50
  • My fiancée is pregnant.
  • She lives 1500 km away from me, in another country, in a low-developed region where public transport is slow.
  • I did not talk with her for 3 days. It was my mistake. She became shocked and now she wants to abort the child.
  • I am currently on a train, traveling to her.
  • Tomorrow morning I am supposed to go to work, as usual. I won't be able to. (It is now Sunday evening where I work.)
  • I am almost certain I will be unable to work on both Monday and Tuesday.

I work for a small company in Germany. I've worked here for some years, longer than most employees. There is no guarantee that I won't lose my job over an unexpected absence like this. The company seems more tolerant than average for such events, but their patience surely has a limit. I feel I am near this limit.

Being in the IT department, I could work also remotely, even on the train. This is not the custom of the company, and I would need a manager's approval.

How should I minimise my chances of losing my job and lose the least possible respect of my bosses?

Would it be better if I explain this situation? This personal problem probably looks quite different through the eyes of my boss.

12
  • 103
    "And feel I near this limit now" why do you feel that way? It seems this is a one-time occurrence for you, what else happened that you think they reached a "limit"?
    – nvoigt
    Apr 8, 2019 at 5:25
  • 8
    (With a reason, communicated properly) Why not showing up at work will cause you lose your job? That's what extreme. Apr 8, 2019 at 5:27
  • 17
    I suspect you aren't using "Bride" quite correctly. "Bride" usually refers to a woman who is currently in the process of getting married. "Wife" is a woman who is married. "Engaged" is someone who is going to get married. "My Wife" refers to someone who is married to you; "My Bride" is someone you are currently getting married to. (the exact period over which you are "getting married" as opposed to "being married" is fuzzy, admittedly)
    – Yakk
    Apr 8, 2019 at 14:13
  • 3
    @nvoigt I am not married, I am about to be married. Thus, I could not refer an existing marriage, part of the problem was that she did not see the clear road to our wedding, while she is also pregnant. In her eye: she is pregnant, we talked about marriage but no exact timeline, father is 1500 km away, and then he does not talk to her 3 days long. It is logical that she became shocked, I should have seen that. We have a wedding timeline now and she seems to be okay, but it required me in persona to calm down she.
    – Gray Sheep
    Apr 9, 2019 at 20:04
  • 5
    @PaulK Light positive, he asked how things are going. I don't know, if any long-term consequence will follow, probably not, but I can't predict it yet.
    – Gray Sheep
    Apr 10, 2019 at 9:51

6 Answers 6

237

How to maximize my chance to not lose my job and to lose the least possible respect by my bosses?

Call as soon as you can get through.

Tell your boss that a family emergency came up and you won't be there Monday or Tuesday.

Good luck.

2
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Neo
    Apr 10, 2019 at 16:00
  • 2
    Since this got bumped to the top, I'll add that in Germany, employers must expect their employees to 'call in sick' any day, it's their right. So not showing up for work on a monday should not be a huge catastrophe. If your manager is understanding and you have a good relationship, there is fairly little to worry here. Other than sick days, 'My child is sick' is also a reason why some employees might suddenly stay off work. However in this particular case, I'd ask for "sudden and unexpected Urlaub, i.e. Paid time off."
    – Mookuh
    May 9 at 9:06
67
  • contact your manager/boss by email/text. Tell him that there is a personal situation which requires your presence with your bride

  • call him/her in the morning

Don't be too specific on the details. If you don't ask for such things very often, then I would hope for the best.

8
  • 7
    I doubt "don't be too specific on the details" is a good recommendation. I would say the opposite: be open about the situation. Apr 8, 2019 at 6:59
  • 103
    The boss will almost certainly ask the question "when will you be back at work." Think about the answer to that before you start the phone call!
    – alephzero
    Apr 8, 2019 at 10:18
  • 6
    @kapex I see your point, but if the boss is likely not to understand the situation, I think she would also not understand the "Family emergency. Period." -approach any better. Apr 8, 2019 at 12:55
  • 13
    There is definitely a lot of options between giving the boss every detail and "Family emergency. Period." Something like "I had a family emergency come up with my fiance so I will be out of the office until at least Wednesday and possibly not until Friday", which give a little more detail, is much more personable, but doesn't go into the fine details of what is going on for the OP
    – Kevin
    Apr 8, 2019 at 16:16
  • 3
    In addition to @alphazero: Think about the answer before you start the phone call AND provide a realistic prognosis. Dont call on Monday to say you will be there on Wednesday, than call Tuesday night to say you will be there on Thursday, and so on...
    – Ivana
    Apr 9, 2019 at 11:09
24

The answers so far address the personal angle. Definitely call and explain (leaving out whatever personal details you wish).

From a legal perspective, the term is "Vorübergehende Verhinderung" according to BGB §616 in Germany, or "Abwesenheit aus wichtigem persönlichen Grund" in Austria (other countries may have similar rules). Basically you are protected if you need to be absent for a brief time for important reasons. For details, see for example Vorübergehende Arbeitsverhinderung by the IHK Niederrhein (Chamber of Commerce and Industry).

Basically, your employer must grant paid (!) leave if:

  • the absence is for a "short time" (there is no explicit rule for the duration, but usually a day or two is ok)
  • working must be "unacceptable" (unzumutbar) for the employee
  • the employee is not personally at fault for the problem at hand (for example, unable to work because of heavy drinking)

Common examples where this right applies are:

  • getting married
  • birth of a child (for the father, mothers get maternity leave by law anyway)
  • death of close family member
  • relocation (in some cases)
  • taking care of close family members, if there is no other option

IANAL but I have legal training and from my experience you should be legally in the clear. Another common use for this rule is people staying at home if their child is sick and the other parent can't take care of it (e.g. both parents are working).

