Termination of employment in Germany - Important rules and regulations

Germany has rather strict laws and regulations, which protect employees from wrongful dismissals. If you have received a termination of employment notice and the employment contract is governed by German law (which is more often the case many would think - click to find out why), you may want to consider challenging the termination in German court.

 

I. Do's and Don't's once a termination notice has been received

 

The two most important rules, if you would like to challenge the termination of employment in a German court, are as follows:

 

1. Do not waste any time!

 

If a decision by a German labor court is sought, the most important rule to adhere to is § 4 Kündigungsschutzgesetz. It states, that a complaint against a termination has to be filed with the labor court within three weeks after the employee has received the termination notice. While there are exceptions, as a general rule and in most cases the complaint will be dismissed, if this three week deadline is not met. This means, that once the termination notice has been received, there is little time to waste.

 

2. Be careful with what you sign!

 

As well, if you have received a termination notice, it is not advisable to sign any statement or agreement that you elect to give up your right to sue in court. If you do so, the court will very likely dismiss your case.

 

It is unproblematic however, if you acknowledge with your signature that you have received the termination. 

 

 

II. Wrongful terminations

 

In Germany, a termination of employment can be unlawful for many reasons.

 

Most importantly, there is usually no at-will employment, which means, that the employer in Germany has no right to simply "hire and fire people", but needs to give a valid reason why the employee is being dismissed. Reasons can be either the (bad) behavior of the employee or business related reasons. Terminations without a specific reason can only be declared within the first six months of employment or if there is 10 or less people working within an operation in Germany.

 

If the employer cites business related reasons, it has to be explained why exactly this employee was chosen to leave and why there is no other way to keep him/her with the employer.

 

Other examples of an unlawful termination may be:

 

- the employee is being terminated due to a merger or a new contractor taking over a  task ("10-people-rule" does not apply)

 

- the employee is pregnant ("10-people-rule" does not apply)

 

- the employee is disabled and no approval was sought by German authorities for termination ("10-people-rule" does not apply)

 

- the employee was told, that his/her job position will not be replaced and someone else is hired shortly afterwards ("10-people-rule" does not apply)

 

- termination is declared out of "revenge" (whistleblower, "10-people-rule" does not apply)

 

The termination notice has to be in writing and signed. An e-mail or even a verbal termination of employment is not valid.

 

 

III. Notice periods

 

Unless there were special contractual notice periods agreed upon, the notice period for an employer to terminate an employee are as follows, if the employment relationship has lasted

 

1. less than two years: four weeks to the 15th or the end of a calendar month

 

2.  for two years: one month to the end of a calendar month

 

3.  for five years: two months to the end of a calendar month

 

4.  for eight years: three months to the end of a calendar month

 

5.  for ten years: four months to the end of a calendar month

 

6.  for twelve years: five months to the end of a calendar month

 

7.   for fifteen years: six months to the end of a calendar month

 

8.   for twenty years: seven months to the end of a calendar month

 

During an agreed probationary period, at most for the duration of six months, the employment relationship may be terminated with a notice period of two weeks.

 

 

IV. What can be done?

 

You can sue for reemployment within three weeks after you have received a termination notice. If you win, you keep your job.

 

You cannot sue for a severence payment, but very often this is agreed upon, if the empoyee accepts the termination.  So if your goal is a severence payment, then also a law suit for reemployment has to be filed to then seek a settlement with a severance payment. A usual settlement (rule of thumb) is a severance payment of 0,5 monthly salaries for each year with the employer.

 

 

V. Attorney's fees / Fees in German labor court

 

I provide initial consultations and representation in labor law. 

 

1.) According to German law I may charge up to 190 EUR + 19 % VAT (226,10 EUR inkl. VAT) for initial consultations, if no fee is agreed upon (https://dejure.org/gesetze/RVG/34.html)

 

Please contact me via e-mail or phone  to agree on a certain fee. 

 

There is of course no charge for an initial consultation, if I represent you after the initial consultation.

 

2.) Attorney's fees for representation out-of-court and/or in court are based on the gross salary of the employee. Please feel free to inquire for a fee estimate. 

