Losing your job is never easy. A really close friend of mine recently lost his job and in this difficult time. He did not know his rights and wanted to know If his termination was lawful or not. That is why in this guide I want to Help you Know your rights as an Employee in Germany. As it can be very helpful if you get Fired for a Job in Germany!
Problems with Contracts in Germany
Termination documents are usually written in dense, complicated German. And struggling to find legal advice in your native language makes this experience even more complicated and stressful.
Thats why To help you get through this difficult time I will be answering some questions I think are the most important if you are fired from a job in Germany so that you know your rights. Let’s start with the most important question.
Is there anything like a permanent job in Germany?
Yes and no if you have a permanent job contract. Yes in the fact that your contract is for an unlimited time frame, meaning that you do not have to renew your job contract every couple of months or years.
No in the fact that under certain conditions even your Permanent job contract can be Terminated. The termination conditions can be generally divided into Ordinary and Extraordinary termination.
Ordinary Termination in Germany
If you are fired from Job in Germany with ordinary termination conditions, the job contract is ended based on the conditions written in the contract. For example if you have a 1 year contract in your company and upon the end of this one year period your company decided not to extend this contract. This will result in ordinary termination at the end of the contract period.
Extraordinary Termination in Germany
If you are fired from Job in Germany with extraordinary termination, a reason for the dismissal needs to be given by the employer. If a very important reason exists, the job contract can even be terminated without a notice period effective immediately.
Contract Termination Conditions in Germany
If you are fired from a job in Germany it is absolutely essential to check if all the legal requirements for termination have been fulfilled by your company.
For example the termination letter must be signed by hand by a person that has the authority to terminate your contract. So a supervisor in many instances would not be the person responsible to sign your termination letter.
This letter can be given to you in person, dropped in your mail box in the office or delivered to your home address by trackable mail so that if you are not at home or on holidays this letter would be resent to you.
Termination notice given verbally, through text message or by email will not be considered valid. That being said notice given verbally or by email could be considered as a warning that you are about to get a written notice very soon.
The notice period varies according to how long you have worked for the company and is given in Section 622 of the German civil code (BGB). That said your contract can have different notice period lengths so be sure to check out your contract before signing. If you are on probation, the termination can be given by you or your employer for a much shorter period of time.
How to retain a Job after getting a Termination notice in Germany
I have another friend who had a 2-year contract with a probation period of 6 months. At the end of month number 8, he was given a termination notice citing a condition from his contract that he did not fulfill.
Within his contract was a condition that in the first 6 months of the employment he would he would get sufficient German language skills by getting a B1 German language certificate. Unfortunately he was not able to get this certification and he also did not show any progress in his language skills during day to day work in the company.
His employer gave an additional 2 months but he did not fulfil his contract conditions and thats why his contract was terminated. He did manage to retain his contract, but I will discuss that later on in the video.
He was given 1 months notice based on his contract conditions. As he had not taken any holidays during his employment he was entitled to 22 days of paid leave making his notice period effective by the end of the month.
How to Handle Job Termination in Germany
What my friend did was that he asked his employer to give him 2 months of unpaid leave. In addition to his current paid leave so that he would have 3 months to get a B1 language certificate. His employer agreed and within 3 months my friend passed the B1 exam and got his certificate. Not only did he continue his job after that but also got a permanent job contract when he resumed. Let me know in the comments below what he did was the right thing or not and what would you have done if you were in his situation.
My Friend got a termination notice even but if you have recieved a termination without notice the best thing would be to contact a lawyer immediately. That being said lawyer fees and usually very high and can be an additional burden upon you. In this situation having legal insurance in Germany can save you from legal fees.
My Friends termination was based on a reason, is it possible to be terminated with no reason?
Job termination in Germany without a Reason
If you work in a small company with less than 10 employees unfortunately you have no statutory protection against dismissal. Same is true if you are still in the first 6 months of your employment or probation period. Your company only needs to give a statutory notice period as discussed earlier.
This was also true for my friend who just lost his job, he was working in a company having less than 10 employees. That is why he was not able to to anything about his termination.
That being said if you are working in a company with more than 10 employees and have already finished your probation period of 6 months. Then the termination needs a valid reason. Although the employer does not have to give a reason when giving a termination notice.
Why you can be Fired from a Job in Germany
The reasons for termination can be divided into 3 categories:
Job Termination due to Behavioral Reasons
A behavioral reason for termination usually involves the employee’s actions. For example if they have been accused of stealing something or something more serious like harassment.
Job Termination due to Operational Reasons
Operational Reasons might mean that the employer is performing some structural changes in the company’s operations. For example, a department has not been performing well and that department is being dissolved. Maybe there are extreme financial situations in the company leading to the closure of a plant or a location. Or maybe having employees in Germany is too costly and your company is outsourcing to maintain its operations.
Job Termination due to Personal Reasons
A personal reason would be that the employer does not see the employee’s character as a fit for the company. For example the employee is constantly absent or does not perform well in the work environment. In any case, it’s always important to seek legal advice.
Severance Pay in Germany
If you are fired from a job in Germany, some employees get Severance pay from their Employers to reduce or totally remove the notice period. For some this can be a great option but for others it can be something very desasterous.
As companies often use the severance payments as a part of the termination agreement. Often that agreement includes the severance pay conditional on not taking the case to the labour court. By accepting the severance you may waive your right to object your employment termination.
Why you must Examine a termination letter in Germany
The termination letter is something that should be taken seriously due the conditions written on it. For example waiving off the rights to object your termination or An inclusion of a shorter notice period.
Some Malicious employers also make the Termination agreement in a way that encourages the employees to leave the company voluntarily. Meaning that there could be no notice period all together.
So if you find yourself or someone you know in a situation where a termination letter is presented. Please act carefully and get assistance to analyze the letter properly. Because if you sign this agreement then you cannot do anything later on.
Fired from a Job in Germany with Blue Card
If you are an expat who has a Blue card residence permit based on your job then getting fired from your job can make things even more complicated.
Upon termination you are obliged to notify your Local Ausländerbehorde. You may be given some time to find a new job, but how much time you get depends on the city and your specific Ausländerbehorde. A maximum of 6months is generally given is many cases to find a new job.
If you have paid contributions to the German system for a year you may also be entitled for Unemployment benefits during your job search. But in some cases it you might not get these benefits deep into unemployments. In that case having an emergency fund is absolutely crutial to help you and your family survive a difficult time. You can read my guide to know more about creating an Emergency fund in Germany.
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Disclaimer: None of the content in this article is meant to be considered as legal advice. I am not a legal or financial expert and am only sharing my experience. The information is based on my own research and is only accurate at the time of posting this article but may not be accurate at the time you are reading it.