Employment and Social Affairs

Latest Update: September 2023

Employment in the natural resources sector

The extractive industry offers good industrial jobs, with a variety of different professions and activities. At the end of 2021 (2022), approx. 59,000 persons (59,000)1 were employed in the extractive industry. This corresponds to around 0.17% (0.17%) of all employees in Germany who are subject to social insurance contributions. Mining and quarrying, at around 65% (65%), had the highest number of employees, followed by the provision of mining and quarrying services at around 16% (15%).
Compared to the 2016 reporting period (1st D-EITI report), the sector employed about 12,000 (12,300) fewer workers in 2021 (2022), mainly due to the phasing out of hard coal mining by the end of 2018.

Employment under the mandatory social security scheme by economic sector:

Persons employed under the mandatory social security scheme as of the reporting date

31 Dezember 2021

No. of apprentices among these employees







Mining and quarrying in total, including



51,116 (50,754)







Coal mining













Extraction of crude oil and natural gas













Ore mining











Quarried natural resources, other mining products













Services for mining and quarrying













Source: Federal Employment Agency (2022), reporting date 31 December 2021

* For reasons of data protection and statistical confidentiality, numerical values of 1 or 2 and data from which such numerical values can be mathematically deduced are made anonymous.

Each direct job in the extractive industry is linked to further jobs in upstream and downstream economic sectors.2

The role of legislation

The German economic system is characterised by the interaction of free market activity and State social policy. However, a strong social partnership also exists – especially in the natural resources sector – and it can be used to balance existing differences of interest between employers and employees.
In principle, German legislation regulates a uniform (minimum) level of protection for employees (e.g., working hours, holidays, protection against dismissal, protective rights for young people, pregnant women and severely disabled persons, as well as safety and health at work, etc.). Above this level of protection and within the framework of their collective bargaining autonomy guaranteed by Article 9(3) of the German Constitution, the social partners are free to regulate working conditions independently for the particular company or the respective sector.
The statutory social security system provides protection against life risks such as unemployment, illness, the need for care, accidents, occupational disease and support in old age. Employees subject to social security contributions are covered by social insurance; self-employed workers are partially included in this protection. Social insurance benefits are mainly financed by equal contributions from employees and employers. One exception to this, however, is statutory accident insurance, which is financed exclusively by the employer. Tax revenue is also used for financing in some segments of social insurance. The social insurance institutions are public corporations with legal capacity and self-administration. Self-administration is generally exercised by the insured persons and employers.

The role and cooperation of the social partners


One of the main pillars of the social market economy in Germany is co-determination, i. e. the right of employees and their representatives to participate in operational or business decisions. The scope and form of co-determination differ according to the company’s size, legal form and industry.
Corporate Co-Determination is most extensive in mining and in the iron and steel producing industry (see Montan- MitbestG[Coal and Steel Co-Determination Act]3 Montan-MitbestGErgG [Supplementary Co-Determi- nation Act]4 ): In this case the supervisory boards are composed equally of shareholder and employee representatives. A labour director responsible for personnel and social matters is also appointed as an equal member of the management. Pursuant to the MontanMitbestG, his or her appointment is dependent on the approval of the majority of the employee representatives on the supervisory board.
For other companies which are managed in the legal form of a corporation or a co-operative and have more than 2,000 employees, equal representation of employees and shareholders in the supervisory bodies is also mandatory pursuant to the German Co-Determination Act (MitbestG). However, there are two important differences compared to co-determination in the coal and steel industries: In the event of a tie vote, the vote of the Chair of the Supervisory Board, which is generally assigned to the shareholder, has the casting vote. This double vote held by the Chairman of the Supervisory Board effectively overrides the parity between employees and the employer that formally exists. In addition to this, the labour director can also be appointed to the Supervisory Board against the votes of the employee representatives. For companies with 500 to 2,000 employees, the 1/3 participation of employee representatives on the supervisory board applies (DrittelbG)5.

Company Co-Determination is regulated in the Works Constitution Act. In every company in Germany with at least five employees, workers have the right to elect a works council. The works council represents the interests of all employees vis-à-vis the employer. It has different participation rights, especially in social, personnel and economic matters. A central instrument in works council work is company agreements, which – like collective agreements – are legally-binding agreements between the employer and the works council and regulate the employment relationship of the employees. Frequent topics are company regulations on working hours, data protection, health promotion, work safety and further training, all of which are tailored to the conditions prevailing in the company. However, the works council must also be involved in the introduction of new technical equipment and working procedures or the development of social plans in the case of planned changes in operations.

