I have gone through probation period twice in Germany so far. I will try to explain what probation period is, how it works, holidays during probation and the common misconceptions.
What is the probation period (Probezeit)?
When you start a new job, you enter a probation period. It is similar to a trial period, except you receive your salary & compensation during probation period. You can call it a paid trial period. You and your employer use this period to evaluate performance, if you are both a good fit for each other.
How long is the standard probation period?
Standard probation period for employment is up to 6 months and varies from company to company. This is for a permanent or a fixed (temporary) work contract.
For vocational training (instructional programs or courses), it is a minimum of 1 month and a maximum of 3 months.
What is the notice period during probation?
You or your employer must provide a 2 week notice for termination from your job. There is no requirement for a cause or reason to terminate the contract.
Once you have completed your probation period, it gets a lot more difficult for your employer to fire you for performance. If your employee has ten or less employees, they can fire you relatively easier, even outside of a probation period.
Notice periods is shorter than the probation period. For example, in a fixed contract of 2 weeks, your notice period must be less than 2 weeks.
What happens at the end of a probation?
Your manager or someone from your Human Resources team will let you know that you have successfully (or not) completed your probation. There is no documentation to do to signify the end of a probation.
Can I take holidays during probation?
Yes, you are allowed to. 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 probation, you receive 3 * 2,5 = 7,5 holidays.
Your employer can prevent you from taking holidays during probation, if it stated in your work contract.
What happens to unused holidays?
If you have unused vacation days / holidays when your work contract is terminated, your employer has to pay you for the days. Your employer can suggest you to take your holidays before the end of the work contract.
Can I take sick days off during probation?
Yes, you can take days off for sickness. Sick days do not extend your probation period. Originally if your contract was supposed to end on May 30, and you are off sick for 5 days, your contract will still end on May 30.
If you are sick for a longer period, you are entitled to Krankengeld.
Can I be fired for taking sick days?
Your employer does not need provide a reason for termination, so they can fire you and you will not know the reason for termination. This can happen for extended sick leave (several weeks off).
How to resign during your probation?
Resignation works the same way as from a normal job. You can read the guide here. The difference is usually in the notice period, as it's only 2 weeks in probation, compared to 1, 3, or 6 months during employment.
If you are on a blue card, read about resigning from a job affects you.
If I switch to a different team in the same company, will I have another probation period?
This is possible, but extremely uncommon. This is up to your employer. If it requires no new contract, you are unlikely to go through probation again.
Do I get a salary raise after probation?
Unless this is written on your contract when you signed it, you do not get a salary raise.
You can understand how much salary you will make after taxes using our salary calculator, available in German as well.
What to do when you are fired
If you are fired from your job, or let go during probation, you should take note of several things.
If you feel you were wrongly terminated, you can make use of legal insurance. It is difficult to claim this during your probation.
Receive letter of termination
Your employer must provide a letter of termination (Kündigung) in writing (Letter / fax). An email or verbal communication is not sufficient. The same applies if you resign too.
Contact Ausländerbehörde about your work permit
If you are on a work visa in Germany, you must inform Ausländerbehörde and check how long you can stay in the country to look for a new job. Usually they provide a 3 month period for you to do this.
Start looking for a new job
Update your CV, Resume with your latest details and start looking for a new job using job boards. Once you find a new job, inform your Ausländerbehörde and get an appointment to extend your work permit (if you are on a work visa). See how to find appointments at berlin.
Claiming unemployment benefits
If you have fulfill the conditions for unemployment benefits, you can claim them if you have been fired from your job. Do it as soon as you are aware that you have lost your job.
Inform your health insurance
Let your health insurance know when you will be unemployed from. They will adjust your payment schedule and let you know what it will cost you.