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I started a new position in Germany in December. I'm currently in a probation period of 6 months, ending May 31st. During the probation period, my notice period is two weeks. After the probation period ended, my notice period will be three months towards the end of a month.

I was offered a new, very interesting, position in the US. I would need to move there, and because of family (kids in school), I can only move in August (the new employer would give me one week off for relocation). So my new contract would need to start on 1st of August. I don't have the option to work remotely both in the old and in the new job.

My problem now is when to resign: when resigning now or until end of May, my contract will end two weeks later, i.e. I will be out of work by mid June latest. When resigning in June, my contract will end on September 30th, which is too late for my new job.

I cannot afford being without a salary in June and July, and I have only three weeks of vacation days left, so that's not enough to bridge the gap.

Is there any way I can resign so that my old contract ends in July?

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    If you have a decent relationship with your employer you can negotiate whatever you both agree to with an "Aufhebungsvertrag" or something like that. Granted, that's dicey while you are in probation. You can consider posting a question in law.stackexchange.com about the exact rules in Germany that kick in if the contractual notice period changes after resignation. It's an interesting legal question
    – Hilmar
    Apr 21 at 12:02
  • You should get legal advice. When I lived in Germany some years ago it was illegal to have a notice period of more than 1 month in my work contract. A specific work contract must not be worse than the template provided by the government and that stated 1 month notice period.
    – mch
    May 3 at 9:25

4 Answers 4

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Well, you could hand in your resignation before the probation period is over, but with an effective date of July 31st. But then your employer could respond by firing you with two weeks notice, because you are still in the probation period.

The options I see here are:

  1. Negotiate with your current employer. You still have 3 weeks of vacation you need to take anyway, so you are talking about just a single week of work they are missing out on.
  2. Negotiate with the school. German Schulpflicht only applies to children as long as they live in Germany. It doesn't stop them from emigrating to another country. They will of course be obligated to visit school until the day they leave, but that's it. So the only school which could complain about this is the new school in the United States. Would it really be that big of a deal for that school if your kids start a couple weeks late?
  3. Break the contract. Resign as soon as your probation period is over, just fly to the United States on August 1st, and take whatever legal consequences await you for missing out on a week of work without an excuse. You are definitely burning a bridge by doing this. And they might consider to sue you for damages incurred by your breach of contract. But international lawsuits can often be more trouble than they are worth. Ask a lawyer about what's the worst that could happen if you just don't show up, and decide for yourself if those consequences are worth it.
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  • As you say, they're unlikely to sue if you quit suddenly, although I'd be worried about what would happen to your final month's salary.
    – Stuart F
    Apr 22 at 16:14
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In my experience the best way of addressing any issue is communication.

As I understand, August 1 is non negotiable start date, because if it is - moving new job start is always easier then staying at a place you leaving.

But, since you already decided to switch jobs, you should talk to your current employer toward the end of May, but still within your two week period and negotiate end date of July 31.

It may or may not work, but not much of the options are available.

Financially, there may be few options for you, starting with unemployment (don`t know how it works in Germany), all the way through negotiating an advance payment or loan with your new employer

Wold be nice if you can keep up updated and congratulations on the new position :)

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It might be helpful to note that in the US, school usually is on break for most or all of June, all of July, and part or all of August. So if you moved in June, for example, it's fine for your kids - they will have the time off at that point anyway. Don't worry about the school terms exactly - it's not like the schooling matches up perfectly anyway between the two countries, or end of term tests or anything like that really matter between the two.

If you're able to move up your start date, that's probably the easiest resolution - enroll your children in their US school as soon as possible, and then let the German school know you're transferring them effective [date]. That way they can tell you what they'd like to do; if they push back, just let them know that's your date of emigration and don't worry about it further.

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I think you misunderstood how the notice periods work. You can resign at no shorter time period than stated in your contract but you can always hand in your notice sooner. So, if you want your last day of work to be July 31st, you need to hand in your notice by April 30th at the latest. But you can do it today already - just state that you wish to resign by July 31st.

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    If you resign while on probation, the employer can still terminate you with two weeks. Notice period goes both ways and there is little protection during probation.
    – Hilmar
    Apr 21 at 11:48
  • @Hilmar Sure, but that was not what the question is about?!
    – erc
    Apr 21 at 11:49
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    How so? The question is "Is there any way I can resign so that my old contract ends in July?". Your answer may work, but there is also non-trivial risk of the contract ending way earlier than July.
    – Hilmar
    Apr 21 at 11:57
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    Sure, if you assume that the boss is an idiot then it may not work. But then just breaking the contract and getting another contract in the US may not be the best idea either ;)
    – erc
    Apr 21 at 12:01
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    @erc There is nothing inherently idiotic than firing somebody who is on probation so you can get somebody else in to skill up to become useful. Apr 21 at 12:49

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