Changing jobs–this is how to do it without hassle

By Brigitte Gisel
Workers are in demand in many sectors. So, the chances of finding a new job that pays better and offers new perspectives are quite good. But if you want to change employers, you have to follow a few rules. You can’t quit from one day to the next. How quickly you can leave your old job to start somewhere else is regulated by labour law.
The notice periods that apply to employees are usually stated in the employment contract or the applicable collective agreement. The usual notice period is four weeks to the 15th of the month or to the end of the month. During the probationary period, the notice period is usually shorter; those who have worked in the same company for several years may have a longer notice period. The rules also apply to mini-jobbers. You can only give notice in writing. It is therefore not enough to tell the boss “I quit”; a notice of termination by e-mail, text message or fax is also not effective, according to the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB). The letter of termination must be delivered in the original. It is not necessary to give a reason for the termination. Both sides can only terminate the contract without notice if there is an important reason. The reason must be so serious that it is unreasonable to continue working until the end of the regular notice period.
So if you are looking for a new job, you should first look at your employment contract. All the important data for the employment relationship are recorded there. In addition to the start and duration of the employment, the type of work, the amount of pay, the working hours, the holiday and also the notice periods. The employment contract must also contain a reference to the applicable collective agreements and all other agreements that are important for the employment relationship.
If you work, you have a holiday entitlement that is not lost if you leave the company. Employees who work until 30 June are entitled to the full annual leave. If this cannot be taken, the employer must pay out the remaining days of leave. Those who stop working in the first half of the year are entitled to the pro rata holiday days. For example, with 30 days of holiday entitlement for the whole year, this would be 10 days if the employee resigned on 30 April.
Disputes sometimes also arise over the employer’s reference. According to the trade regulations, everyone who has worked in a company is entitled to a written reference. According to the DGB, employees can demand that their performance and conduct in the workplace be addressed in the reference. This is then a qualified reference. The employer alone decides how to formulate the reference. Nevertheless, if you are not satisfied with the reference, you can ask for changes. If you cannot reach an agreement, you can even take legal action before the labour court.
If you cannot manage on your own, you can get help. If the company has a works council, it is the first port of call. For workers from the EU, the DGB’s “Fair Mobility” advice centre (https://www.faire-mobilitaet.de/) is available in Stuttgart, among other places, to answer questions about labour law. Workers from outside the EU can find contacts at the advice centre “Mira – Mit Recht bei der Arbeit”. There is an advice centre in Stuttgart, but appointments can also be made in Tübingen: www.mira-beratung.de
Trade union membership offers extensive protection for workers. After three months of membership, you are entitled to free legal protection from the union. This means that you can get free legal advice in disputes about dismissal, warnings, working hours, continued payment of wages and references, among other things. There is a trade union responsible for each sector: in the retail sector, for example, the service company Verdi is responsible, in a metalworking company it is IG Metall.
Source: DGB-Bezirk Baden-Württemberg, www.bw.dgb.de
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Der Sitz von Deutschem Gewerkschaftsbund und IG Metall in Reutlingen. Foto: tünews INTERNATIONAL / Martin Klaus.

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