Tariff commitment

Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are guaranteed in Germany by the German Basic Law in Art. 9 GG. Collective agreements are concluded by one or more employers or employers’ associations with one or more trade unions. They are solely binding for their members (tariff commitment). However, it is common practice for employers bound by collective agreements to allow non-unionised employees to participate in the appropriate collective agreement by referring to individual collective agreements. Many companies that are not bound by collective bargaining agreements also orient themselves on existing collective agreements. In 20226, 32% of the natural resources sector companies7 were bound by collective agreements; 25% by a regional collective agreement and 7% by a company collective agreement. The collective agreements apply to 62% of the employees in the sector, with 25% being subject to the conditions of a regional collective agreement and 37% to those of a company collective agreement.


The demanding activities of the extractive industry require well-trained specialist personnel. Approx. 73% (74%) of the employees have a recognised vocational qualification8, another 11% (11%) have an academic qualification9, e.g. in engineering.
Vocational training in Germany is essentially provided through the dual vocational training system, in which training takes place in parallel at two places of learning. The trainee concludes a training contract with the company and learns the necessary practical skills and competences on the job. The second pillar of the system is the vocational school, which provides general and job-related theoretical knowledge. The duration of the training depends on the profession involved and varies between 2 and 3.5 years. During this time, the trainee receives a training allowance from the company. The successful completion of the course qualifies the candidate to directly exercise his or her profession as a qualified specialist.
The industry trains personnel in a number of different trades, including e.g. mechatronics technicians, electronics technicians, industrial and process mechanics, processing mechanics, mining and machine operators, mining technologists and industrial clerks. On the reporting date10, there were 1,887 (1,998) trainees among the employees of the extractive industry. This is a training rate of 3.2% (3.4%), which was below the German average of 4.7% (4.5%). A look at the individual sectors reveals a relatively differentiated picture for the extractive industry. For example, training rates in the quarried natural resources industry (WZ 08) vary from 1.5% (0.8%) to 3.5% (3.3%) in 2021 (2022), because the importance of trades varies and the proportion of semi-skilled workers varies accordingly.

Earnings level

Gainful employment plays a central role both in social and individual terms. There is no doubt that work is seen as the main source of livelihood, and that earnings are the most important component of personal income for employees. The average gross monthly earnings of full-time employees in the sector in 2021 amounted to €4,150 per month, and an additional €519 was paid monthly in special payments.11 The average monthly income in the extractive industry is thus a good 1.43% higher than the average in the manufacturing industry and a good 3.41% higher than the average income of full-time employees12 in Germany as a whole. Due to the deductible income tax and the proportionate social insurance contributions to be paid, the individual net wages of employees are significantly lower than the gross wages.
The average paid weekly working time was 40.0 hours, which was relatively high compared to the manufacturing industry as a whole (37.8).
The principle of equality between men and women applies in Germany. This principle also applies to wage determination which means that gender pay gaps in particular must be further reduced. This is the goal of the Act on the Promotion of Pay Transparency between Women and Men (EntgTranspG). It provides for an individual right to information for employees, reporting obligations for large companies and the request to large private employers to carry out company audits of the pay structure. The planned further development of the Act on the Promotion of Pay Transparency will also take into account the EU Pay Transparency Directive, which came into force in June 2023. This Directive provides for mandatory transparency measures for employers and strengthens the rights of employees to enforce the equal pay principle. The average gross monthly earnings of women in the extractive industry was €4,366, which amounts to 92.9% of the male employees’ earnings (€4,699). The gender pay gap in the extractive industry is therefore smaller than in the manufacturing industry as a whole, where women earned only 84.4% of what men were paid.

Diversity and equal opportunities

Different life experiences and work horizons of employees make a significant contribution to the economic success of companies. By consciously promoting diversity, companies can tap into an important success and competitive factor that has a positive impact on both companies and their workforces.
Diversity can be measured by a number of quantitative indicators, such as the proportion of women in all workforces and management, the proportion of foreign workers and the age structure of the workforce.
At the end of 2021, the proportion of women among employees in the sector who are subject to social insurance contributions was 13.5% (13.7%). The proportion of foreign employees was 6.5% (6.7%) of the total staff. 13
The proportion of female supervisory board members in the industry is very low at 14.3 % (fiscal year 2019). Only 10.8% of the board members of German extractive companies are women. Compared to other sectors, the extractive industry must act to increase the proportion of women in the workforce and in management positions. It should be noted here that the employment structure in the extractive industry has traditionally been characterised by male-dominated technical training occupations and courses of study.14
At 60.9% (61.4%) the 25 to under 55 age group represented by far the largest proportion of the workforce, followed by the 55 to under 65 group at 30.9% (30.1%). 6.9% (7.4%) of the employees were in the under 25 group, while 1,2% (1.3%) were over 65.
Equal opportunities are promoted in Germany by legal instruments such as the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG), which states that discrimination on grounds of race or ethnic origin, gender, religion, beliefs, disability, age or sexual identity in working life is unlawful.

