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Background Information: Germany, Junior Dev, female, mid 20s

I am leaving my current job in the middle of July because of: Sexual Harassment, helpless and scared

I have a new job lined up for me starting August 1st, that is also the date written in the contract. After signing the contract my new employer told me I could start earlier and to just give him a call.

Reason for this was, that when I interviewed for the new job I was not exactly sure when my end date will be, and I am still not sure.

Because of the "struggles" at my current work I really feel the need to take some time off. I do not want to take time off in the first few month of my next job in fear it might make a bad impression.

So I was planning to go spend a week between jobs relaxing and trying to get the old job out of my mind. But this raises a couple of questions:

Can my next employer find out? Should I tell him beforehand?

Am I obligated to start earlier if I can, even though it was only an informal request from my next employer?

Edit: I don’t believe it is a dublicate because I signed a contract with a start date I agree with. I am asking about an informal request by the employer to start earlier. The answers on the linked question don’t really apply.

  • Could the downvoter please tell me the reason? I gladly add more information, or refactor the question. – Pudora May 21 at 9:57
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    Likely duplicate of: this or this – Lilienthal May 21 at 10:18
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    @Michael English is not my first language, I am sorry. I meant saying I won’t take vacation days off in the first few month. If I catch the flu (hopefully not) I will of course stay at home. – Pudora May 21 at 20:25
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    My friends who have done this refer to it as being "funemployed". Hope you enjoy your time off, don't feel bad at all. – Eidolon108 May 21 at 20:59
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    Possible duplicate of Can I take one month break between two jobs? – Martin Schröder May 21 at 22:25
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Can my next employer find out?

Yes they might. Paperwork required between parties might give them the end-date of your last employment. But there is nothing to gain here for your future employer, so the probability is high that they will not spend a split-second on even trying. And paperwork is handled by HR, you are asking about your future boss, they will probably not even talk about this.

Should I tell him beforehand?

Not really. There is nothing to gain. If you want to be helpful, you could write them a mail to the effect that you are not able to start before, but are looking forward to start at the contractually agreed date. But that's optional. If they don't hear from you, they will assume you start when agreed upon.

Am I obligated to start earlier if I can, even though it was only an informal request from my next employer?

No. Period. You are obligated to start at the exact date stated in your contract. Matter of fact starting early required paperwork so starting early only really makes sense if it's early. For example any benefits for the company when you start just a week early will probably be eaten up by the additional work to change your contract and change the plans (i.e. get your equipment a week early, have your access rights prepared a week early etc).

Especially in Germany, with our rather strong labor laws and the employers duty to give you enough time off and the employees duty to come back fit for work, it's perfectly normal to not just jump from one desk right to the next, but instead have time off in between. That's not a problem, that's normal. I would expect that to happen, we all want to give a good impression and not take days off at the start of a new job, so that's very much the default when changing jobs. Relax, take some time off, do everything you need to do (whether that's mental or plain physical like finally doing the gardening work you always postponed during your old job) to start your new job as fit as possible.

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    In the USA it's also entirely acceptable to give yourself some vacation time between jobs. I mean, it's probably unpaid vacation time, unless your previous employer walks you out when you turn in your two weeks notice. – Wayne Werner May 21 at 18:05
  • @WayneWerner ... or you get unused PTO/etc paid out. Even with having to use COBRA to insure the gap, I could have taken a few weeks at the end of my last job with the hours I was paid out for. – Dan Neely May 21 at 20:12
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    The last time I went from one job to another, my last day was Monday (weird, yes, but that's what the situation was) with my first day at the new job being the very next day, Tuesday. I wish I would have taken a week off to change mental gears. As it was, it still took about a week to get my mind off the previous jobs tasks. – computercarguy May 21 at 21:13
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    I used to take 6 months off between jobs. I was still living like a student (no house, no car, no children) with an engineer's salary, so I could afford it. I recommend it. – Peter A. Schneider May 22 at 8:26
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    @WayneWerner It's technically not even vacation time; it's more just being unemployed for a week or two. Your employer can't stop you from doing it because you literally don't have one at that point. – anaximander May 22 at 8:36
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  1. Can my next employer find out? Yes. But he won't look it up.
  2. Should I tell him beforehand? No.
  3. Am I obligated to start earlier if I can, even though it was only an informal request from my next employer? No.

To 1.: Your new employer offering that you can start earlier indicates that they need you badly – which is no surprise, given Germany's job market at this time. This gives you the upper hand. You could probably also negotiate a later start date if you want to.

In general: I have only known people who take time off between jobs.

  • Especially in Germany, where around 30 vacation days are the norm, you usually have time off between jobs by taking the rest of your contractually obligated vacation days. It's called Urlaubstage abfeiern, for English readers: Partying off vacation days. So even if your contracts leave no free day, you usually spend time not at work.

  • All people I have known so far planned their new contract in a way that gives them time between jobs. People seem to be very happy about that time when it falls into Germany's summer months June, July and August. So enjoy! And don't worry when your new co-workers ask about it.

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I have changed jobs a lot during my career and most of the time I have taken one or two weeks in-between them (not in Germany).

There is no problem in not starting earlier, specially if this does not demand moving the start date.

If the current start date allows you to take the days off, go ahead. If somebody ever asks, just tell them that you need to sort some things before starting the new job.

If I understood your new employer, they are just opening themselves for the hypothesis you want to start earlier.

Take some deserved days of rest.

Good luck.

