Notice periods – how to properly terminate without an employment contract


According to the Evidence Act, every employer is obliged to provide an employee with a written employment contract. This employment contract describes all the rights and obligations of the employee and the employer. Even if your employer has not given you a written employment contract, there is still an effective employment relationship.

The notice periods result from the law

  • The written form is not a prerequisite for the conclusion of an effective employment contract. Your rights also exist without a written employment contract. As soon as you work for the employer with the knowledge and will of the employer, you act on the basis of an employment relationship.
  • If you want to dissolve it, you have to give proper notice. You can read about the notice periods in Section 622 of the German Civil Code.
  • You can then terminate your employment with four weeks’ notice to the 15th of a month or to the end of a calendar month.
  • For example, if you want to terminate your employment relationship on Tuesday, January 31, 2012, you have to calculate the time of termination four weeks back.
  • Note that four weeks is not the same as one month. The number of days of the week is different.
  • In this example, you must send the notice of termination to the employer by Monday, January 2, 2012 at the latest. The time of receipt should be before the end of the working day so that the employer can still take note of the termination.
  • Since the preceding days are Saturday, Sunday and Monday, you should not necessarily make full use of the period and, to be on the safe side, hand over the notice of termination the week before or post it in good time so that you can count on safe access. Late and therefore time-limited access is at your expense. You have to take into account delays in postal delivery. It is therefore by no means sufficient that you simply send your notice of termination within the notice period.
  • Alternatively, if you want to terminate your employment relationship as of January 15, 2012, you must give notice of termination four weeks in advance, i.e. by Monday December 19, 2011 at the latest.
  • Again, in this example, note that January 15, 2012 falls on a Sunday. As a result, the period of notice is shifted in your favor to Monday, January 16, and you must have handed over the notice of termination no later than four weeks beforehand, i.e. by December 19, 2011.
  • Incidentally, it is always the case that an appointment is postponed to the next working day if it falls on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday.
  • If you want to be absolutely sure that your employer receives the notice of termination, you should hand it in personally.
  • The law only provides for longer notice periods for employers. The notice period specified in the law always applies to you.

Without an employment contract, counter-evidence is hardly possible

  • Your employer can also agree longer periods of notice with you that deviate from the law. In order to prove this if necessary, he is usually dependent on a written employment contract. Without an employment contract, he will hardly be able to prove any other agreement. If this is not the case, the legal regulation in § 622 BGB applies.
  • Notice periods that are shorter than the periods specified above are only permitted in exceptional cases.
  • During your probationary period, you can also terminate your employment relationship with a notice period of just two weeks in accordance with § 622 III BGB. You don’t have to consider the middle of the month or the end of the month.

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