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EXPLAINED: Which German companies are planning to cut jobs?

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EXPLAINED: Which German companies are planning to cut jobs?
A job termination letter. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Christin Klose

Amid lackluster economic times, several large companies in Germany have laid out plans to lay off employees. Who's affected, and in which sectors?


Germany has been in recession since autumn 2023, and the economic outlook isn't looking so rosy for the coming year: leading economists such as the Ifo Institute have predicted that the economy also isn't set to grow in 2024.

READ ALSO: Germany likely to fall into recession, central bank warns

This sluggish economy - triggered by the ongoing war in Ukraine and high energy prices and exacerbated by the ongoing shortage of skilled workers - is also having an impact on Germany's labour market. 

Numerous companies have announced cost-cutting programmes in recent days and weeks and are planning to trim their workforce. 

We take a look at some of the top companies who have - or plan to - slash jobs, and also why the news is not always doom and gloom. Think severance packages and positions which are simply reshifted.

If you are laid off from a job, check out our guide of next steps to take, and visit our list of English-speaking jobs in Germany.

Who’s cutting jobs?

Although business has been booming, software company SAP wants to cut around 8,000 jobs worldwide. The multinational company says they’re in the midst of a re-organisation, and want to focus more on its business with AI products in future. 

This requires different qualifications and different staffing levels. Where possible, employees are to be retrained. So far, all jobs in Germany are safe because a social plan prevents redundancies this year. However, SAP could still cut jobs through retirement offers or restaffing.

READ ALSO: What's the outlook for the German job market in 2024?

Automotive parts manufacturer, Continental, meanwhile, wants to axe 7,150 jobs. Although the figure applies worldwide, it will also affect jobs in Germany. It is certain that more than 1,000 jobs will be cut in administration. In addition, research and development locations are to be merged. It is still uncertain how many jobs will be lost. 

Bayer has already decided on a plan to downsize its workforce by the end of 2025. The number of jobs involved has not yet been announced. The chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant employs 22,000 people in Germany and around 100,000 worldwide. However, compulsory redundancies are ruled out until the end of 2026; instead, Bayer intends to reduce the number of jobs through severance payments.


The cost-cutting programme is likely to cost many managers their jobs because Bayer wants to merge departments and streamline its organisation. CEO Bill Anderson has often complained that the twelve management levels between him and Bayer's customers are too many. The works council has already approved the reorganisation plans.

Deutsche Bank had already announced a cost-cutting programme last year, which would result in the loss of at least 800 jobs. By the end of 2025, 3,500 jobs are to be cut, most of them in "non-customer-facing areas", such as administration and sales, the bank announced.

No cause for concern after Deutsche Bank's shares drop, says German chancellor. Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP

At Mercedes-Benz, managers are likely to be the most affected. CEO Ole Källenius is so dissatisfied with the car manufacturer's business that he wants to cut around 10 percent of his managers. However, the company has not yet announced how many of these jobs will be cut in absolute figures - or by when and how.


Just earlier this month, German appliance maker Miele also announced a plan to cut 2,700 jobs worldwide (with several hundred within Germany) amid a slump in demand for its household products. 

Porsche is planning not to extend around 600 fixed-term employment contracts at its main plant in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen this year, thus reducing the overall number of jobs. The Betriebsrat (works council) is still negotiating whether permanent positions can be found for some of those affected in other positions at the car manufacturer.

READ ALSO: Which German sectors have the most job openings?

Jobs are also to be cut at the parent company VW. This was announced by brand boss Thomas Schäfer at a meeting with the IG Metall trade union last November. To date, however, there has been no concrete savings programme - meaning the exact number of jobs set to be cut is still unknown.


This is also due to the fact that VW has a job guarantee until 2029, which rules out redundancies in Germany. VW would have to use other tools such as severance payments and making offers for early retirements.

Chemistry company BASF already announced 2,600 job cuts a year ago. Deutsche Telekom followed suit in October with cost-cutting plans that could result in the loss of more than 2,000 jobs. 

The service provider Telekom IT and the Group headquarters in Bonn are mainly affected. Pharmaceutical company Merck furthermore recently announced plans to cut around 750 jobs by the end of this year.

Life science company Sartorius AG did not fill around 230 positions at its headquarters in Göttingen last year. At online retailer Zalando, several hundred job cuts have either been made or are planned amid a slump in sales.


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