Editorial

30 Aug 2021

Why Is A Notice Period Important?

Mary Isaeva

It can be a daunting situation when you decide that you want to leave your current job, be it for a new job, because you want to take a break – or you simply want a better opportunity.

When you signed the initial employment contract, you agreed to a range of legal requirements, including that you cannot leave a job without prior notice.

This means that you have to inform your employer about your decision to leave the job in writing.

The number of days between the submission of the resignation letter and the actual departure day is called a notice period.

This period starts when the employee submits the resignation letter or termination letter to the employer and ends on the day of departure.

Each employment contract will outline certain obligations – some offer shorter proper notice periods, while others have longer notice periods.

It will also tell you, the job seeker, what benefits, notice pay, or severance you may be entitled to.

With that in mind, let’s look at some of the standards you will see in an employment contract in terms of your proper notice period.

Importance Of A Notice Period

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PX-v8IihZc

Most of the time, job contracts state the number of days for a notice period. If it is not mentioned, then the employee must provide a notice period of at least one week.

The following are the advantages of providing a notice period:

Time To Search For New Employees

The company can start searching for new employees to fill out the vacant position left by the current employee. It ensures that the work handled by the current employee doesn’t get affected.

Search For A New Job

The notice period allows the leaving employees to start searching for another job or career path. It also ensures that the employee doesn’t remain unemployed after quitting their current job.

Distribution Of The Work

The current employer can distribute the work under the quitting employee among the other colleagues until they find another person for the same position.

The leaving employees can also start training their colleagues during the notice period to do their work. However, all of them have to do their current work too.

Being Mentally Prepared

The departure will be easy because everyone will be prepared mentally for the day.

The employee will be leaving in the kindest way possible and still maintain their professional contacts.

What Is The Standard Notice Period In Germany?

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During the interview and hiring process, you will have the opportunity to negotiate your job offer or contract with human resources.

Within that employment contract, you will have a section dedicated to the notice period and the acceptable forms of giving notice.

The notice period you are required to give will be related to your status within the company.

In Germany, you will be referred to as the following:

  • Angestellter: Full-time employee
  • Teilzeitbeschäftigter: Part-time employee
  • Freiberufler: Freelancer.

And you’re likely to have one of the following contracts of employment:

  • Unbefristeter vertrag: Permanent contract
  • Befristeter vertrag: Fixed-term contract.

The amount of notice you give will be related to your contract type and your position within the company. As such, the notice period will vary.

For example, a full-time employee with a permanent contract will have a notice period that looks like this:

  • Two years of employment requires one month of notice
  • Five years of employment will require two months of notice
  • Eight years will require three months of notice
  • Twelve years will require five months of notice.

The longer you work with a company, the longer your resignation period will be. If a business relationship terminates, the minimum notice period is four weeks.

While on probation or as a casual worker, you are typically required to give two weeks’ notice. For Managing Director roles and Board Members, the notice can be as long as one year.

Reasons For Quitting A Job

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49NrBDBYrpg

An employee may have several issues that make them quit a job. Some of them are as follows:

  • The employee finds it hard or far to travel to their workplace
  • The employee may wish to pursue higher education or change their career path
  • The employee cannot handle the responsibilities, work environment, or working hours
  • Personal conflicts exist between an employer and an employee.

Steps To Submit The Notice Period

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cU0a_YLK4tE

Submitting a notice period to the employer includes formality. The following are the steps to be taken while submitting the notice period:

Deciding On The Departure Date

The employee must provide a notice period of a minimum of two weeks. The additional notice must be in line with the employee’s responsibilities within the company.

The employee must also communicate with the new employer about their commencement date. The employee might also choose to have a gap between the two jobs.

A Talk With The Manager

The employee may meet the employer to inform them about the resignation. The employee must make an appointment with the manager, and they must not try to dive deep into the nitty-gritty details during this conversation.

The employee will have to mention the final date of employment, including other overall details.

Evaluating The Counteroffer

If an employee is in an important position, the company may offer another role or an increase in salary to the employee.

Thus, the employee must carefully think about the offer by analyzing all the factors and then making a confident decision.

Writing The Resignation Letter

This is a formal termination letter to be kept in a file and referred by the employer and HR department whenever needed. The resignation letter or the notice period must include the following information:

The Date Of Submission

It helps the employer to remember the date the employee submitted the notice. It proves to be important while following the detailed rules for the notice period.

Contact Information

This section includes the employee’s job title, full name, current address, email address, and a valid phone number.

About The Resignation

This portion must include the departure date from the company, the reason for leaving the company, and constructive feedback to the manager. However, the employee must be as polite as possible while writing this.

Thanking The Employer

This part should be kept short and sweet as the employee mentions the gratitude they have towards the company. The employee can also wish their colleagues and the company as a whole well.

Signature

This section includes the typed name of the employee and a physical signature.

Informing Other Colleagues

The employee may inform a handful of close employees about their resignation after submitting the resignation letter.

The employee must also start training their colleagues to deal with their work until the company hires a new employee for the same position. Similarly, guidelines must be made, and files must be organized for others to study.

Additional Duties

The employee must complete all their pending tasks and release any documentation.

They must also submit the company’s assets, such as a laptop, company phone, mouse, keys, books, ID, etc., and pay all the charges owed to the company.

Being Confident

Changing a job is a milestone that affects the resume and career of an individual. Thus, the employee must make the best decisions for themselves, while maintaining confidence in their decision to leave.

