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Time required and rules for employees and employers to present a notice of dismissal in Germany.

According to the current regulations, there are several rules concerning the notice period required for proper termination of employment in a German company or organisation.

Notice period required by law
The minimum time frame required by German law is no less than four weeks and must necessarily be noted by the end of the month or at the middle of it. The same goes for the case of termination by the employer. In order to correctly present the notice of dismissal it is therefore required to comply with the deadlines and to submit a properly filled formal request. This obligation is regulated by section 622, paragraph 1 of the German Civil Code (BGB). Usually the norms and rules regarding this aspect are to be found in your contract or they can be consulted directly from the German Civil Code.

Notice period of less than four weeks
Only in extraordinary cases, the notice period may be less than four weeks. This is usually allowed when doing a probationary period, no longer than six months, or for temporary/seasonal contracts shorter than three months. In these cases it is accepted just a two weeks notice for dismissal; the possibility must have been previously specified in the contract. This option is regulated in section 622(3) of the BGB.

There is also the case of ‘dismissal without notice’ which, unlike ordinary dismissal, does not provide for any prior notice and must be justified on the base of a serious issue such as a theft committed by an employee, an insult in the workplace or a violation of company rules and is therefore dismissed by the employer with immediate effect. Employees may also resign without notice if they have suffered some kind of harassment at work or if their salary is delayed, without proper motivation, for a considerable amount of time. This is ruled by section 626 paragraph 1 of the BGB and, in both cases, dismissal must take place within fourteen days of the event and cannot therefore refer to actions or misconduct that occurred prior to this time period.

Extension of notice
The notice period may be extended if the employee has worked for the company for a long period of time. The exact specifications for this possibility are laid down in the employment contract or in a collective agreement. If there is a collective agreement for the area of work, in addition to the employment contract, it applies to the notice period only if it contains better provisions for the emplyee than the ones in the employment contract.