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I have been working in a German start-up company for one year and three months. I come from Asia. My employer has given me a notice of termination at the end of Oct 2020. The notice period was 3 months and thus my date of termination is 31.12.2020.

I accepted the termination on the day itself as I was not very happy as well the reasons they provided to me. Still, I thought of acting professionally and provide them the assigned task within the last 3 months so that I do not burn the bridges before I leave the company.

However, the employer took full advantage of it and provided me a lot of work to finish and suggested me to finish it by end of this month. The employer also said that other work for the next month (Dec 2020) thus, I should finish this work by this month that is Nov 2020. I did all the work and made a presentation to them as per the requirement. After getting all the work before the stipulated time, my employer said what I have done is not really 'useful' and they want to terminate the contract now that is Nov 2020, instead of next month. I was already in a notice period and then also they want to terminate my contract beforehand. 

  • Can anybody suggest if I do not accept this early termination before the notice period then what should I do? Whom should I approach for help?

If I accept this early termination before 31.12.2020 then I would miss my unemployment benefit for a few months as well. I requested my Employer stating this problem and he said that I should return to my country instead of taking this benefit from Germany. I was shocked to listen to his statements! He does not have the right to decide upon that.

Please guide me on what I can do if I do not accept this early termination without proper reason. I wonder how they can give me an early termination with improper reason at the end of two months whereas they have given me a notice period of 3 months.

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    How long have you been with this company? Are you on a visa (if so, what type)? – Tymoteusz Paul Nov 25 '20 at 20:10
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    That is the main question. German Courts uphold termination periods quite vigorously - but if youa re still in the trial period, the termination period may be "next day" and this is legal.So, when did your contract start? What does the contract say for Trial Period (Probezeit) which normally is 3 to 6 months. – TomTom Nov 25 '20 at 22:41
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    "at the end of Oct 2020. The notice period was 3 months and thus my date of termination is 31.12.2020" This does not add up. With a three month notice period, notified in October would make your last day at some point in January, not December 31st. Maybe it was "6 weeks from the quarters end", which is also common? – nvoigt Nov 26 '20 at 6:23
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    To reiterate, do no sign anything. Since they cannot simply fire you, they will probably try to convince you to sign an "Aufhebungsvertrag". Legally this means you agree to being terminated (thus making being jobless your own fault) and it will negatively affect you visa and your jobless benefits. Do not sign anything. If they do not want you to come to work anymore before your notice period is over, it is customary to send you home at full pay. – Eike Pierstorff Nov 26 '20 at 14:05
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    I requested my Employer stating this problem and he said that I should return to my country instead of taking this benefit from Germany. if you have this in written (or have any witnesses to this being said to you) I would suggest reporting this behavior to HR and Arbeitsamt. This is completely inappropriate and demeaning and shouldn't be tolerated. – Egor Nov 26 '20 at 21:36
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Can anybody suggest if I do not accept this early termination before the notice period then what should I do? Whom should I approach for help?

I suspect that you should consult a Lawyer that is familiar with work laws in Germany, they will be able to actually provide you with legal advise. Best wishes for you in that endeavor.

Also, check your contract to see what is specified about early dismissals or letting you go before the notice period. If the contract specifies a fixed notice period they should stick to it and respect its full length, unless otherwise specified.

Don't hastily accept any early dismissal they are offering. Consult first.

Check it out, and also provide a copy of it to the lawyer you consult to see where you are standing and what options you have and what legal obligations your company has.

In the meantime, I strongly suggest you start job hunting ASAP. Update your Resume and start applying now. This way you will minimize the time you spend between jobs, and so you minimize the impact to your life and economy.

