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I'm a recent graduate in CS currently living in Germany and looking for jobs. So I'm trying to understand more about contracts and things like that. Recently I asked this question The benefits I can ask for from companies in Germany? and in the answer the "probation period" is mentioned. Can someone please tell me what a probation period is in Germany? What are the conditions? What can and can't I do?

I understood it as a period where the employer can test me. But what does that mean? Does it mean that I can't leave the company after this period or what?!

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Essentially, the probation period is a time for the employer gets to know you better (and vice-versa), and, in case the employer realizes that you´re not able to do the job properly, where he can get rid of you again without much hassle.

Firing people after the probation period against their will requires a good reason to do so, but on the first day of your employment, the employer won´t be sure if he really wants to hire you at all. So, during the probation periond, there is a shortcut to get rid of you.

You can always leave, during or after the probation period, given that you fulfill some contractual requirements (like telling them some weeks in advance, see your contract). Employment is no prison.

For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Probation_%28workplace%29

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In addition to @deviantfan s answer, here are some more Germany-specific details:

The probation period ("Probezeit") is generally not longer than six months from the start of your work. Depending on your contract, it might be shorter, but is rarely longer than that time. This is basically a period where both you and your employer can determine whether you and the company are a good fit.

During this period, both sides (you and the employer) can terminate the contract with two weeks notice. AFAIK, there are much less regulations involved than when the employer tries to terminate your contract after that period ("Kündigungsschutz").

After that period, the usual protections for you apply. You have to give your notice much earlier when you decide to leave the company (e.g. 2 months, depending on your contract), but the employer has to give a valid reason and a longer notice when firing you. If you speak german, I would recommend reading the the wikipedia article on the Kündigungsschutz about these protections.

  • But what happens if my contract ends? Like say I have a 2-year contract and then the two years are done, he can fire me? – Jack Twain May 3 '15 at 11:11
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    @JackTwain If your contract is limited to 2 years, and your employer doesn´t explicitly extend it, it ends automatically without any firing. You´re just unemployed again after 2 years, even if no one explicitly tells you to leave. But this is not what probation period means. – deviantfan May 3 '15 at 11:13
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    @JackTwain, however the same employer cannot contract you for a series of limited employments - if your limited contract is renewed multiple times you will eventually have a legal claim for permanent employment. – Eike Pierstorff May 4 '15 at 13:58

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