Definitely do not falsely claim that you are sick. That would be grounds for an immediate termination if your lie is uncovered.

4
  • Did you try adding "Germany" (or rather, "Deutschland") to your search?
    – jpmc26
    Apr 9, 2019 at 21:04
  • It had been far more dangerous than saying the truth. (I said the truth.)
    – Gray Sheep
    Apr 10, 2019 at 17:04
  • 1
    @jpmc26 yes, I tried adding "Deutschland" and it still gave me links to Austrian law. Probably there's a way around it, but I didn't find it quickly.
    – Tom
    Apr 10, 2019 at 19:11
  • Good answer. I edited to include links to relevant pages for Germany, hope that's ok.
    – sleske
    May 9 at 8:34
17

I live and work in Germany, and have been both boss and employee.

I would say that the best way to proceed depends on your boss. Every country is like this, but there is certainly still some xenophobia in Germany.

If your boss is friendly towards foreigners, then I would give him full disclosure. Tell him exactly what is going on.

If your boss is generally somebody that looks down on foreigners, then I would give him/her as little information as possible. Giving him information, such as the fact that you have a bride in another country will just fuel his/her fire, and give him more reason to dislike the situation. In this case, just say that you have an extremely important life or death family matter that must be dealt with immediately. In this case, we mean life or death of the baby, but do not tell the boss that. If he presses for details, I would just say that, "I would prefer not to discuss it." No respectable person would press you for more details. If he forces you to give a valid excuse, then I would tell him that you would be glad to talk to HR about the situation. I can't see how a boss needs to know about your personal situation.

13
  • 16
    Not sure this is relevant. Wife is living 1500km away, but that doesn't necessarily imply that OP is not German. In any case, he didn't mention any concern about possible xenophobia from his boss.
    – dim
    Apr 8, 2019 at 8:11
  • 4
    You are right. I just assumed this to be the case. Apr 8, 2019 at 8:13
  • 3
    In any case, his hesitance toward just telling his boss seems to imply to me that he thinks that his boss will not take this well Apr 8, 2019 at 8:14
  • 7
    Then, again: the employee might still have Ukrain roots, be a russion speaker or whatever. German xenophobs recently came up with the word Passdeutscher meaning soemone is german because their passport says so, Not because of their bloodline/origin. Apr 8, 2019 at 8:57
  • 2
    @dim He's "from a small Middle European country, not far away from Transsylvania", so most likely not German. Apr 8, 2019 at 12:46
11

Putting some existing answers together in a more verbatim manner.

"Dear [Bossname],

Due to an unfortunate family event, involving my pregnant fiancée living in [Neverneverland], I will be unable to be at [Workplace City] in person this [Monday].

Currently, I am on my way to [Neverneverland]. I will be able to work remotely for [Doomsday] and [Damsday]. As for the time since [Thenday], I am not sure if I will be able to work. I will keep you informed. Please count these days as my paid leave, if it will not work out. I plan to be back by [Monday next week], but cannot say for sure at the moment.

I apologise deeply for this sudden and unexpected leave, but the situation is urgent. I will be available by phone and email today and on [Doomsday]. From [Damsday] onward I am in [Neverneverland] and would be available per email and [Telegraph] chat only. I apologise again for the inconvenience.

Best regards,

John Doe"


On a separate notice I wish OP good luck and an understanding from his employer.

1
  • Good, concrete template for how to formulate the response. One addition: OP may even be entitled to extra paid leave depending on circumstances (BGB §616, see Tom's answer), so I'd advise to leave out the part "count these days as my paid leave" - you can sort that out later.
    – sleske
    May 9 at 8:50
5

Already a bit late, but at the companies where I have worked this would be handled by calling the immediate superior and asking for a day off or two (Gleitzeit/Urlaub) because of a family emergency. HR and higher management would not even know that something unusual happened. However, if your company is very small, things might work differently.

Many German employees can also take sick leave for up to three days without seeing the doctor. But I would not recommend that in this case, as employers take that very seriously and some coworkers do not really like that either.

Even if your employer thinks that "troublesome girlfriend" is not a valid excuse for missing work, you might still just get a Abmahnung (kind of a last warning) instead of firing you. But that obviously depends a lot on your boss.

P.S. a short google search suggests that an Abmahnung is indeed mandatory before firing someone for missing work. I any case, I would still strongly suggest to try to solve this without getting an Abmahnung.

6
  • Note that the three sick days count calendar days, so that only allows him Monday. Apr 8, 2019 at 12:47
  • 1
    No. Three calendar days means that if he gets sick on Friday, he has to see the doctor on Monday. If he gets sick on Monday, he has to see the doctor on Thursday. But as said, this is not what I would recommend anyway.
    – Jan
    Apr 8, 2019 at 14:22
  • 5
    "Many German employees can also take sick leave for up to three days without seeing the doctor." Faking an illness can be grounds for immediate termination (Fristlose Kuendigung), so yeah that sounds like a less than brilliant plan indeed.
    – Voo
    Apr 8, 2019 at 21:53
  • @Voo OP's situation causes a lot of tension and stress on him, which could/does affect his ability to work. I'd say that qualifies for a sick leave for psychological reasons. And I know there are general practitioners in Germany that certify the incapacity for work.
    – Arsak
    Apr 9, 2019 at 9:16
  • I would still be careful with this. I personally would do this only if a) I am convinced I am unfit for work, b) I am convinced I can convince my boss I am unfit for work, or c) the choice is between potential termination if I get caught and certain termination if I have no excuse for not showing up to work (e.g. after a prior formal warning). I am not sure any of these apply here, thus "not recommended".
    – Jan
    Apr 9, 2019 at 10:31

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .