Termination without cause – what can you do as an employee?

Termination without cause

Can an employer give notice of termination without cause? The legal situation in Germany stipulates that the employer does not always have to provide an explicit reason for the termination. We explain in which cases a “dismissal without cause” is legally possible and when a well-founded reason is legally required for the termination of an employment relationship.

free consultation lawyer germany
Free initial consultation with a specialist lawyer
  • Free initial consultation with a lawyer
  • Quick callback after 1 to 2 hours
  • Strategy for negotiating the severance pay

Free initial consultation

What are the grounds for termination under German labour law?

In the context of dismissals under labour law, there are various reasons that can justify the termination of an employment relationship. Each type of dismissal has specific requirements that must be met.

  • In the case of termination for behavioural reasons, the employee’s misbehaviour is the decisive factor. Such undesirable behaviour can take various forms – from continuous refusal to work to timekeeping fraud and late arrival at work. Offences against the working atmosphere and company ethics, such as workplace bullying, sexual harassment or discrimination, are also serious.
  • Dismissal for personal reasons, on the other hand, is not based on the employee’s behaviour, but on their personal characteristics or circumstances that impair their ability to work. These include long-term or chronic illnesses that interfere with the performance of work, or the loss of qualifications or requirements that are essential for the job, such as a driving licence for professional drivers.
  • In contrast, dismissal for operational reasons is based on economic or structural company decisions. This can be the closure of company branches, falling order numbers or the need to reduce staff. External influences such as economic recessions or the expiry of subsidies are also possible causes. In these cases, the reason for the dismissal lies in the economic or organisational needs of the company and is not the fault of the employee.

In each of these cases, it is advisable for companies to ensure precise documentation and legally sound procedures in order to guarantee the legality of the dismissal. It is crucial for employees to know their rights and to seek legal advice in the event of uncertainties in order to protect their interests.

AdobeStock_157502998.jpeg
Calculate severance pay now free of charge
  • Calculate potential severance payment amount
  • Strategy for negotiating a fair severance payment
  • Find suitable lawyers for labour law

Check severance pay

How can an employee be dismissed without cause?

If the Dismissal Protection Act (KSchG) applies, the employer is generally required to give a reason for the dismissal. However, not every employee enjoys this protection, so there are exceptions where “dismissal without cause” is legal.

  • One of the exceptions applies to small businesses, i.e. companies with fewer than ten full-time equivalent employees. In this case, the employer can give notice of termination without stating a reason.
  • Furthermore, during the probationary period, which can last up to six months, dismissal is possible without stating a reason. The Dismissal Protection Act is not yet applicable during this period.

The situation is different in the case of termination without notice: Here, a reason is mandatory, as it may only be given if there is good cause. This requirement applies regardless of the size of the company and the length of service – with one exception. During the probationary period in a vocational training relationship, termination without notice can also be given without cause for special reasons. After the end of the probationary period, however, good cause is required to terminate the training contract without notice.

Calculate your severance payment

Calculate the settlement amount for your individual case in 2 minutes

Check severance pay

Termination letter received without a reason?

A letter of termination without stating a reason can still lead to an effective termination under certain circumstances, as Section 623 of the German Civil Code (BGB) only requires a written form and a handwritten signature for the notice of termination – according to the legal text, an explicit reason for termination does not necessarily have to be part of the letter. Although a letter of termination without a reason is generally valid, other labour law regulations oblige the employer to state a reason under certain circumstances.

As a rule, the employer must have a recognised legal basis for a proper and legally valid dismissal; this applies to both extraordinary dismissals (without notice) and ordinary dismissals. However, there are specific cases in which the law requires that the reason for termination be clearly stated in the letter:

  • In the case of termination after the probationary period in a training relationship, the employer is required to state the reason for termination in the letter.
  • If an employee is dismissed during maternity leave, the employer must state the reason for dismissal in accordance with Section 9 (3) sentence 2 of the Maternity Protection Act (MuSchG).
  • In the case of dismissals for operational reasons where the employee is offered severance pay in return for waiving an action for protection against dismissal, the reason “urgent operational requirements” must be mentioned in the letter of dismissal.

As no reason for dismissal has to be stated in an extraordinary dismissal (without notice), the employee concerned has the right to demand written notification of the reason for dismissal from the employer in the event of such a dismissal without cause. This requirement serves to protect the rights of the employee and enables him to have the legality of the dismissal reviewed.

free consultation lawyer germany
Free initial consultation with a specialist lawyer
  • Free initial consultation with a lawyer
  • Quick callback after 1 to 2 hours
  • Strategy for negotiating the severance pay

Free initial consultation

All information on our website is of an editorial nature and expressly does not constitute legal advice. Naturally, we have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and links contained on this website. Nevertheless, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information. It is in no way a substitute for legal advice from a lawyer.