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    Getting a lawyer doesn't create conflict. It often avoids conflict. If your employer figures out that you know your rights, they will hesitate violating them. – gnasher729 Nov 26 '20 at 0:58
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    @Azhu Employees have very good protection in Germany. If your rights were violated, talking to a lawyer will be a strong advantage at low risks for you. – Roland Nov 26 '20 at 8:24
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    Double talking to a lawyer...unfortunately my experience in germany working was close to the same as the OP...the second a lawyer talked to the company for me, everything changed, and all of a sudden there were no problems anymore. Shitty German employers love to try to screw over their foreign workers who don‘t know their rights. – morbo Nov 26 '20 at 15:27
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    @Azhu, consulting a lawyer means that you are getting a second opinion from a qualified professional who is not a party in this matter. You are not asking the lawyer to take any action. – Bart van Ingen Schenau Nov 26 '20 at 15:48
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    "I thought of not going into any conflict" - it does not matter what you thought. Your employer is taking you to a conflict. You have 2 choices: Defend your rights, or loose them. "Not going into any conflict" is NOT YOUR CHOICE - that was done. If you fold, you loose. – TomTom Nov 29 '20 at 14:00
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  • Talk to the workers Council (Betriebsrat) in your company
  • Talk to a lawyer specialized in working law and describe them everything, including the remarks

It's pretty hard in Germany to fire people before the notice period, if you do your job even if perceived badly. If they want to have you gone earlier they should give you something for it. If you are interested to continue working in Germany the thing you could negotiate about is the "Arbeitszeugnis", but that is something which you need to discuss with a lawyer how to ensure it.

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  • Maybe a hint that not every company has a workers council might be helpful - especially for foreigners. – Chris Nov 26 '20 at 9:15
  • @Chris if the company does not have one, yet, now is the right time to establish one. In every company with at least 5 eligible employees (head count, not FTE), there has to be established a Betriebsrat (by the employees!). There are just no sanctions for not doing it. – I'm with Monica Nov 26 '20 at 10:20
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    @I'mWithMonica: Now is definitely not the right time for OP to establish a workers counsil. Other people from the company are not here in this forum, just OP. – guest Nov 26 '20 at 12:36
  • @Sascha: It is a small company of 9 people. Thus, we do not have any working council. Do you know any other alternative? – Azhu Nov 26 '20 at 13:28
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    @I'mwithMonica: in the OPs situation establishing a Betriebsrat is not going to fly. Taken into account that the climate in the comanay seems to be in a ways that people beleive that openly racist remarks are ok it's probably not going to sucees and regarding the timining it would not help. Going to a lawyer seems the right course of action. – Sascha Nov 26 '20 at 18:42
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As others said, lawyer up. Your employer is obviously trying to bully you out of the company early and profit from you not knowing your rights.

Please don't let yourself be pushed around, Germany has very good employee protection. Unless you work in an EXTREMELY small industry where literally everyone knows each other, you don't have a lot to lose here.

If you were German and/or your employer had the feeling that you know your rights, they would approach the situation way more respectfully, knowing that you could easily call in sick until the end of your contract and they would not be allowed to bad-mouth you in your Arbeitszeugnis for it. Not at all saying you should do that, but please get in touch with someone who knows and protects your rights.

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  • It is indeed a small company of 9 people. I wonder if I approach an lawyer does it really help to get a good arbeitzeugniss? – Azhu Nov 26 '20 at 13:31
  • @Azhu Yes, contact an employment lawyer. Courts have ruled that employers are not allowed to give a bad Arbeitszeugnis. It's probably impossible for you to judge if an Arbeitszeugnis is actually good or if it is bad disguised as good. Certain code words have developed over time. You need an expert helping you. – Roland Nov 26 '20 at 13:35
  • @Azhu The arbeitszeugnis is in germany mandatory to be postive...though those who read them will understand specific undertones...this isn‘t something you need to worry about, it‘s about being screwed over by your employer and lawyering up and using the system thats in your favour, for you. There are plenty of great companies to work for out there in germany, lawyer up, get your money and move on. – morbo Nov 26 '20 at 15:30
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You may consider joining "your" labor union (they are organized by profession/field).
(Talking to your Betriebsrat would have been good advise, too, had there been one)

Labor unions give legal advise about labor law (actually you could ask whether you can use that service even without being member) and they can also recommend lawyers that have experience with cases such as yours.
(Reading & explaining the proposed Arbeitszeugnis is also full in their line. Since the Arbeitszeugnis is a) important and b) subject to negotiation [even if your employer suggests that it is something they simply hand out to you] this question will come up next.)

In any case, my guesstimate is that it is much cheaper to get the "crash course" in German labor law you need right now by the labor union legal service rather than by paying a lawyer for this service. The lawyer may come in after that.

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  • Do Betreibsrat people speak English? I could not fid any contact number or email address to contact them. – Azhu Dec 1 '20 at 9:51

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