Employment Termination in Germany: a Guide for Employers

There are a lot of preparations to be made when employing in Germany. However, it is equally (if not more) important to follow proper procedure when terminating an employee. Even though a working relationship is based on a private contract, German Civil Code is equipped to protect the employee. And you should expect serious consequences for breaking the law.

Notice period

The notice period in Germany required to terminate one’s employment is normally stated in the job contract. Nonetheless, German employment law implies minimum notice periods calculated in accordance with the length of service. This notice period applies to both, employees and employers.

Employed for 2 years

If the length of the service provided by your staff is two or less years, then the minimum notice period is 4 weeks.

Employed for 5 years

Providing one has worked for you for five or more years, they are entitled to the minimum notice of 8 weeks.

Employed for 8 years

Those who have served you between 8 and 10 years should expect to receive minimum 3 months’ notice. 

How does probational period affect termination of employment?

Dismissing a worker on a probational period also requires a notice. 2 weeks will be sufficient when somebody has worked for you under 6 months.

Employment termination requirements in Germany

According to the German Civil Code, the termination of employment must be expressed in writing in order to be valid. The dismissal is ineffective if it is announced verbally, by text or email. The statutory written form requirement cannot be waived by employment agreement, collective bargaining agreement or work contract.

Protection against dismissal

Unfortunately, in a business with up to ten employees there is no dismissal protection. On the other hand, you need to “socially justify” the termination of employees that have been employed for more than 6months in a company with more than 10 members of staff.

The three social justifiable reasons are:

·      The individual (e.g.: employee illness)

·      Misconduct (e.g.: an employee commits theft)

·      Business needs (e.g.: constantly underperforming)


It is extremely important to comply with local legislation, no matter where you are. As well as knowing your rights in a foreign country. Whether you are a company or a contractor going on a project abroad, reach out  for you free consultation now! Our compliance experts will make sure you make the most out of your experience.