 

3.) Unlike in regular German civil court there is no "winner-takes-it-all-rule" in first level labor court, which means that the parties each bear their own costs regardless of the outcome of the case. There is no court fee, if a settlement is reached or if the law suit is abandoned at an early stage. 

 

4.) All legal fees in relation to labor law are tax-deductible expenses acc. to German tax laws. If you have a legal insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung), then the insurance will cover all expenses, if labor law is included in your  insurance policy.

 

 

VI. Contact information

 

You can reach me at  0631 - 84 27 759 or you can also write me an e-mail and I will respond within one day. 

 

Dirk Polishuk

 

Europaallee 10

67657 Kaiserslautern

 

Tel: 0631 / 84 27 759

Fax: 0631 / 27 75 73 009

 

E-Mail: kanzlei(at)polishuk.de

 

 

Kommentar schreiben

Kommentare: 43
  • #1

    Monghee Lee (Freitag, 30 August 2013 23:04)

    Hello,
    I resigned my company on the mid of August. I already submitted resignation letter and reported meldung for my umemployment from October 2013 to Arbeitsamts. But I have to submit other document which i can explain the reason i have to leave. the main reason is the stress from over time working. I can explain the reason to amt but worrying if the Arbeitsamt will accuse the company due to overtime work. some times i had to work over midnight or later. In case it is illegar to do work very late, the amt can accuse the company even i dont want it? I dont want to make big trouble with the company i am working now.
    Thank you for your e-mail in advance.
    Best regards.

  • #2

    Dirk Polishuk (Samstag, 31 August 2013 08:53)

    Thank you for your comment.

    It is correct, that the German "Arbeitsagentur" is asking for the reasons, if the resignation was voluntarily. If the "Arbeitsagentur" does not think that valid reasons for resignation exist, it will not pay out any umemployment benefits for up to 12 weeks. This is ruled in § 159 SGB 3.

    In Germany, the hours an employee may work per day and week are ruled by the Arbeitszeitgesetz. If the employer disregards the Arbeitszeitgesetz on a regular basis, the employee may resign. Violations of the Arbeitsgesetz are misdemeanors, but can even constitute a criminal offense in (very) severe cases. If the Arbeitsagentur will have charges pressed or not cannot be said for sure, however it can be done against the will of the employee.
    Please do not use the comment section for follow up questions, but write me an e-mail or call me.
    --

    Dirk Polishuk
    Tel: 0631 / 84 27 759
    E-Mail: dirk.polishuk@polishuk.de

  • #3

    Leonardo (Samstag, 29 März 2014 04:47)

    Hi,
    I work more than 10 years in frankfurt airport for British company. Were 4 workers for this firwarding company.
    Am I entitle to geg separation pay or what is my right as a employee?

    Thank you

  • #4

    Dirk Polishuk (Samstag, 29 März 2014 13:28)

    Hello Leonardo,

    Thank you for your comment.

    In Germany, there is no entitlement by law for a separation or severenace payment.

    It is however possible and common to negotiate a separation or severance payment, that such a payment is done, if the employee refrains from sueing for re-employment. In such negotiations it is usally agreed on a payment half a month for every year with the company, so in your case it would be 5 months.

    It is however very important, to also then sue for re-employment within three weeks after receipt of the termination notice, if no agreement has been reached in order to keep the chances to reach an agreement in court then.

    Please do not use the comment section for follow up questions, but write me an e-mail or call me.
    --

    Dirk Polishuk
    Tel: 0631 / 84 27 759
    E-Mail: dirk.polishuk@polishuk.de

  • #5

    Anna (Montag, 23 Februar 2015 13:22)

    Hello,

    If you have a notice period but you can not stay till the contract is finished after you resign, and you do not get an agreement with the company, what can happen? Can they sue me? What are the consequences?

    Thank you in advance.

  • #6

    Dirk Polishuk (Dienstag, 24 Februar 2015 08:42)

    Hello Anna,

    if you have a notice period, but you cannot stay until the contract is finished, you can actually be sued for any costs that the company may have to replace you for that time you left early, for instance if a substitute has a higher wage.

