When you quit your job und submit your termination letter, it’s often an unpleasant thing for you, your team, and your supervisor, too. If you do everything legally right, then nothing stands in the way of your new job
Are you already imagining how great it would be to quit?
Well, before you actually resign and write your termination or resignation letter I need to ask one question first: Do you already have a new job in your pocket?
Is the new contract in front of you, printed out and with the legally valid signature of the new employer? Super, the matter is official then.
Now, and only now, you may write your termination letter and hand it over.
Forgive me for making such a fuss about this. However, I need to emphasize this point strongly: Even though an employment contract might be already discussed, planned, or kind of pre-announced by HR, ANYTHING can still happen at the last moment. And then you’re left with no contract at all.
Things like that happen more often than you might think. Indeed, it’s more than a shame when you’ve quit one job and the next one is still a long way off. Below in this article, I give a hint, of what you have to consider when applying for your unemployment benefits.
The German labor law is hell!
The German „Arbeitsrecht“ (labor law) is evil. Well, what I mean is that German labor law is quite complicated. Kind of like our tax law 🙊.
That’s why it’s better to observe the legal requirements and write a correct termination letter. I’ll tell you what you need to take care of – even though I’m not a lawyer 😁.
Normally a termination is only unpleasant, but not complicated. It’s understandable if your boss supervisor and your colleagues are sad about your leaving. Maybe they are personally disappointed, maybe there will be tears. Or they’re angry.
If your employer doesn’t agree with your leaving at all, you should be especially careful not to make any mistakes when passing your termination letter.
Misunderstandings or differences of opinion about the number of days of leave still outstanding, the charging of overtime or with the ongoing tasks or the like can be very unpleasant.
The legal rules for termination are always the same and apply to every contractual relationship.
There are four steps to quit in the proper way. Let’s go through them one by one. Shall we?
#1 Are you still on probation?
For your own planning, it’s important that you know the notice period that applies to you.
The period of notice is the time between receipt of the notice of termination, i.e. the day on which your notice of termination is officially received by the company, and the final termination of the employment relationship.
Legal terms of notice (“Kündigungsfristen”)
Type 1: First six months on the job
The statutory notice period in the first 6 months of a new employment relationship is two weeks. It doesn’t matter on which day of the month you give notice. The reason for this is that it’s clear to the legislator that the first months are a kind of test phase.
And you want to make it as easy as possible to quit in case the test is not satisfactory.
Type 2: From the 7th month on the job
If the employment relationship has already existed longer than 6 months, termination should be somewhat more predictable for the employer and the employee. For this reason, the law stipulates a notice period of 4 weeks to the 15th of a calendar month or to the last day of a calendar month.
Calculation Example: You want to hand in your notice of termination on 6 June. That means you can submit your notice of termination on 6 June, stating that you terminate your job for 15 June. Your last working day will be exactly four weeks later, on 15 July.
If you accidentally make a mistake with the formal requirements of your termination letter, your termination may be invalid.
This can have really unpleasant consequences. Like, you might not be able to start your new job as you have to stay in your previous job for a longer period of time. Upps!
That’s why you better write „I hereby give you my termination at the next possible date“.
#2 What notice period is in your contract?
When your probation is over and you’re contract is unlimited, you need to check what notice period for a termination is part of your contract.
Basically, two regulations might apply to you:
#1: Your work contract
#2: The collective agreement („Tarifvertrag“)
The „Tarifvertrag“, if applicable to you, which is the collective agreement (“Tarifvertrag”) may as well have some rules that apply to your case.
The collective agreement is usually the large pile of paper that you are given in addition to your own employment contract and never really had time to go through 😊.
If you have agreed in your employment contract to a notice period of, for example, three months, then this applies. In any case, check the collective agreement. In case of doubt, the most advantageous option for you as an employee will apply.
#3 Prepare the resignation letter
Your termination MUST be in writing for it to be valid.
You can write it “formlos”, which means you can choose the layout and format you want. Either you take a print or a handwritten one. An email is not allowed or not valid.
Your termination letter MUST include the following items:
Your name and address MUST be included (in a large company you may have a personnel number, or a branch that you better specify)
You MUST include the date of the day you hand over the termination letter to your supervisor/ employer (in the example above it would be 6 June).
