21

I quit on 25th February and sent a letter (tracking with signature) to the HR department since my contract says that the resignation should be in written format.

The letter could not be delivered but the recipient was notified to collect it from a nearby post office.

But the HR denies receiving it on 28th of February, saying I do not have your letter on my table and today is already 1st of March and we will consider resignation from the 1st of March instead of February. The end date for resigning in March compared to February will be one month longer, since the notice period starts the month after my official resignation.

I have sent it on February end and if the HR has not received it on time even after notifying then how is it my mistake? Why should I serve a longer notice period?

Please throw some light on this on how it can be dealt with or is it legally accepted I also have snapshot of the DHL tracking says the recipient is notified on 28th Feb.

Does the notice to the recipient to pick up the post count as delivered?

Update: I had to send it on Friday since I received my next company offer letter on 25th and wanted to review the letter before resigning. Yes, I know it could be very tricky to be delivered the next day but my luck it was notified to pickup on Monday. I had to send by post because the HR sits in a different state and can be sent only by post. I have a chance to negotiate with my manager but wanted to get some Insights before I could do it.

Update: I spoke with my manager and he also was confused on why I should serve 4 months instead of 3 months and he agreed last working day as 31.05.2022. So, all good :)

1
  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Lilienthal
    Mar 3, 2022 at 22:11

3 Answers 3

35

First things first: sending a letter on a Friday and expecting it to arrive on Monday is very risky. Yes. It can. But I don't think the carrier can guarantee that. Next time, don't do those things at the very last second. You had all February to hand in your resignation and you did it literally on the last possible day. This is Germany. There will be no repercussions, they cannot fire you, there is no point in waiting until it becomes a matter of hours and hopeful wishes and prayers that the postal worker might have a good day. Whether you are legally right or not is another question… but you could have saved all of you a lot of trouble by just sending it earlier.

For real legal advice, please ask a lawyer. This has many fine details that I might not know, or that might even have been lost by your translation into English and then by the backwards translation of this post into German.

The important thing is not when the letter ended up on their desk or when they read it. The important thing is the date when it was delivered to their legal address's mailbox. You might know those chase scenes from American movies, where finally the person catches up by tricks or plain athletics and hands the person chased down an envelope with the words "you have been served". This stupid kindergarden game does not exist here. Every legal entity (person or company) has to have an address for legal purposes. Papers count as served when they have been delivered to that address' mailbox. Whether the legal entity checks their mailbox or not is their problem. Deadlines start at date served, not the date anybody bothers to look into the mailbox.

That means if you can prove your resignation was delivered to the company mailbox on time, you are good. Typically, this is done through registered mail, called "Einschreiben" in Germany.

What I find strange is that your mail was not delivered, but brought to a collection point. That only happens to bigger packages that do not fit the mailbox (unlikely for the half page a resignation takes). It also can happen if you send it to be delivered and signed. This would be the default feature of an "Einschreiben".

This is the point where the finer details matter. I personally would think that the point of the law is that it is important it was delivered. I mean what is the alternative, I can just ignore all legal papers, if I just refuse to sign for them? Common sense says that being delivered ("served") is plenty. But common sense and "the law" sometimes clash.

If you did not send an "Einschreiben mit Rückschein" (registered mail with a paper slip as proof for you) make sure you make screenshots of all the tracking information. Normal tracking information of your carrier is not meant for long-term legal storage. It might vanish from their systems a while after the item has been sucessfully delivered. Screenshots might not be as good as the paper slip, but at least you have something.

Consult a lawyer specialized on labor law ("Fachanwalt für Arbeitsrecht"). Let them write to your employer. A lawyers letterhead does wonders to German bureaucracy. Most of the time, it doesn't even matter whether you are right. Many people will just consider the gain (another month of someone demotivated doing a token job) versus the cost (fighting with a lawyer) and consider it not worth it. It will cost you though, the lawyer will charge you. Consider this the fee you have to pay for not doing it on time, but instead rushing it last minute.


In case the lawyer tells you it actually is your fault and they are right, try to negotiate. You can have any notice period, even none at all, as long as both parties agree to it. I'm sure a company is not super keen on keeping and paying a disgruntled worker longer than neccessary. It's just that HR cannot decide that on their own. They can only look at your contract with no context or negotiation power. It is likely up to the person who signed your contract originally (or their successor) to negotiate different terms. The word for that is "Aufhebungsvertrag". Basically a contract terminating another contract on different terms than originally stated, which is only possible when both parties of the original contract agree on it.

1
  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Lilienthal
    Mar 3, 2022 at 22:11
22

You are most likely asking the wrong question

Chances are you did shoot yourself in the foot by requiring the signature (and obviously by waiting until the last minute). The carrier can only hand over the package after they have a signature and if no one signed on Feb 28, the letter didn't get delivered on Feb 28.

But what you really care about is your notice period and when you can leave. While there is a set of rules that governs this, these rules only kick in if both parties can't agree on something else. In Germany you can always do an "Aufhebungsvertrag" which ends your employment in mutual agreement on whatever date or terms & conditions you both agree too.

A three or four month notice period isn't really in the interest of the employer either: You have someone sitting there who doesn't want to be there any more and not particularly incentivized to do their best work.

Your best shot at getting what you want is stay friendly & collaborative and to ask nicely. Make it a win-win. Brain storm some ideas of things you can do during the notice period that are beneficial for the employer. This could be

  1. Offering to leave early so they can save money
  2. Offer to leave early, if they find a replacement.
  3. Have a good plan on documentation and transitioning your current responsibilities. If you can credibly show that you can do this in a month, what's the point in keeping you 3 more?
  4. Offer to work a few extra hours to compensate for the early departure
  5. Whatever other ideas you may have. You can also ask your manager or someone else you trust for advice

Humans are humans: The more you dig in your heels and are being obstinate, the less likely your employer will be to accommodate you. Opening a conversation with a legal confrontational argument about delivery dates is probably the worst way to start a negotiation. Try apologizing instead (without admitting the lateness).

0
2

Usually, in German law there is rule that three days after you sent your letter, you can claim it counts as delivered. With an ordinary letter you would have met that requirement, independent whether your letter factually arrived on Monday.

As you chose tracking with signature, the date from the signature counts. You are out of luck.

Source (German): https://www.juraindividuell.de/artikel/fristen-im-oeffentlichen-recht/

2
  • 2
    a) Your source concerns "Öffentliches Recht", the laws and regulations concerning communications between government institutions and private citizens. But this case is private citizen to private citizen (well, legal entity, but private anyway).
    – nvoigt
    Mar 3, 2022 at 6:52
  • 3
    b) Even your source says "Eine Ausnahme von der „3-Tages-Fiktion“ besteht jedoch dann, wenn der VA nicht innerhalb von den drei Tagen zugeht, sondern später", which basically means you can assume that it was delivered 3 days after sending it, unless in reality it arrives later. Basically it just says "don't bother with the technical details of the receiver getting it early".
    – nvoigt
    Mar 3, 2022 at 6:52

You must log in to answer this question.

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