    I doubt however that this will happen.
    --

    Dirk Polishuk
    Tel: 0631 / 84 27 759
    E-Mail: dirk.polishuk@polishuk.de

  • #7

    Leandro (Mittwoch, 30 September 2015 01:20)

    I from Brazil. I am not sure if I will need a lawyer or not.

    I have the following question:

    I have signed a work contract with a German company, and one of the clauses says that if I don't take up the employment, I need to pay one month of Salary. Is this legal?

    I have not started working for them, and I would like to not proceed and move to other company.

    Here is the clause:

    "The Employee undertakes to pay a penalty for breach of contract in the amount of the normal gross monthly remuneration, if he intentionally and unlawfully fails to take up the employment."

    They are saying if I don't pay, they will sue me.

    DO I need to sign any letter telling them that I will not proceed with my contract?

    Do I need to pay this month of salary

    PS.: I also sent this question by email, but decided to put here in your site, for the sake of helping out other people. Congrats by you work. It's great!

  • #8

    Dirk Polishuk (Mittwoch, 30 September 2015 12:39)

    Dear Leandro,

    it could be, that this clause is valid and that you have to pay the penalty. However, without having seen the contract, a definite answer cannot be given. Especially, the penalty has always be in relation to the notice period according to the contract, pls. see the decision by the High Federal Labor Court:
    http://lexetius.com/2010,4972

    You have to sign a letter (Kündigung) , if you would like to cancel the contract.
    --
    Dirk Polishuk
    Tel: 0631 / 84 27 759
    E-Mail: dirk.polishuk@polishuk.de

  • #9

    Paul (Freitag, 05 Februar 2016 20:10)

    Hello .. Good evening.
    I would like to explain my situation.
    I'm working to 7 months in a German company. my trial period was 3 months and have effective contract.
    This week I had an accident at work, a ladder broke and I fell on the floor.
    I went to the hospital and said it was an accident at work and I have a knee problem, and doutror said he had to stay home for at least a week and take exams.
    My boss sent a letter of dismissal, with a maturity of five days, without reason.
    While I was at home for an accident at work and being at home by doctor's order with all legal papers sent to my boss, how can he fire me without reason?
    I would ask what I can do in this situation, because I'm not German, and do not understand everything, but I do not have reasons for that, and I suffered an accident at work by defective material.

    thank you

    Paul

  • #10

    Dirk Polishuk (Samstag, 06 Februar 2016 12:47)

    Hello Paul,

    whether the termination is legitimate depends on the certain circumstances.

    However, a notice period of only five days is not correct according to German law. The notice period is four weeks to the fifteenth or to the end of a calendar month. Please see here § 622 German Civil Code:

    http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_bgb/englisch_bgb.html#p2603

    You can give me a call during regular office hours.

    Sincerely

    Dirk Polishuk
    Tel: 0631 / 84 27 759

  • #11

    Sharad (Montag, 22 Februar 2016 19:08)

    Hello All ,
    Dirk is a Good Lawyer he solved my case..
    Very easily..i recommend him.

  • #12

    Amit (Montag, 04 April 2016 09:52)

    I have issue with non-timely salary payment from my employer.
    In last 5 months, from nov till now,
    I have only recd salary in feb with previous arrears.
    Now, again for March I haven't yet received any salary. This is also affecting the rent payment to the own.
    I am on deputation employment and can I raise for grievances with German labour and way forward



  • #13

    Dirk Polishuk (Montag, 04 April 2016 12:04)

    Amit,

    you are welcome to send me an e-mail with your contact information and I will give you a call.

    Sincerely,

    Dirk Polishuk

  • #14

    Hairo (Montag, 25 April 2016 19:01)

    Hi,
    I started to work in a company almost 6 months ago. Due to a couple of episodes of deep anxiety I am planning to resign next week, just a few days before the 6 months (which is the end of the probation period).
    As I do not want my reputation to be damaged, I wil tell the company that I leave due to personal reasons, not because of anxiety.
    I would really appreciate it if you could advice on the following:
    - Do I have to provide with the real reason in the letter to the company?
    - In case I provide the real reason to the Unemployment Office, will the company be made aware of it?
    - Does the fact of leaving due to anxiety have a positive impact on the start date of the unemployment benefits payment?

