Probation or trial period is an essential element in most jobs in Germany. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn about your future position and the employer. However, according to the statistics, 25% of workers end their employment during probation. Unfortunately, getting fired or resigning from a job during the probation period isn’t an uncommon event for employees in Germany.
Generally, employers have all rights to terminate employment during the probationary period within two weeks of notice without giving reasons. The notice period within the probationary period is two weeks and applies only to undefined employment contracts. Overall, the probationary period may last a maximum of six months.
So you have been fired during the trial period in Germany? What should you do in case of dismissal in the probation period? Or are you planning to quit the job yourself? This article explains what you need to know about the termination of an employment contract during probation in Germany.
Can you get fired during probation in Germany?
The probation period in Germany is usually up to 6 months; during this time, both, employers and employees can terminate a work agreement.
Employer and employee may terminate the employment relationship within two weeks of the notice unless something else is agreed upon in your contract. However, it’s up to the employer to set other rules regarding the notice period and probation period. It must be stated in the work contract.
Furthermore, the termination during the probationary period does not have to be justified, so the employer can fire you for no reason.
The reason for this is that employees in Germany aren’t protected during the probationary period. If you were fired during regular employment, that won’t happen.
According to German statistics, up to 25% of all employment relationships end during the probationary period.
1. You can get fired for no reason
Workers in the probation period can get dismissal without reason. Since employees on the trial period aren’t protected by the employment laws that would prohibit it.
However, your employer must obtain the consent of the works council (if there is any) before they proceed with the termination. In most cases, the final decision regarding termination during the probationary period lies with the employer.
2. Notice period must be observed
The German labor law says that the notice period for a probation time which is no longer than 6 months is two weeks. This notice period applies regardless of the length of the trial period. The notice period starts from the date when you or the employer terminates the contract.
3. You aren’t protected during the probation period
During the probationary period, the labor law doesn’t apply to the full extent, so you aren’t covered against dismissal. Full protection comes into effect only after six months of employment.
Hence, even if your trial period is only 3 months, you can get fired during another 3 months with no reason, provided that the company employs at least 10 full-time employees (excluding trainees).
Consequently, protection against dismissal only takes effect once you have been employed in a particular company for six months.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that stated above notice period of 2 weeks applies only if your job contract is unlimited (undefined). If there is an end date on it, no particular dates apply and you can be terminated within a matter of days.
The employment relationship will end exactly two weeks after the day of termination and not at the end or in the middle of the month (like with regular contracts).
That said, German employment law permits a shorter or longer notice period for termination during the probationary period. However, this must be explicitly stated in the employment contract.
There are some clauses, where termination without notice or any termination isn’t permissible; these cases, among others, are:
- Pregnant women are protected against dismissal under the Maternity Protection Act.
- Severely disabled persons have special rights against dismissal.
- Works council members
- Parents on parental leave
What to do if you get fired during the probation period?
If you are surprised by the termination during the probationary period, you should react correctly and professionally:
1. Check if termination is reasonable
Although you can not do anything against dismissal during probation, it’s good to check whether the termination is formally correct. If you spot any mistakes, you can make a claim against it within three weeks, hence, prolonging your employment by that time.
2. Remain professional
Keeping your professionalism is the most important thing when you get terminated. Don’t react. In the end, your employer can write you a bad reference which will worsen your job opportunities in the future. Simply continue to do your job for the remaining time.
3. Register as unemployed and apply for unemployment benefits
After you have lost your job, you should immediately register as a job seeker (unemployed) in Germany. If you are qualified, you can also apply for unemployment benefits. To receive financial help from the state as unemployed, you must have been employed for at least twelve months in the last 2 years.
Taking any legal action against dismissal during the probationary period doesn’t make much sense since you were in the trial period where no protection applies.
Quitting a job during the probation period in Germany
Both parties – employer and employee can terminate the employment contract at any time during the probationary period and without providing reasons. To quit your job in Germany, you need to observe a 2-week notice or whether is stated in the contract.
You must write a simple resignation letter. Read more on this here. Luckily, you can give notice at any time of the month during the trial period, and not only at the beginning or at the 15th of the month (for regular employment).
Consequently, the employment relationship ends exactly two weeks after submitting a resignation letter. A shorter notice period is also possible if you have a different agreement between you and the company or if your employment contract is temporary.
Termination without a notice
Both employee and employer can terminate the work agreement without notice if there are reasons for it. It also applies to the probation period. However, extraordinary termination requires an “important reason” for both parties, which must always be stated.
Furthermore, employees usually receive a warning first, before they get fired with no notice. Also, if an employee wants to end the working relationship, they must give their employer a warning first. For example, some reasons to quit your job without notice might include the following:
- Not payment of the salary despite reminder
- Lack of work safety
- Serious breach of employment contract
On the other hand, a company can dismiss the worker without notice in these citations:
- Damage to reputation/insult
- Industrial spying
- Sexual harassment
The employer must issue at least one or two warnings before they write a termination. Plus, there must be evidence of the violation.
If it happens to you and you get fired with no notice, you must leave the job on the same day.
Ask for a job reference
As soon as the employment relationship ends, even if it’s a probation period, you have a legal right to receive a reference from the employer. Therefore, always ask for a reference (Arbeitszeugnis) when you leave a job. You will need this certificate for future job applications to prove your past employment and gained experience.
There are several types of references:
- A simple reference (if you were employed for 4 weeks or less)
- Qualified reference (if you have worked more than 4 weeks)