I am an international masters student in Germany. I started working in a company in August last year as a work student, but after 3 weeks of joining the company I went back to my home country as it was my semester break. This is something I had already communicated in the interview. I kept on working after coming back at the start of October until the end of December when I resigned because I found a better company which had better work company and their project was much more appealing. My previous company had 15 employees but my new company has 2000+ employees at least.

What I did wrong is that I lied to my ex-employer that I am leaving because I cannot manage my studies but still I finished my notice period of one month. Now it's been more than 3.5 months and I've been asking him to give me a letter stating that I worked in his company for those months. He keeps on saying that he would do that when he has time. He also somehow found out about my job and he sent me an email stating that he was furious with what I did. I lied only because I knew he would persuade me to stay and it's difficult for me to say no to people. What should I do now?

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    Did you have a contract stating that you were an employee? In that case according to §109 Gewerbeordnung they have to provide you with an Arbeitszeugnis, i.e., a certificate of employment. You have the right to demand that it contains something about your conduct and performance, but you can also ask for the bare minimum, i.e., what you did for them over which time period.
    – user29390
    Mar 14, 2019 at 11:53
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    @Roland That's an excellent answer
    – Summer
    Mar 15, 2019 at 13:23

1 Answer 1


First of all, you should apologise to your previous employer. While you didn't have to divulge why you were leaving, you lied to them. Don't attempt to justify why you lied.

It would be far better to take a softer approach. You should write up the experience letter yourself, and email it to him for him to sign. You want to make this as easy as possible for him.

If you need it to complete your education, determine what exact details they need and ensure you include the absolute bare minimum.

If the employment happened in Germany, you need to ask for a Arbeitszeugnis. Knowing the word for it may spur him into action.

Unless you need it right now, there is no need to press them. If it does become quite a pressing issue, you can remind them it's a legal requirement, though I would only go down this path if all else fails.

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    I disagree. Apologize for what? Companies lie constantly, for example about why they rejected a candidate. Giving a reason for leaving is a courtesy, not something mandatory, mind you. Was it ethical to lie? Questionable. Should he apologize? No way.
    – user100470
    Mar 14, 2019 at 9:32
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    Writing up an Arbeitszeugnis is really not to be recommended. There are a lot of legal restrictions on what an employer can say. A normal reading of even the most damning of Arbeitszeugnis will look rather positive; you have to know the code (and see what has been left out) to understand it. (I suspect this is what is causing the delay - the employer has no experience of writing a critical Arbeitzeugnis, and doesn't want to be sued.) Mar 14, 2019 at 9:34
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    @Atizs Well, ethically, I would say not. It's not mandatory at all, as I said, but that doesn't excuse a lie. Having said that, we have to be practical here. The employer is clearly offended. You can apologise and hope that would appease them, or just hope they get over it. Mar 14, 2019 at 9:44
  • @MartinBonner My limited understanding in this area is showing. In Australia we have what's called a "Proof of Employment". It's a very simple document which just lists dates of employment and duties. It is quite different from a "reference" which is optional. I think there is a basic form of Arbeitzeugnis which may be suitable here? Mar 14, 2019 at 9:46
  • I agree I should't have lied but I was confused and I'm pretty sure he would have insisted that i shouldn't leave if I would've told him the truth. All I ask him is the certificate of employment. I had a very good working relation with him before this. I still think he should've not acted like this because this happens all the time. People lie. I just wanted to avoid that discussion of him trying to convince me to not leave and yes this is in Germany. I've been sending him emails but now he's not even replying. Mar 14, 2019 at 10:05

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