    Thank you very much in advance.

  • #15

    Dirk Polishuk (Dienstag, 26 April 2016 05:17)

    Hairo,

    you are welcome to send me an e-mail with your contact information and I will give you a call.

    Sincerely,

    Dirk Polishuk

  • #16

    Vivek MAlhotra (Freitag, 03 Juni 2016 09:22)

    Hello ,
    I would like to tell my Situation. I am an employee of a german reputed firm since past 4.7 years. MY department was dissolved last year and I was shifted to another team. Now they say they cannot find role suited for my qualification so they want to end my unlimited contract. they are offering 6 months paid salary leave to search job, letter of recommendation some compensation money at end of 6 months which is not yet confirmed.
    I have had a regular pay rise with good reviews in my work. no complain. I was also planning to make a change in company.

    I am not fully aware of the laws, so my query is-

    1-Does signing this agreement show anything bad for my cv. Do I have to disclose it to my new company or do they have any chance to find it?

    2- Since hey have already said they will be giving compensation, is it possible I can ask more as I know they cannot dismiss me just like that, and they would not risk bad reputation if I go against the dismissal in court.

    (p.s- I have not signed anything yet, just a meeting where I was informed this is what is going to happen, And there will be a next meeting later next week )
    regards,
    Vivek.

  • #17

    Dirk Polishuk (Freitag, 03 Juni 2016 10:44)

    Dear Vivek MAlhotra,

    you are welcome to send me an e-mail with your contact information and I will give you a call.

    Sincerely,

    Dirk Polishuk

  • #18

    Rob (Montag, 20 Juni 2016 15:46)

    Hello i am working for a german company. I have signed a aufhebungsvertrag ending the contract sooner than normal time. I did it with a one month notice. During this notice, due to the very bad behavior of another colleague, I felt tremendous mental pressure and working there became very difficult for me. I also complained against this colleague to my boss and later I gave a medical certificate from doctor for the remaining two and a half weeks. I did not know what else to do. Can anything bad happen to me ?

  • #19

    Kim (Donnerstag, 30 Juni 2016 08:05)

    I am newly employed by a security company in an airport,In the Interview the manager told me he will put me to a certain project of an airline that is planned until the Ende of June,but we funished the project earlier.(June 5 he pulled me out of the project)and AS he said i am not only hired because of that project.So,put me to the other dept.The Problem is:i have to call everyday for the next Schedule.I accepted everything because i need to earn hrs.but in a certain dept.i can feel i am not welcome and heard some Bad remarks from collegues,like i speak bad german.I Spoke with the manager and i told him to terminate me,if he thinks i am not qualified for the work but he Tried to put me to another dept.i want to go but he doesnt want to fire me out.I am still in Probation time.what is the rule?how will it affect me?

  • #20

    Dirk Polishuk (Freitag, 01 Juli 2016 08:14)

    Kim,

    you are allowed to terminate your contract. The notice period is either according to your contract or the aformentioned ones in my article.

    However, if you terminate your contract you will very likely be barred from unemployment benefits for up to 12 weeks.

    Dirk Polishuk

  • #21

    snoopy (Freitag, 02 September 2016 10:16)

    Hello,
    Im a regular employee working in germen company.me and colleagues something arguing ,now they dont like me cause i always against all negative they do.. Is that posible that i get work termination? they write complain and some people sign to this complain. Thank you...

  • #22

    Pandey (Dienstag, 01 November 2016 16:15)

    Hi ,

    I was suppose to start from today at the German firm. In the probation period starting from today , I had two weeks of notice period.