Climate policy and structural change

The Federal Government has committed itself to implement the climate goals of the Paris Agreement15. In support of this commitment, coal-fired power generation in Germany will be phased out by 2038 at the latest, in addition to the cessation of hard coal production in 2018. The fall of the Berlin Wall brought profound changes to lignite mining in Germany’s eastern regions; the workforce in the lignite coalfields in the east was drastically reduced at the start of the 1990s.16 In order to find a socially just way to organise the phase-out of coal-mining and the associated structural change, one of the methods adopted by the Federal Government was to establish the Commission for “Growth, Structural Change and Employment”17 , which examined proposals on the organisation of the structural change in Germany from the point of view of energy and climate policy. The objective of the commission was to make recommendations as to the protection and creation of existing and new quality jobs under collective bargaining agreements in the regions concerned. Other recommendations aimed at ensuring a secure and affordable supply of electricity and heat at all times, and at maintaining and developing the coal-mining areas into regions that are attractive and worth living in.
The subjects covered in the Commission’s comprehensive dialogue were the requirements of climate policy, security of energy supply and competitiveness. This social consensus on the use of coal was confirmed in July 2020 by the German Bundestag and Bundesrat and resulted in the Act to Reduce and End Coal-Fired Power Generation (Kohleverstromungsbeendigungsgesetz – KVBG) and amendments to other laws such as the Coal Phase-Out Act and the Structural Strengthening of Coal Regions Act. The main component of the Coal Phase-out Act is the Act to Reduce and End Coal-Fired Power Generation (KohleverstromungsbeendigungsgesetzKVBG). A social compromise was reached with the passing of these laws. Coal mining and coal-fired electricity generation are usually located in structurally weaker regions and account for a considerable proportion of industrial value added in these areas. Depending on the region, one industrial workplace has indirect and induced employment effects in various other sectors.18
The extraction of lignite through open-cast mining influences the economic, ecological and social structure of the municipalities it directly affects as well as the municipalities in the coalfield adjacent to the open-cast mine. The principle of the polluter pays applies regarding the influence and use of infrastructures. The mining companies must organise and pay for compensation and also relocation and resettlement. Since the start of German lignite production in the early 1920s, 120,000 people have been relocated.19
Villages are still affected by resettlement. The owners of the affected areas are compensated by the companies for the resettlement. The same applies to property owned by the municipality. New municipal facilities are built in agreement with the municipalities affected. Rare cases of compensation for expropriation under mining law20 are set out in law (Art. 14(3)3 GG in conjunction with §84 et seq BBergG).
The amount of compensation payments are determined directly by the parties affected in the case of an agreement under private law; it is only in rare cases when expropriation/a surface lease is required that it is undertaken by the authorities after valuation by an expert. It can be examined by a court. The agreement on the path to phase out lignite influences the extension and adaptation of open-cast mines. New buildings envisaged for infrastructure purposes can be dispensed with, if applicable.

The lignite coalfields21 are being supported by the Structural Strengthening of Coal Regions Act22 that came into force on 14 August 2020 so that the coalfields can still exist as successful economic areas and compensation is provided for the loss of employment (see Effects of energy transition and the structural change). The Federal Government has also made a legal commitment to create 5,000 new jobs in federal authorities and other federal institutions in the coal regions by 2028.

The sites of the former hard coal power plants will also receive funding within the scope of the Structural Strengthening of Coal Regions Act – up to €1 billion by 2038. In addition, the former lignite mining regions of Helmstedt and Altenburger Land will each receive €90 million.
The new “STARK” funding programme23, which is not directed towards investments, is intended to support the objective of transforming the coal regions in an economically, ecologically and socially sustainable way and to make the coal regions model regions with an international profile for greenhouse-gas-neutral, resource-efficient and sustainable development (see also Effects of energy transition and the structural change).
In order to cushion the social impact of phasing out coal, the Federal Government followed the recommendations of the Commission for “Structural Change, Growth and Employment” and also introduced an adaptation payment for employees aged 58 years and older. The adaptation payment is paid for a maximum of five years and makes it easier for older employees to take early retirement. Details of the adaptation payment under the Act to Reduce and End Coal-Fired Power Generation (KVBG) were set out in separate adaptation payment guidelines of 3 September 2020 issued by the then Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs in agreement with the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Finance.

