In 2020, after working for my employer for almost 2,5 years I decided to resign from my software developer job. I had limited knowledge on how to resign in Germany - I quit my job in India but in Germany, the process is different and complicated. This was a bit before I converted my Blue Card to Permanent Residence. Below is my guide on how I resigned from my job and the things I learned from it.
Steps to take before leaving a job
- Check how long your notice period is. This is mentioned on your work contract.
- Write your resignation letter, sign it and scan a copy of it for your reference
- Inform your employer, hand in or send the resignation letter
- Check how many holidays you have left, use it and work until the notice period is over.
- Receive a reference letter from your employer
- Request an holiday certificate (Urlaubsbescheinigung)
- Apply for unemployment benefits if applicable
If you are resigning your job to change jobs or take a break between jobs, make sure to file for a tax refund later.
Steps to terminate an employment contract in Germany
Notice period in Germany for Employees
If you're in your probationary period (Probezeit) which is usually within your first six months of employment, your notice period is likely to be 2 weeks. Once you are out of your probationary period, the standard notice period is 1 month. Both of these periods are to the 15th or end of the calendar month.
Note: 4 weeks means 28 calendar days, not 30.
This can vary based on your employment contract (Arbeitsvertrag) - and if the contract is Permanent (Unbefristete) or Temporary (Befristet).
|Length of Employment||Length of Notice Period|
|Probation Period (upto 6 months)||2 weeks to 15th or end of calendar month|
|More than 6 months||4 weeks to 15th or end of calendar month|
According to the German Civil Code (BGB) § 622 BGB, it is possible to have a notice period of 3 months if you have agreed it with your employer in your employment contract (thanks to deepl for the translation)
(1) The employment relationship of a worker or a salaried employee (employee) may be terminated with four weeks' notice to the fifteenth or to the end of a calendar month.
(3) During an agreed probationary period, for a maximum of six months, the employment relationship may be terminated with two weeks' notice.
(4) Regulations deviating from paragraphs 1 to 3 may be agreed by collective agreement. Within the scope of such a collective agreement, the deviating provisions of the collective agreement shall apply between employers and employees not bound by the collective agreement if their application is agreed between them.
(5) A shorter notice period than that specified in paragraph 1 may be agreed in individual contracts only,
1) if an employee is employed on a temporary basis; this shall not apply if the employment relationship is continued beyond a period of three months
2) if the employer does not normally employ more than 20 workers, excluding those employed for vocational training, and the period of notice is not less than four weeks.
Even if your notice period is long, you can usually negotiate it down by talking to your boss or Human Resources. No one wants a unhappy employee to be source of bringing down morale.
If you were fired from your job, the notice period for employer is different.
What does End of the Calendar Month mean?
If you would like April 15th to be your last working day, March 18th is the latest day where the employer should have received your resignation letter. If they receive the letter by March 19th, then your last working day can be pushed to end of April.
Can I reduce my notice period time?
Not in general cases, but there is a clause in German Civil Code that allows this - § 626 BGB - Fristlose Kündigung aus wichtigem Grund under "important reasons" -
(1) The employment relationship may be terminated by either party for good cause without notice if there are facts on the basis of which the terminating party, taking into account all circumstances of the individual case and weighing the interests of both parties, cannot reasonably be expected to continue the employment relationship until the expiry of the notice period or until the agreed termination of the employment relationship.
(2) Notice of termination may only be given within two weeks. The period shall begin at the time when the party entitled to give notice becomes aware of the facts relevant to the notice of termination. The party giving notice of termination must inform the other party of the reason for termination in writing without delay upon request.
Write a Resignation Letter
It is required by law that the resignation letter is in written form. So if you inform your boss or HR verbally or through email, it is not legally sufficient! What's surprising is that even fax is not sufficient. Yes, I'm fully aware we're in the 21th century.
In addition to that, make sure that there is sufficient time for your employer to receive the letter. Your notice period only counts once your employer has received the termination letter.
Requirements of a Resignation Letter
You will need to include the following details on your letter
- Your full name and address
- Your employer's information including name and address
- Date in which wrote the letter
- Date which you wish to be your last working day
What you should not mention
- A reason: Anything like if you're feeling guilty about leaving your team, or your manager, no reason to mention it
- About your next job or future plans
- Feedback about your team, company or colleagues
Should the Resignation Letter be in English or in German?
It can be in English provided that is the working or business language at your work place. If you are unsure, writing it in German is the best way.
Sample Resignation Letter in English
by registered mail
City, Date dd.mm.yyyy
Subject: Termination of my employment contract
Dear Sir or Madam,
I hereby terminate my employment contract with you with effect from xx.xx.xxxx (date), observing the period of notice stipulated in the collective agreement/legislation/contract (remove as appropriate).
Please send my employment papers as well as a qualified reference (Arbeitszeugnis) to the above address by the termination date at the latest.
I thank you for the pleasant cooperation and wish you and the company continued success.
Sample Resignation Letter in German
by registered mail
City, Date dd.mm.yyyy
Betreff: Kündigung des Arbeitsverhältnisses
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,
Hiermit kündige ich meinen Arbeitsvertrag mit Ihnen mit Wirkung vom xx.xx.xxxx (Datum) unter Einhaltung der im Vertrag festgelegten Kündigungsfrist.