  • #23

    Ragas (Montag, 21 November 2016 16:29)

    I am into the 2nd month of my probation with a giant pharma company. I was interviewed by Miss X and her boss, and took up the job. However I only found out that I was going to be reporting into someone ( Miss Z was hired a few months before me and never go the opportunity to either interview me or talk to me ) else just a couple of days before I was to join and I had already resigned from previous organization.
    Miss Z and I haven’t got along from the day I have joined and she has been very critical of anything that I have delivered in the past 7 weeks of being in this organization, also feels a bit of bullying.

    I had a one on one with Miss Z and advised here that I was not happy , she seemed very happy that I brought this up and immediately told me that it would be in both are interests If I left the organization as I was not a fit culturally as well as my skills were not to her expectation. I have couple of problem one is repaying back the relocation fee. Is there anything I can do and can workers council help me here.

    Thanks

  • #24

    Dirk Polishuk (Dienstag, 22 November 2016 13:03)

    Ragas

    you are welcome to send me an e-mail with your contact information and I will give you a call.

    Sincerely,

    Dirk Polishuk

  • #25

    Delia (Dienstag, 29 November 2016 18:14)

    Dear Dirk,
    I was let go from my job this week. My boss has been informing my colleagues of the reason for the termination (supposedly, I am redundant), even though we all know that the termination was retaliation for raising employment complaints. Anyway, is the reason for my dismissal confidential? Or is my boss free to tell my colleagues what the "official" reason is? Sincerely, Delia.

  • #26

    Muharrem Demarku (Montag, 30 Januar 2017 17:13)

    Die Voraussetzungen des 39 Aufenthaltsgesetzes in Verbindung mit 26(2).Beschäftigungsverordnung sind nicht erfüllt.Im Übrigen that die Bundesagentur für Arbeit ihre Zustimmung zur Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels zum Zweck der von Ihnen beabsichtigten Erwerbstätigkeit versagt .
    Can some one plese what these rules means in specifik way the point 39 and 26(2)in germany labor low.

  • #27

    Dirk Polishuk (Dienstag, 31 Januar 2017 09:34)

    Muharrem Demarku

    the relevant clauses can be found here:

    http://www.buzer.de/gesetz/10683/a181638.htm
    https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/aufenthg_2004/__39.html

    You are welcome to send me an e-mail with your contact information, if you would like an offer for an initial consultation.

    Sincerely,

    Dirk Polishuk

  • #28

    Gregorio Pampliega Rodriguez (Montag, 06 Februar 2017 15:50)

    Hello,

    Im still in my probation period which lasts till the 28th of February. In my contract says that during this time I can resign with a notice period of 15 days. This means I should it latest the 13th of February.

    The issue is that I wont get the contract with my new employer before that time.

    What shall I do? In the case I send the resignation letter after 13th of February, Im violating the 15 days notice period, what could happen?

    Thanks a lot,
    Gregorio.

  • #29

    Dirk Polishuk (Dienstag, 07 Februar 2017 10:48)

    Dear Gregorio Pampliega Rodriguez

    the Probezeit-Kündigung can be done on the last day with a notice period of 14 days. The original has to be with the employer on this day.

    Sincerely,

    Dirk Polishuk

  • #30

    Janaina (Montag, 27 Februar 2017 08:21)

    If foreign got fired during probation time, how long is enable to stay in country?

  • #31

    Pinay (Dienstag, 04 April 2017 23:57)

    Hi. I am a nurse from the Philippines. Before i left my country i signed a one year contract with my employer. Then upon arrival here i signed another 2 year contract. So 3 years all in all. But then after getting my certificate as "Gesundheits und Krankenpfleger" i signed a new contract stating "unbefristet". Now i want to resign from my job and look for a better oppurtunities. But I am afraid that i need to pay my employer a big amount. What contract is valid now?

  • #32

    Pinay (Dienstag, 04 April 2017 23:58)

    * to look for better oppurtunities

  • #33

    Dirk Polishuk (Mittwoch, 05 April 2017 07:59)

    Pinay,

    Thank you for your inquiry.

    I sent you an offer for an initial consultation on the topic.