Corporate responsibility

At the international level, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (2011) and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct (last revised in 2023) provide an internationally recognised cross-sector framework for human rights due diligence and responsible business conduct. Although not legally binding, these principles and recommendations are in line with the expectations of the German government.
An increasing number of initiatives for greater sustainability are also being introduced at industry level. For example, the Mining, Chemical and Energy industrial union and the Construction, Agriculture, Environment industrial union compiled a joint declaration on the sustainable use of natural resources together with the German Building Materials Association and the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) in 2004.27 The high priority given to employee training is addressed in addition to the most environmentally-friendly mining of natural resources and the strengthening of biodiversity and resource efficiency. Employees and employers are also jointly committed to more sustainability in the industrial processing of natural resources. For example, the social partners (trade unions and associations) in the German cement industry founded the “Zement verbindet nachhaltig” (Cement bonds sustainably) initiative as early as 2002. In addition to nature conservation and environmental protection measures, the main topics here include the safeguarding of domestic production, the economic interests of the companies and the social interests of the employees. The main objective of the sustainability initiative is to foster the dialogue between politics and society, as well as trade unions and employers.28


In Federal States in which legislation does not include an excavation law and the State-level Nature Conservation Law does not apply to the extraction of non-energetic, ground-based natural resources in the context of dry excavations, this type of natural resource extraction falls within the scope of the relevant state building regulations.

Legal limitations also exist: State building regulations apply to the excavation of solid rock (limestone, basalt, etc.), for example, in quarries with an area of up to 10 hectares (ha) in which no blasting is carried out. In the event that this area is exceeded, or if water bodies are formed after completion of the extraction operations, the German Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchG) and/or Water Resources Act (WHG) are applicable.
In Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia, the above-ground excavation of non-energetic, ground-based natural resources in the context of dry excavations is determined at state level by the existing excavation laws (AbgrG). For the excavation of solid rock (limestone, basalt, etc.) in quarries where blasting does not occur, the AbgrG applies to sites with an area of up to 10 ha. In the event that this area is exceeded, or if water bodies are formed after completion of the extraction operations, the German Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchG) and/or Water Resources Act (WHG) are applicable. In the other Federal States, this type of natural resources extraction is regulated by the respective state building regulations or by the state-level nature conservation laws.

In general, the AbgrG applies to those raw materials the excavation of which is not directly subject to mining law or the mining authorities. These raw materials include (in particular) gravel, sand, clay, loam, limestone, dolomite and other rocks, bog mud and clays. However, the jurisdiction between AbgrG and mining law can vary from case to case in the case of certain raw materials, such as quartz gravels. The requested authority must always verify its own jurisdiction in each case. The AbgrG also encompasses surface area usage and the subsequent rehabilitation of the area.
The German Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchG) is the most important and practice-relevant law in the field of environmental law. It constitutes the basis for the approval of industrial and commercial installations. In the natural resources extraction industry, quarrying companies must have approval to extract stones and earth. Every quarrying area of 10 hectares or more must undergo a full approval procedure, including public participation and UVP (environmental impact assessment). A more simplified approval procedure is used for quarrying areas of less than 10 hectares.

The sphere of responsibility for the legal immission control approval procedure is fully specified in the Immission Control Acts of the Federal States. The Federal States are tasked with the administrative enforcement of the approval procedure. Each individual state’s Environment Ministry – the highest local immission protection authority – usually bears the responsibility for this procedure. Subordinate authorities include regional councils, district authorities and lower-level administrative authorities. Administrative jurisdiction generally lies with the lower-level administrative authorities.
The GDP measures the value of goods and services produced domestically (creation of value) within a given period (quarter, year). The Federal Office of Statistics calculates the GDP as follows: production value minus intermediate consumption = the gross value added; plus taxes on products and minus subsidies = GDP
The gross value added is calculated by deducting intermediate consumption from the production values, so it only includes the value added created during the production process. The gross value added is valued at manufacturing prices, i.e. without the taxes due (product taxes), but including the product subsidies received.

During the transition from gross value added (at manufacturing prices) to GDP, the net taxes (product taxes less product subsidies) are added globally to arrive at an assessment of the GDP at market prices’. Source: Destatis
The planning approval procedure under mining law is used for the approval procedure of a general operating plan for projects which require an environmental impact assessment (§§ 52(2a), in conjunction with 57 a of the BBergG).
There are different definitions and methodological approaches at the international as well as at the national level as to what subsidies are and how they are calculated. According to the definition of the German government’s subsidy report, this report considers federal subsidies for private companies and economic sectors (ie grants as cash payments and tax breaks as special tax exemptions) which are relevant to the budget. Subsidies at the federal level can be viewed via the subsidy reports of the federal states (see Appendix 5 of the German government subsidy report).
In compliance with § 68(1), Water Resources Act (WHG), the excavation of landowners’ natural resources such as gravel, sand, marl, clay, loam, peat and stone in wet extraction operations requires a planning approval procedure. The reason for this is that groundwater is exposed in wet extraction, resulting in above-ground water. The planning approval procedure is implemented by lower-level water authorities.

The procedural steps of the planning approval procedure are governed by the general provisions of §§ 72 to 78 of the Administrative Procedures Act (VerwVfG). Within the meaning of § 68(3), nos. 1 and 2 of the WHG, the plan may only be established or approved if an impairment of the common good is not to be expected and other requirements of the WHG as well as other public-law provisions are fulfilled.