Bitte senden Sie meine Bewerbungsunterlagen sowie ein qualifiziertes Arbeitszeugnis bis spätestens zum Kündigungstermin an die oben genannte Adresse.
Ich danke Ihnen für die angenehme Zusammenarbeit und wünsche Ihnen und dem Unternehmen weiterhin viel Erfolg.
Mit freundlichen Grüßen,
What is an Arbeitszeugnis?
Arbeitszeugnis is a reference letter / employment certificate that every employer must issue to the employee in writing upon termination of the employment relationship. There are no two ways around it, they have to provide you one. This letter might be asked for verification during your next job interview process, so make sure you get yours in time.
What is an Urlaubsbescheinigung?
Urlaubsbescheinigung is a letter that mentions how many holidays you have used this year. If you are joining a new employer, they might request for this. This is quite rare and instead, your new employer is more likely to prorate the number of holidays.
Send your Resignation Letter by Post
You can either hand in your resignation letter in person to your boss or Human Resources or drop it in their mailbox and it should be good. However, if you would like to be certain that it has been received, you should consider sending the letter by post.
Registered mail with proof of receipt (Einschreiben mit Rückschein) ensures that the letter has been delivered and an acknowledgement of receiving it is provided to you. This usually takes a day or two to be delivered (working days), so factor this in with your last working day.
Note: Even if you send a letter on Monday, if the recipient receives it on Thursday, the resignation is only valid from Thursday.
Send Resignation by email (with sample)
Email is not sufficient as an official means to resign in Germany. But you can send an email in addition to sending a letter by post, to your human resource team. You should attach a scanned copy of your resignation letter.
This is what I did as well.
Sample resignation email in English
I would like to inform you that I have resigned from my position. I would like my last working day to be dd.mm.yyyy. Please find attached a copy of the signed resignation letter that I sent today.
Sample resignation email in German
Ich möchte Ihnen mitteilen, dass ich meinen Arbeitsvertrag gekündigt habe. Ich möchte, dass mein letzter Arbeitstag der tt.mm.jjjj ist. Anbei finden Sie eine Kopie des unterzeichneten Rücktrittsschreibens, das ich heute per Post verschickt habe.
Mit freundlichen Grüßen,
Receive a confirmation of Resignation
Confirmation of Resignation (Kündigung Empfangsbestätigung) is not mandatory but almost all employers do it out of courtesy. In case of a dispute later, or for your records, this letter provides proof of from when the termination is active.
Your resignation is valid as soon as your employer receives the resignation letter. However, you should request the confirmation still.
Legal insurance can help you out in case your employer causes an issue with you over your resignation, or provides a bad reference letter.
When I quit my job and had a break before my next job, I requested them to cover my health insurance and long term care insurance. They wanted to know why I left my job and then confirmed that they will cover the costs.
To ensure everything goes well with the Employment Agency, once you are aware of your last working day, you must inform the Employment Agency within three days. You can either do this online or by calling them.
In case you miss your deadline, they can withhold your unemployment benefits from 1 week till 3 months, known as the Blocking Time (Sperrzeit). When you apply for ALG I, they will require a proof of resignation (a copy of your resignation letter) and a Confirmation of Resignation (Kündigung Empfangsbestätigung) from your employer should do the trick.
In addition, if you're going to have a break between jobs, you should also let your Health Insurance (Krankenversicherung) know so that they can adjust the amount you have to pay and to let them know that you have applied for Unemployment Benefits so they can send the bill to the Employment Agency.
If you resign from a job and you don't inform your health insurance, you will have to pay the entire amount (around 785€ per month). In case this happens, you can always talk to them, submit proof of resignation and they will adjust the bill. Voluntary health insurance (when you don't have a job & income) costs around 200€ a month.
Serving your notice period
Until the last working day, you should ideally serve your notice period. If you have unused vacation days, you can either request to use them or receive compensation for them from your employer.
Vacation Days Prorated
If you're leaving before the end of the year, the number of vacation days will be prorated. If you have 30 holidays for a year, then it gets prorated – 30 / 12 = 2,5 holidays per month.
If you have worked 3 months in this job for the year, you receive 3 * 2,5 = 7,5 holidays.
Vacation Days - Full Entitlement
If you give your notice on July 1st or later, you receive full minimum leave (all your vacation days days are available). In this case too, however, the rule applies that the employee must have worked for the company for 6 months. If this was not the case, the prorated vacation days applies instead.
Blue Card Validity on Job Resignation
If you hold a Blue Card at the time of resignation and without a new work contract, it is only valid for 3 months from the end of contract. If you don't have a new job yet, inform the Foreigners Office (Ausländerbehörde).
Changing Jobs on Blue Card
We wrote a full guide on the implications on how to change jobs with an EU Blue Card in Germany.
What's next after resigning from a job?
If you don't have a new job yet, brush up your resume and head over to Jobs in Germany to find your next job.
If you have already found one, enjoy your well deserved break!
This article is only a guide and in case of any questions, please refer to the official source for the employment agency linked in the guide.