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If 1st August is in your contract then that is your start date, you are under no obligation to start any earlier. Of course new employers are always keen for you to start as soon as possible; they obviously have things they need doing and the prospect of getting them done sooner is always appealing. But it's left up to you to accept if you want to. Any reasonable employer will understand that a break between jobs is something that a sizeable proportion of people like to do.

As to what you do with that time in between, it's purely your business. If anyone asks, "a holiday" is more than sufficient answer.

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First of all you have probably some vacation time you already earned this year in your old job. You should take all your vacation time from your old job during your employment at the old job, because you will get only a part from this years vacation time at your new job. Your new employer will request an “Urlaubsbescheinigung” from your old employer to see how many vacation days you already have taken this calendar year.

Second of all there’s nothing wrong to end the old job a week earlier and start the new job after this free time (you may want to check possible implications with health insurance though).

But your employer will not care after all and not ask for a reason in Germany.

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    you have probably some vacation time you already earned this year in your old job: Note that OP said that she leaves in the middle of July, which means that she is entitled to claim all Urlaubstage of the year (so at least the minimum of four weeks plus whatever is specified in her contract). That's also the reason the Urlaubsbescheinigung is actually important (but I know a lot of companies don't care). – sloth May 22 at 7:33
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You would have a 2 week gap where you wouldn't be insured, so it is highly recommended to tell the Agentur fuer Arbeit, that you will be unemployed for those two weeks. Since you quit your old job and weren't fired, the Agentur fuer Arbeit might not cover health and pension insurance, but a new job lined up, they might depending on the circumstances. Just show up at your local Arbeitsagentur and talk to them. You always have the option for 2 weeks of private insurance, that shouldn't be too expensive.

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    And being registered with the Agentur might help with the pensions, as this time might otherwise become a gap in your insurance history. – Martin Schröder May 21 at 22:27
  • Wait what? Does Germany really have a terrible system like that? I can’t believe you’re not insured unless you’re working. – Sebastiaan van den Broek May 22 at 1:35
  • I think you need to add details about what insurance you mean. As it stands, it leaves the impression that you are not insured at all, which is dead wrong. – nvoigt May 22 at 6:31
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    @SebastiaanvandenBroek You are always insured, but in certain situations you have to pay the insurance fee yourself, e.g. when voluntarily quitting a job and starting the next one some time later. As I understand from the linked post, it's another case, a contract not renewed by the employer. One should better ask the health insurance company. If you don't pay, you'd still be insured, able to get free or subsidized medical treatment like everyone else, but the insurance company will collect the insurance fee later. – berendi May 22 at 6:47
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    @MartinSchröder that should not be a problem with the compulsory pension fund if the time of unemployment is less than a full calendar month (at least this is how the system works now, future changes notwithstanding). Either way it's the best course of action to register and have the health insurance situation sorted out. – Ghanima May 22 at 9:31
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I cannot imagine why a new employer would CARE. You want a week off? Great. Is the new employer paying you for that week? I assume not...so why would it bother them? If you can afford to go a week without pay, and you want time off, knock yourself out. Enjoy. If anything, it's going to benefit the new employer to have an employee fresh off a vacation time that they didn't have to pay for.

Sleep late, do nothing. Or go sit on the beach for a week.

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For what it is worth, as an employer I actively encourage incoming and exiting staff to take a short break.

  • You new employer should care whether or not you take a break - but in a positive way.
  • Breaks are in the interest of the employer - you arrive feeling refreshed and with more energy for work.
  • A break before you start comes at no cost to them.
  • The employer has already made a decision that your are good to hire; requesting a break will not change their decision.

Additionally, being able to have this conversation and see how it goes is very useful for you to understand company culture and attitude of the manager. Can they have a mature and sensible conversation? In the unlikely case they are difficult, you get a big red flag before you start work and can consider whether or not they are a good place to work in the first place.

  • This. If it's not too late why not ask the new company/boss for some additional time off before starting. Resetting the start date is typically a fairly simple adjustment. The stated reason for burnout is serious and starting a few weeks later would make a lot of sense. – javadba May 22 at 3:01
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Additional answer:

Maybe you planned unnecessarily short relaxation period.

In my country, I have several colleagues in the IT sector who ended one job with ultimate need of relaxation and restoration period. They officially registered themselves as unemployed (in "Arbeitsamt") and then used maximum possible paid unemployment period (6 months here) for themselves, then happily started in their new IT job, delivering few years of stable performance since then.

The only necessity was bringing a confirmation each month from a different company that they cannot hire you. (But if applied to non-software local companies or municipal offices, it easy to obtain a truth-based rejection of the application.) Another way is to get a longer medical leave based on the actual symptoms. Burning out is often a valid reason to legitimately apply for such a leave.

Due to high demand of software developers, no one of them had any issues in finding a job nor their temporary unemployment raised an eyebrow. Whoever works in the industry, sooner or later becomes able to understand burning out and a leave taken as a good mean of its remediation, which meets with understanding even if directly admitted in the interview. (And many of us plan this as eventuality in next change of the job, too, burned out or not. Recently I did also hear the same from one manager I met :)

Unless you badly desire about a super-polished career, think: Is earning the money without a break worth it? Calculate you finances and decide well. (Now you are decided, but maybe next time when changing your job.)

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    IMO this is the best answer. I fired myself and took a well earned break in my last job. Even if an unpaid leave, it is well worth it. Life is short. – Rui F Ribeiro May 22 at 11:29

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