35
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    (1) Note that OP would indeed need to tell their boss; the employment contract will stipulate that any outside employment needs to be approved by the employer. (2) The idea of a postdoc is to gain further academic experience and qualifications. This is typically a highly stressful job, and the "standard" 38 (or whatever) hours will already be not enough. Bluntly said, if a postdoc has enough time for a secondary job, they will not have a subsequent academic career, because they are not putting in enough academic work. Nov 22, 2023 at 10:46
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    +1 This. When reading the question I was thinking similar things, but I refrained from writing it down since I didn't find a way to phrase it as well as in your answer. Nov 22, 2023 at 11:32
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I have a few more insights, not because I am a post-doc, but because I was in the unsuspecting need to have a second job while I was starting an academic position, therefore working 50% / 50%.

I started my PhD in Germany a few months ago and due to some issues with my previous employer regarding the contractual obligations at the end of my employment period, I required to split the time between my jobs evenly, so that I would a) not have legal problems and b) to be able to finish my previous contract successfully and start my new job with as few hassles as possible.

For my contracts, I arranged a 50% / 50% split, with one of my incomes being taxed as "main" income (Class 4) and the "side job", or my previous contract, was taxed for a few months under Class 6, which is heavily taxed, but some of it can be reimbursed at the end of the year through a tax return form.

Nonetheless, as others point out, the expectation as a full-time employee of a university is that you will be there working full-time (40 hours), and some leeway is given for family situations (no childcare available some days, sick days). However, you do need to inform the university, as well as your group leader, if you have a second job. In my opinion, however, and from personal experience, I was not getting that much more money (due to the class taxation I mentioned earlier) and you do need to inform an absurd amount of people about your work situation. This would be, for example, if you have a fixed salary from a company. If you do side work such as

As Sursula mentions, Post-doc positions are based on "Tarifvertrag für den öffentlichen Dienst der Länder (TV-L)" https://oeffentlicher-dienst.info/c/t/rechner/tv-l/west?id=tv-l-2023&matrix=1 which means that the job is both unionized and determined by the agreed-upon salary of the Union.

In general, as Sursula mentions, your income will range from 4188.38€ monthly (as seen in the table I provided earlier) and 6433.67€. This range is mostly going to be discussed by your employer, and it will fall somewhere in between depending on your experience in the field, the agreed contract you are able to secure, and a long etc. Nonetheless you would most likely fall somewhere in the middle (I would be very wary if you are offered a E13/1 salary as a post-doc, even for a full time position that would be rare and I would take a closer look at what you are being offered).

After taxes, you will be looking into a netto income between 2600€ and 3800€, as a class 4 (being married), and depending on how you arrange your wife's income and work situation, you may be able to scratch a couple hundred euros (ca. 10% by some accounts, not very useful but here is a link in German about it: https://www.ahs-kanzlei.de/de/2016-12-steuerklasse-5) off your taxes and into your netto income. That is if your partner is not planning to do any job at all.

Now, depending on where you are planning to live, 2600€ is for the most part a tight budget. In Baden-Württemberg, in a mid-sized city you are looking to spend about 1000€ for rent (water and heating typically included for a 2-3 bedroom apartment), 300€ for services (power, internet, mobile with mid-tier phone included for 2 adults), 500-700€ for food (included food at the university), and if you have young children (<6 years old) you may be looking into spending 300-400€ for childcare. With some budgeting, you may be able to make it to the end of the month and have dinner out twice a month.

In Bavaria, and specifically Münich, I would absolutely not even think about it, as it is a very expensive city and you would need at least 4000€ for about the same level of living standard (At least from comments of friends who live there with a single income). All other states you may be looking into similar incomes but, for example, I know that Northrhein-Westfalia has a bit cheaper child-care, for example, and housing in smaller cities is slightly less aggressive.

But overall: I think the way you have done the math in the US compared to Germany you will see that much of the expenses are different, and therefore your salary expectations and budget may also be different. In my opinion, one post-doc may be tight but doable with some tax re-arrangements. Make sure to get yourself informed properly by a tax consultant so you maximize your monthly income without resorting to a second job.

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