The German economic system has two principal players: employers and employees. Because employees are at a structural disadvantage vis-à-vis employers, German labour law affords special protection to employees. Labour law is split into two different fields:
- Individual labour law which governs working conditions such as working hours, part-time employment and protection against unfair dismissal
- Collective labour law which governs the relationship between employees as a group and one or more employers, through, for example, collective agreements.
The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) protects employee rights through laws and regulations concerning, for instance, minimum wages and legislation on the posting of workers. The BMAS additionally responds to new problems such as employee data protection and bullying at work with proposals for modernising Germany's existing labour laws.