You MUST indicate the date on which you wish to terminate. For example: I hereby give my termination at the earliest possible date (read down below why this is a better phrase than stating a certain date)
Sign by hand
Write objectively and neutrally. It’s ok to make this letter really short. In the official termination, you are not required to give a reason.
Later, in your meeting one-one-one with your supervisor, you may give explanations. Depending on your relationship with your supervisor, you may tell her or him why you want to leave. Don’t forget to thank her or him for the time, the growth opportunities, etc., etc. . It’s always nice to show appreciation and that your care …well, at least, as best as you can 😅.
Adding requests to HR in your letter
It’s smart, to clarify further important points within your termination letter.
By doing so, you signal that you’re familiar with the rules of Arbeitsrecht and that you very well know what you want and how things should go. It’s a clear signal for the HR department not to even think of screwing around with you.
However, these add-ons are not essential. Your termination is valid without them. You can always ask HR all you need to fully understand or want to clarify.
#1 Request a work reference
#2 Confirmation of receipt
Within the termination letter, you ask HR or supervisor to write an official confirmation of your resignation. This is to make sure, that your termination is being processed in the HR department.
#3 Request verification on your last day of work
By doing so, they also confirm when officially your last working day is. In this way, you can avoid the possibility of misunderstandings somewhere in the process of counting your last days of vacation, overtime accounts etc. and ensure clarity on your side (and your supervisor).
#4 Make two prints of your termination letter and sign both
The most elegant way to submit your resignation is with your direct supervisor. Ask her/him beforehand if she/he has a moment for you.
For this meeting, you need to print out your termination letter TWICE and sign both.
#5 Tell the supervisor you quit + hand over your termination letter
It’s only fair to inform your direct supervisor first. Even though in your company it might be HR department’s responsibility to handle your termination.
This is what I feel is just fair and polite. After all, the two of you have experienced a lot together, lots of good times and some shit, probably. Just like everybody else 🙂
Show your appreciation for your supervisor
You do want to part on good terms, say thanks for the time and opportunities they’ve offered. Even if you have justified reasons and are ultimately just happy to leave the company, it’s all-important to remain appreciative, friendly, and calm. As a reason, you can always tell what you wish for your future and that personal change is important for you. Which company you will change to is not an issue here, I wouldn’t tell either boss or colleagues at this point.
Oh dear, such a conversation is unpleasant!
It’s emotional stress, for most of us. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself awake in the middle of the night figuring out what words to use in that meeting.
Definitely, you can be sure that your boss will not be happy about your termination. Simply because there’s real work to be done. She/he has to think about if a replacement for you is found, how to organize the training period, and what you need to document or finish in your last working weeks.
Pass the resignation letter
Once you’ve said you quit and the first shock is over, you’ll pass the two letters of termination to your supervisor.
The first printout is the official version for your supervisor / the employer.
For the second printout, you ask her/him to sign it here and now, along with the current date. This is your proof, that you’ve officially handed over the termination letter. This version is for you and your own documentation.
You may wonder why you need to have „proof“?
Well, shit happens. Sometimes. It’s simply better to be prepared. For example, your supervisor may be a little confused. But who cares, because we all know that such a letter can get lost, misplaced, or forgotten without intention.
Your supervisor will then forward your termination to the Human Resources Department, and after a few days, you will receive the official written confirmation of your termination on your desk. This is exactly how I did my termination and it went well, though I don’t offer legal consultations because I’m not a lawyer.
Be nice and show your appreciation to your supervisor
Actually, the icing on the cake is to conduct a termination in such a way that you’re welcome to visit your former supervisor and colleagues later on. That they recommend you and that you are on good terms with them.
You’re not sure yet if you should quit?
You haven’t made up your mind if you really want to transition to a new job? What you could do, is investigate what your individual job market looks like.
Taking action means, checking the job portals for an exciting new role.
In case you find a job you fall in love with, you apply and see what happens.
These resources might be of interest to you:
For your information: Suspension of unemployment benefits
Please be aware of the following rule:
Whenever you lose your job or quit your job, you have to report to the employment agency and register as „unemployed“.
Only on this basis, the Agentur für Arbeit is allowed to transfer the so-called „Arbeitslosengeld“ (unemployment benefits). But in case you quit the job, you are banned to receive transfers for three months.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment.
All the success!