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Labor Market Germany

Termination Notice Period in Germany Explained

There may be many reasons for termination. The employee has received a new job offer. There are problems with the boss. The employer is dissatisfied with the behaviour or performance of his employee.

In any case, a notice period must be observed in the event of a separation of the employment relationship. Otherwise, one of the parties may take action against the dismissal under labour law. The statutory notice periods for employees and employers can vary in length.

Notice period in labour law

In labour law, the legislature distinguishes between two types of dismissal. Ordinary termination and extraordinary (immediate) termination.

If an employment relationship is terminated by ordinary termination, different notice periods may arise. From:

  • Law
  • Employment contract
  • Agreements in the collective agreement (if any)

The statutory notice period for employees has been written down by the legislature in the Civil Code (BGB). That is in paragraph 622.

“According to the German Civil Code, termination of the employment contract must be at least four weeks and may take place either on the 15th or the end of a calendar month (basic notice period). In the case of dismissal by the employee, the period may not be longer than that for the employer.’

However, the periods of notice between employees and employers are different. If the employee resigns, the notice period is always four weeks. The deadline does not change with the time (in years) he has worked in the company. The situation is different for the employer. If the employer wants to terminate the employee, there may be longer periods depending on how long the employee has been employed in the company.

The notice period starts upon reception

Whether for employees or employers, the notice period begins when the dismissal is received by the other side. Legally effective access is possible in two ways:

  1. Handover of dismissal at the workplace
  2. Handing over of the dismissal at the employee’s place of residence

Termination shall be deemed to have been received if it can be assumed that the recipient has taken note of the termination.

In some cases, there are often legal disputes in court proceedings as to when access is legally effective. Especially in such cases, when it comes to access by letter, there is no agreement on the exact date of receipt of the termination.

Here is an example of how termination receipt is correctly recorded by letter:

For example, if the employer threw the dismissal into the employee’s mailbox on Saturday evening, it is legally assumed that the recipient received the dismissal on Monday. It is unusual to check the mailbox on Saturday evenings and no mail is delivered on Sunday. Therefore, the notice period from receipt on Monday applies. It does not matter whether the recipient actually checks his mailbox on Monday and sees his notices of termination or not. Termination by letter shall be deemed to have been received if the recipient had the opportunity to receive the letter. And that is the case on Monday.

Notice period during the probationary period

During the probationary period, employees and employers get to know each other. During this period, both parties will find out whether the joint employment relationship is unproblematic under the prevailing conditions. However, the probationary period is not only intended for getting to know each other. During this time, it is easier for both sides to end their working relationship in the event of dissatisfaction.

The following applies to termination during the probationary period:

1) According to the German Civil Code, the notice period is 2 weeks if the probationary period is limited to 6 months. As a rule, the probationary period is 6 months.

2) In the probationary period, there may be termination without notice in appropriate circumstances

3) The protection against dismissal only takes effect after the 6-month probationary period

Notice period in the collective agreement

In the collective agreement, the notice periods may deviate from the statutory deadlines and may be even shorter than the two-week notice period during the probationary period. The periods of dismissal agreed in the collective agreement between the employee and the employer then apply here.

Termination without notice during the probationary period – Possible?

Yes! Employers or employees may also terminate without notice during the probationary period. However, there must be extraordinary reasons for dismissal.

If an employee is considering termination without notice, the circumstances must be considered to be very onerous from a legal point of view. The dismissal of the employee must specify the reason for the termination without notice.

Example reasons for termination of the employee without notice:

  • Bullying, harassment, coercion
  • Safety of the worker is at risk
  • Payouts suspend
  • Employer does not comply with the employment contract

If an employer wants to terminate an employee without notice, the employer must first issue at least one warning to his employee. Otherwise, termination without notice during the probationary period is not legally effective.

Example reasons for termination of the employer without notice:

  • Theft
  • Company peace disturbed by employees
  • Unauthorized holiday taking without agreement
  • Refusal to work

Contact us if you have any further questions

Do you have any further questions? Something is still unclear to you? Please call us and we will help you.

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Lisa Meier

Lisa Meier has more than ten years’ experience in providing strategic advice and legal guidance on international trade, administrative and legal matters to foreign companies, associations, and governments doing business in Germany. She advises companies in a broad range of industries on successfully navigating the German economic environment.

Lisa brings a wealth of knowledge to Universal Hires’ marketing and client success team. In her free time, Lisa spends time exploring the unique city-life of Berlin and all the diversity that the East of Germany have to offer.

About Universal Hires

Universal Hires is Germany’s leading staffing provider. With expertise in recruitment and employer of record services, the company levarges its market entry support.

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