The Berlin Life

Resigning From Your Job In Germany? Expect A Long Notice Period.

publishedabout 1 month ago
3 min read

Guten tag dear Reader,

I remember when I was moving to Berlin (for a second time!) back in the fall of 2014 and I had to quit my job in Canada. I was nervous to give my boss the news, and also sad at the thought of leaving. I had a good job working for a NGO which does meaningful work and part of me wanted to remain there. With mixed feelings I gave my resignation and while my boss was sad to see me go, he knew how much I loved Berlin and how I'd been aching to get back. Two weeks later, I had my last day of work, ending with a lovely and emotional farewell lunch with my colleagues.

The sticking point here is the "two weeks later". When I quit my job, I only had to give two weeks notice! While typical in Canada, this is the not the case in Germany where notice periods are significantly longer.

This brings us to the point of today's newsletter - Germany's longggggg notice periods. Let's dive in:

How long are notice periods in Germany?

Germany does have really long notice periods, running the gamut of anywhere from 30 days notice, 60 days, 90 days, and for some high-level positions, even longer notice periods. There's often further rules, like providing notice before the end of the month in which you want to resign.

Take for example, the contract I have with my current company which stipulates I need to provide 90 days notice. This means if I want to start my next job in November 2022, I need to provide them with notice by July 31, leaving me with them for July, August, and September. If I provide notice on August 1, I'd only be able to start my new job in December.

This was definitely surprising to learn when I moved to Germany and initially, the notion of long notice periods really didn't make sense.

All of that changed when I learned how long notice periods work.

How do long notice periods benefit everyone?

Long notice periods are mutually beneficial.

Companies have ample time to recruit and hire someone to replace you if necessary, there's sufficient time to develop and complete a thorough handover of your work responsibilities, there's time to train others if needed, and lastly, they can count on the continuity of your work for a set period.

Long notice periods exist to protect employees as well. If your company decides to terminate your position, whether you're being fired or made redundant, they are legally obligated to pay you for the duration of your notice period. You get an additional two weeks for every year working at that company as well.

Using my own personal situation as an example, if my company decided to make me redundant, they'd have to pay me for three months (including my health insurance). I'd get an additional half month's severance because I've worked there for over a year.

Other good things to know about long notice periods?

1) When a company lays you off, you may be let go immediately or they may ask you to keep working for the remainder of the period.

2) Financial amounts, your final working date, and more will be outlined in a formal termination agreement provided by your employer.

Whatever you do, do not sign the agreement right away, even if they pressure you to sign it on the spot. You have the right to walk away, think about whether you want to accept the agreement "as is" or if you want to ask for more. It's recommended to have the termination agreement reviewed by a German lawyer. They can help you obtain a more favourable settlement. As such, it's recommended for you to have legal insurance to get help when these situations occur.

3) Once you provide your employer with formal notice (it needs to be done in writing), you can work out your final working date. It can often be reduced by using up any earned vacation days. If you're really eager to move on to your new company, some employers may agree to you leaving earlier. Note, they are not obligated to do this, so it's possible they may decline your request. Employers can also opt to end your work earlier than the legal end date - this is common when they run out of work for you to do. In any case, they still need to compensate you accordingly.

This type of generous severance and protection is uncommon in Canada, so upon learning about this, I immediately became a fan of long notice periods. It makes me feel safer knowing I have this financial safety net in place, giving me plenty of time to seek out new work opportunities.

What do you think about long periods? Are you for or against? Did we miss any vital information? Hit reply if you want to comment or ask me questions, or even better, start a discussion in our Facebook group.

Until next time,

Founder - The Berlin Life