Förderprogramm "Integration durch Qualifizierung IQ"

FAQ – Termination/dismissal

What is a termination or dismissal?

This is a written declaration that ends an existing contractual relationship. For example, you can terminate an employment relationship. Both the employer and the employee can terminate the relationship. The employer dismisses the employee; the employee writes a termination.

There are two different types of termination/dismissal:

  • Ordinary termination is also called termination with notice because certain deadlines apply. These deadlines can be found in the employment contract or collective agreement. After the probationary period, the deadline is at least four weeks. But there can always be exceptions.
  • Extraordinary termination is also known as termination without notice. There are no deadlines. However, you need good cause for extraordinary termination (examples: violence in the workplace or theft). The employment contract is then terminated immediately.


In which form is a termination or dismissal effective?

There are three conditions that must be met in the event of a termination or dismissal (the criteria apply to both employees and employers):

  1. A termination or dismissal must always be in writing: Verbal termination or dismissal, or one sent by text message (SMS/WhatsApp) or e-mail is invalid. A termination or dismissal is only valid if it is in the form of a signed letter.
  2. In addition, the termination or dismissal is only valid once it has reached the person concerned. It must arrive in your letterbox or be handed to you personally. The side that sends a termination notice or letter of dismissal must later be able to prove that it was received by the person concerned. Please note: it is very important that your employer always has your current registered address (home address). You can only respond in good time if you receive the post from your employer immediately.
  3. If there is a works council in the company, it must be consulted about the dismissal beforehand. Ask the works council about this. If the works council does not know anything about the dismissal, it is not effective and you can defend yourself against it. This only applies if your employer dismisses you.

Please note: a termination or dismissal only has to be signed by the party issuing it.

If you receive a dismissal, you don’t have to sign it! You may be asked to sign a confirmation of receipt. However, this has to be a different document (which only confirms that you have received the dismissal).

Be careful! If your employer wants you to sign a notice of dismissal, it may be a notice of dismissal in your name or a cancellation agreement!

If you sign these documents, it makes it difficult to defend yourself against the dismissal later. As a matter of principle: you don’t have to sign anything immediately. You can always ask to read through the text at home in your own time, or ask for advice.

What can you do if you have been dismissed verbally/via WhatsApp or e-mail?

Your employer has dismissed you verbally, by phone, WhatsApp, text message or e-mail and told you to stop coming to work.

This is not a valid dismissal! Please note: you also need to take action against these (invalid) dismissals!

You should continue to go to work and offer your services among witnesses. If your employer then sends you away, you can take legal action against the dismissal within 3 weeks by filing an action for unfair dismissal with the labour court. If you allow this deadline to pass, the invalid dismissal will become effective. Then there is nothing more you can do. In the event of termination without notice, this can lead to disadvantages in terms of unemployment benefits.

What documents will you receive from your employer after the dismissal?

After your employment relationship has ended, you have the right to receive your papers:

  • Deregistration from social security, the printout of the electronic wage tax certificate, a certificate of employment and a simple or qualified reference.
  • A simple reference contains information about the duration of the employment relationship and your tasks.
  • A qualified reference contains an assessment of your performance, your social behaviour and comments on your skills in addition.
  • Make sure you get your last payslip and check it!
  • If you still have outstanding days of holiday, these must be paid out to you.
Notice periods

The law stipulates a notice period for dismissals or terminations of 4 weeks to the 15th or the end of a calendar month. Unless your employment contract or collective agreement stipulates otherwise, this also applies to you. You receive your written dismissal. The deadline period starts one day later.

Please note: if you work for a company for a longer period of time, the statutory notice period is extended for the employer's notice of dismissal, but not for your own notice of termination.

Your employment contract or collective agreement contains the rules on termination/dismissal. There are exceptional cases in which the deadlines are shorter, for example during the probationary period (then the deadline is usually only two weeks).

What does “special protection against dismissal” mean?

If someone has special protection against dismissal, they cannot receive ordinary termination (termination with notice). This special protection applies, for example, to:

  • Members of works and staff councils
  • Trainees after completion of the probationary period
  • Employees on parental leave or carer's leave
  • Pregnant women and women on maternity leave
What is a notice of amendment (Änderungskündigung)?

A notice of amendment is a termination in which your employer makes you an offer with different contractual conditions. In most cases, however, the conditions in this offer are worse than in the current employment relationship.

Important! Employers are not allowed to only terminate parts of an employment contract. Partial termination is not permitted.

You must agree to a contract amendment. If you do not agree to the change, your employer can either not terminate the contract at all or only the entire contract. At the same time, he/she can then make you a new offer. For example, to continue the employment contract with changed conditions. This is known as a notice of amendment. If you receive a notice of amendment, it is best to get help and seek advice from your Fair Integration advice centre.

What you can do against a termination:

If you receive a termination or dismissal, you need to react quickly. This is because you only have 3 weeks to take legal action against it!

  1. If there is a works council in your company, ask whether it has been informed of the dismissal. If not, then it is invalid.
  2. If you are a member of the trade union, contact the local office immediately. They will review the termination/dismissal. The trade union will also represent you in the labour court.
  3. If you are not a trade union member and still want to defend yourself against the dismissal, you must file an action for unfair dismissal with the responsible labour court. You can get support from a specialist lawyer for labour law.
  4. Register immediately as "arbeitssuchend" (looking for work) with the employment agency. You must contact them within 3 days of being dismissed. If you do this too late, you may lose benefits (money).
What is a Kündigungsschutzklage (action for unfair dismissal)?

If you want to defend yourself against a dismissal, you can only do so by filing an action for unfair dismissal with the responsible labour court. An action for unfair dismissal must be filed within three weeks of receiving the dismissal (receipt of the dismissal). You can go to the legal application centre for the responsible labour court and file an action for unfair dismissal. Or you contact a lawyer.

Important: if more than three weeks pass, you can no longer do anything about the dismissal.

If you have any doubts about whether you can defend yourself against a dismissal, it is best to seek advice from your advice centre or a lawyer as soon as possible.

Please note: the German Dismissal Protection Act might apply to you!

  • If you have been working in the same company for at least six months
  • and the company has more than 10 full-time employees subject to social insurance contributions (or has enough part-time employees),

then your employer must have a specific reason for the dismissal. This reason can be either company-related, personal or behavioural. You can have the reason reviewed by the court with an action for unfair dismissal. Even if the Dismissal Protection Act does not apply to you, there are certain cases in which you can take legal action against the dismissal. For example, if your employer does not observe the deadlines or notice periods.

Termination/dismissal during the probationary period: what you need to consider

If you are dismissed during your probationary period, there is usually no statutory protection against dismissal (more than 6 months in the company & company with more than 10 full-time employees). It may still be possible to file an action for unfair dismissal, for example if there were formal errors in the dismissal or if you have special protection against dismissal. Termination without notice can have many disadvantages for you. For example, you may be blocked from receiving unemployment benefits and receive a bad reference. This is why it is important that you defend yourself against termination without notice. Get advice from your Fair Integration advice centre.

What you can do if your employer asks you to resign

If your employer asks you to resign and you terminate the employment yourself, you will suffer many disadvantages: The employment agency or job centre will generally not pay any benefits for the first three months if the employee (i.e. you) resigns. It may be that you no longer want to work in the company. Then you should discuss your situation with the employment agency or job centre before you resign. It is best to find a new job first and then resign. If you resign, you should also request confirmation of receipt of the resignation.