Career Advancement

How to Handle Layoffs Like a Pro: Strategies for Employees in Germany

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There are different reasons for a layoff, but most of the time it is either due to operational, behavioral or personal reasons.

The German labor law excludes a layoff without a reason, therefore the employer is legally obligated to provide an explanation of the reasons for the layoff and to explain why the employment relationship was terminated.

We want to present the most common reasons and explain which notice periods must be observed. In addition, we want to take a look at the reasons for termination on the part of employees and give tips on how employers can best counteract this.

Possible Reasons for Termination

Possible Reasons for Termination

When an employment relationship is terminated, there are different types of termination that the employer can give as a reason. Those are subdivided into:

  • Personal reasons
  • Behavior-related
  • Operational

Personal reasons for termination exist, for example, if the employee is absent for a long period of time due to illness or has decreased work performance by at least 30%.

Behavior-related reasons include unpunctuality, unexcused absences or refusal to work.

Operational reasons include a severe decline in sales, shutdown of operations, or bankruptcy.

Is It Allowed to Issue a Notice of Termination Without a Reason?

If an employment relationship is terminated, the protection against dismissal prevents termination of the employment relationship without good cause. However, certain conditions must be met for the protection against unfair dismissal to be effective.

Exempt from protection against dismissal are employees who are still in the six-month waiting period. The waiting period is not the same as the probationary period, as this may be shorter under certain circumstances.

Furthermore, businesses that have less than ten employees on a permanent basis are exempt from protection against dismissal. This includes all full-time employees, and part-time employees are calculated on a pro rata basis. If the company has no more than ten employees, no reason needs to be given for the layoff in due time.

Reasons for Extraordinary Termination

Reasons for Extraordinary Termination

In contrast to terminations with notice, there is also the termination without notice variant, i.e. an extraordinary termination.

This occurs when employees, for example, commit theft or perform competitive activities in their free time that have a significant impact on the success of the company.

Also alcohol abuse and private internet use while at work are frequently cited as reasons.

Reasons for Termination during the Probationary Period

Reasons for Termination during the Probationary Period

The probationary period is determined by the employer at the beginning of the employment relationship and, according to the Civil Code, may last a maximum of six months.

The probationary period is used to determine whether candidates are suitable for the position and whether they fit into the company culture.

Both employers and employees can terminate employment during this period without having to give a reason.

Common Reasons for Termination when Terminated by Employer

Common Reasons for Termination when Terminated by Employer

As mentioned above, there are three different types of notice that an employer may give when terminating an employment relationship for ordinary reasons. Among the frequently attached reasons are:

1. Operational Reasons for Termination:

  • Insolvency
  • Liquidation of the company
  • Restructuring
  • Lack of financing
  • Replacement of workforce by modern technology

2. Personal Reasons for Termination:

  • Failure of the employee to obtain a work permit
  • Inadequate language skills
  • Frequent absences from work due to illness
  • Deficient work performance

3. Behavioral Reasons for Termination

  • Unexcused absences
  • Refusal to work
  • Job discrimination of employees
  • Violation of company rules

Notice Periods

Notice Periods

Notice periods are established by law and only in rare cases is an extended notice period requested by the employer.

During the trial period, a notice period of 14 days applies and it starts after the employee receives the termination letter.

Should the notice be given outside the probationary period, staggered notice periods result:

  • First 2 years after the probationary period: 4 weeks
  • 2+ years: 1 month to the end of the calendar month
  • 5+ years: 2 months to the end of the calendar month
  • 8+ years: 3 months to the end of the calendar month
  • 10+ years: 4 months to the end of the calendar month
  • 12+ years: 5 months to the end of the calendar month
  • 15+ years: 6 months to the end of the calendar month
  • 20+ years: 7 months to the end of the calendar month

Notice Periods in Case of an Indefinite Employment Contract

If the employer wishes to terminate an employment contract of indefinite duration, the following periods of notice apply:

  • 1 – 4 years: 1 month to the end of the calendar month
  • 5 – 7 years: 2 months to the end of the calendar month
  • 8 – 9 years: 3 months to the end of the calendar month
  • 10 – 11 years: 4 months to the end of the calendar month
  • 12 – 14 years: 5 months to the end of the calendar month
  • 15 – 19 years: 6 months to the end of the calendar month
  • 20+ years: 7 months to the end of the calendar month

Reasons for Resignation

Reasons for Resignation

The employment relationship can, of course, also be terminated by the employee. Again, a term of four weeks applies. Common reasons given include:

  • Unpleasant working atmosphere
  • No opportunities for advancement
  • Unpaid overtime
  • Inadequate salary
  • Lack of appreciation by the employer
  • Not enough exciting tasks

There are also extraordinary reasons for terminations that originate with the employee. Recognized reasons for termination without notice include failure to provide childcare for full-time employees, bullying by co-workers or supervisors, and serious illness of a family member and related care.

Dealing with a Layoff: Tips and Strategies

Dealing with a Layoff: Tips and Strategies

Dealing with a layoff can be a challenging and emotional experience. However, there are steps you can take to navigate the situation and move forward. First and foremost, it's important to give yourself time to process your emotions and seek support from friends and family.

Next, focus on creating a plan for your future career goals and updating your resume and online presence. Consider reaching out to your professional network for job opportunities and attending career fairs or networking events.

It's also crucial to consider your finances and explore options like unemployment benefits and healthcare coverage. You may also want to seek guidance from a financial advisor or explore ways to cut expenses.

While it's natural to feel a sense of loss and disappointment after a layoff, it's important to stay positive and motivated. Consider learning new skills or pursuing further education to enhance your qualifications and increase your chances of finding a new job.

As mentioned in the post on our Instagram page – Remember that being laid off does not define your worth or abilities. With the right mindset and resources, you can bounce back stronger than ever.

There are quite a few reasons for termination, both on the part of the employer and the employee. After the six-month waiting period, the employer is legally required to provide a valid reason for dismissal.

A distinction is made between ordinary and extraordinary reasons for layoff, and there are, for the protection of employees, legally established deadlines that must be met. In order to avoid dismissal on the part of employees, you should ensure job satisfaction.

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