    Sincerely,

    Dirk Polishuk

  • #34

    ali mujtaba (Montag, 15 Mai 2017 13:20)

    Hello,

    I want to quit my job as my wife got accident in canada. And she is alone over there. she has got her knee surgery appointment in July and it will take take 3-4 months for complete recovery. I need to be with her and we recently got married in April this year.
    my ternimaion period is now 3 months. could you please guide me how can i quit my job in June or mid of July so that I could be with her and help her.

    thanks
    Ali

  • #35

    Dirk Polishuk (Montag, 15 Mai 2017 14:17)

    Ali

    you are welcome to send me an e-mail with your contact information and I will give you a call.

    Sincerely,

    Dirk Polishuk

  • #36

    Misha (Donnerstag, 13 Juli 2017)

    Hi

    I have to join a German company on 1 September. But in between they are offering new contract which is limited and different domain. I don't like the job and I want to quit. Can I resign on first day ?.

    In the current contract it is written, the contract cannot be ended before it start.

    Or shall I join and second day I should resign ?

    Thank you in advance for your support .

    Best regards ,
    Misha

  • #37

    Dirk Polishuk (Freitag, 14 Juli 2017 07:04)

    Misha,

    Thank you for your inquiry.

    You are welcome to send me an e-mail with your contact information, if you would like an offer for an initial consultation.

    Sincerely,

    Dirk Polishuk

  • #38

    Victoria (Montag, 28 August 2017 13:11)

    Hello!
    My contract says I need to give my employer a 3 months resignation notice. I was wondering if by any chance after I tell them, they could tell me they want me to leave right away instead of in 3 months? Or is it a period we both need to respect? In case they wanted to fire me they also would need to give me 3 months notice according to the contract. I don't have a replacement job yet so I'm counting on these 3 months notice period.

  • #39

    Dirk Polishuk (Montag, 28 August 2017 15:07)

    Hello Victoria,

    The notice periods in contracts usually apply to both parties. So you may stay on your job for three months after you put in your notice.

    If your are terminated with a shorter notice period (for instance as a reply to your resignation) you should challenge the termination in court within three weeks after you have received the termination (Kündigung). This can be done either with or without at a lawyer.

    Sincerely

    Dirk Polishuk

  • #40

    Monica Real (Dienstag, 29 August 2017 19:46)

    My company is going through a re-structuring and has to lay off workers. It has a "volunteer leave program" where allegedly anyone can apply. I have been offered to take a job which would be a step back in my career, but they have graded it at the same level of my current position. I opted for the volunteer program but the company states that since I have been offered a position I no longer qualify for the voluntary leave which pays me for every year work. I have been basically told that I either take the position or I get fired and leave with nothing. Can they legally do that?

  • #41

    Dirk Polishuk (Mittwoch, 30 August 2017 10:13)

    Hello Monica Real,

    Thank you for your inquiry.

    You are welcome to send me an e-mail with your contact information, if you would like an offer for an initial consultation.

    If your are terminated, you should consider challenging the termination in court within three weeks after you have received the termination (Kündigung). This can be done either with or without at a lawyer.

    Sincerely

    Dirk Polishuk

  • #42

    Anna (Mittwoch, 13 September 2017 00:43)

    Hello,
    I have a question regarding working after being fired. My company fired me because of operational reasons, I have 3 months notice period in my contract and they want me to still come to the office and work for those 3 months or until I find a new job. Is this legally ok? I have never heard about such a case, I thought that being fired means that the employee doesn't need to work anymore and can just stay at home and look for a new job while receiving salary for 3 months.
    Thanks for your help!
    Anna.

  • #43

    Dirk Polishuk (Mittwoch, 13 September 2017 07:35)

    Hello Anna,

    it is OK, that your are asked to work during the notice period as you are still on a running contract.

    The law says however that upon request (!) you should receive an "appropriate" amount of time in order to get a new job:
    https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bgb/__629.html

    This applies particularly to interviews. "Appropriate" is the time you need. If the interview ist in the same town/city, you might get two to three hours off. If the interview takes place somewhere else, then perhaps the entire day.

    It would also apply to an interview with recruitment agencies or the Arbeitsagentur.

    Sincerely

    Dirk Polishuk