Before giving notice of termination of the employment contract

You want to give notice of termination of your employment contract yourself? Good for you! It is easier for employees because, for example, the Dismissal Protection Act does not apply. Nevertheless, there are a few provisions you should think about before you terminate an employment contract. 

Form requirements

For employers as well as for employees, the following applies: A notice of termination must be in writing. It is therefore not sufficient to shout “I quit” loudly through the office. Neither does a termination via e-mail, WhatsApp or fax count. A piece of paper with your signature is all you need for your notice to be effective.


The notice of termination must be received by the employer, which means that he must become aware of it. You must therefore ensure that your letter of termination reaches your employer. If you want to be absolutely sure, hand over the letter of termination in front of witnesses or make sure you have written confirmation that your termination has reached the employer. You can also make sure that the letter of termination has been received by sending it by registered mail (“Einschreiben”)

Notice period

Normally, your notice of termination is subject to a notice period. Unless otherwise agreed, the notice period is four weeks to the 15th of the month or to the end of the month. However, longer notice periods are often agreed upon in the employment contract or collective agreement. The notice period begins to run as soon as your employer receives the notice of termination.

Only in exceptional cases you can also terminate your employment without notice – for example, if the employer has not paid a salary for several months. If you give notice without sufficient cause, your employer can claim damages from you.


It is sufficient for your notice to state that you must terminate the employment relationship. The word “termination” does not necessarily have to appear. However, I recommend that you phrase the notice of termination as clearly as possible.
You also do not have to give a reason for the termination. Since no protection against dismissal applies to terminations by the employee, you do not need a special reason for a termination.

Blocking period

If you give notice yourself and consequently become unemployed, the Federal Employment Agency will impose a blocking period on you. This means that you will not receive unemployment benefits for a certain period of time because you caused your unemployment yourself.

You can prevent the blocking period if you have an important reason for giving notice. However, this usually leads to a lengthy dispute with the Federal Employment Agency. I recommend that you seek advice beforehand.

Reference letter

At the end of your employment relationship, you are entitled to a reference letter. The reference will help you when applying for a new job. It is best to ask for the reference letter when you hand in your notice. You can also offer to provide your employer with a draft reference letter.

Time off

If you are still entitled to leave or to compensatory time off at the time of your termination, you should take it during the notice period. It is only possible to pay out the leave if it has not been possible  to take it. You can already claim the leave in your letter of termination.