Exceptions For A Notice Period

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There are a few exceptions when the notice period doesn’t work. Some of them are:

  • The employee may quit their job immediately if there has been serious misconduct from the company’s side
  • The employer may terminate the employee immediately if the employee damages the company’s image, violates the policies of the company, or proves to be unproductive.

If An Employee Doesn’t Want To Work During Their Notice Period

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4E920MsSTx0

An employer cannot physically stop an employee from getting out of the building forever.

But, the employer may potentially sue the employee if they think the employment contract is being  breached. This can be due to the absence or violation of the employee’s notice period.

In this instance, the employer will have to present proof regarding the financial loss or other damages caused during the notice period.

The employer may also take the employee to court. If the employer wins the case, the employee might not be allowed to work anywhere else until the notice period ends.

However, it rarely happens when it comes to employees working in lower-level positions.

And the chances of getting sued depends on the company and the impact of violating the notice period on the company.

Working Somewhere Else During The Notice Period

Working somewhere else might also be considered a breach of contract, and the employer can take legal actions against the employee.

The employer may prove that the employee left to work for a competitor, or the employee possesses a threat to the secrets and goals of the company.

Can Employees ‘Negotiate Out’ Of Their Notice Period?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yde1FXWn8Hs

Since the employer is legally obligated to pay you during your notice period, you are legally obliged to work your entire contractual period.

However, since the notice period is designed for the protection of the employee, not the employer, you can still negotiate.

If you decide to hand in your notice, you can approach the company and discuss a leaving procedure. You may negotiate to take any leftover holiday days in the notice period, thus reducing it further.

It is always worth discussing what leaving the company might look like, as they may be willing to waive the notice period.

This agreement is called an Aufhebungsvertrag (notice of employment termination agreement). Both parties will then need to agree to the terms of the contract and when the employment ends.

Just be mindful that you will not be paid for any of the remaining notice, and you may be subject to a loss of benefits.

Can Employees Refuse To Work During Their Notice Period?

During the notice period, your obligations to the employer and their obligations to you remain unchanged.

It is important to note that the company is legally entitled to impose a blocking period during the notice period, if employment is terminated (for whatever reason).

A blocking period means that the former employee cannot receive unemployment benefits for a set period of time.

Do Employees Have To Be Paid During Their Notice Period?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PpwL-EpdPk

As mentioned earlier, during your notice period and after resigning, you will continue to perform the same duties, and your employer is required to continue to pay you for the work you do.

You are entitled to your regular payments until the last day of work. Unless it is clearly stated within the employment contract that the employer can reduce pay, you are entitled to full payment for the entire length of time.

What Happens if There’s a Dispute About Notice Pay?

There are sometimes going to be disputes when employment termination and notice periods arise.

German employment law doesn’t have provisions for the notice of termination of the employment relationship in return for severance pay.

So, in this case, there is no legal entitlement to severance pay, unless you fall under one of these categories:

  • The employment contract states you are entitled to severance pay
  • The agreement between you, your trade union, and the employer has a severance pay option
  • You have a severance scheme within the company
  • If you received a formal letter of dismissal or a termination letter from the company that names an amount you will be entitled to.

It’s important to remember that much like severance pay, German employment law doesn’t recognize ‘pay in lieu of notice’.

You can contest the notice pay or severance you are offered. You will, however, be required to file a dismissal protection lawsuit.

But if you don’t challenge the payment in a specific time period, then you might lose the ability to claim severance at all.

It is an excellent idea to let professionals take over here, as you may receive four gross monthly salaries per year of employment through a successful negotiation.

How Much Is Notice Pay?

During a reasonable notice period, the amount you get paid will remain unchanged unless there are disputes and complications within the termination process.

For the duration of your notice period, you will receive your entire regular monthly wage.

Do’s and Don’ts During Your Notice Period

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGBLZ03RDd8

1. Do: Know Your Contract

When you are at the interview stage, it is very important to be honest about your notice period. You must also not make any false promises that you can start on a certain date when in reality, you are not 100% sure.

It is imperative that you start on the right foot with your new employer, so make sure you know exactly how long your notice period is.

Beyond just your reasonable notice period, many contracts of employment will also contain post-termination restrictions.

These may hamper where you can work, including what clients you can or cannot take with you. It is important you know what your contract contains.

2. Don't: Think That Money Is Everything

It is widely recognized that the vast majority of people do not wish to move jobs solely because of money.

Professionals change roles for a plethora of reasons –flexibility, better benefits, or progression opportunities, to name just a few. So, then why are monetary counteroffers so prevalent and quite often taken?

If you find yourself with a counteroffer from your present employer, always ask yourself: “Why has it taken until now for them to offer me a higher salary?”

You may be drawn in by the extra money and feel tempted to accept the counteroffer.

But remember, research has shown that 85% of people who stay with their present company – when presented with a higher salary – leave within the next calendar year.

The money may change, but the job will very much stay the same.

3. Do: Consider The Viewpoint Of Your Employer

You must take into account that your employer may be surprised or upset at you leaving, not to mention the possible headaches involved with hiring your replacement.

Although the last thing that they will want is an uncommitted employee staying around for too long, this must also be balanced on not leaving a team understaffed.

The more help that you give at this point will potentially result in your notice period being reduced.

This could include suggestions about sourcing your replacement, detailed and thorough handover notes being put together, and even assisting in writing the job description for your role.

If life is made difficult for you during your notice period, then take it as a compliment – it suggests your boss really does not want you to leave.

4. Do: Be Honest In Your Exit Interview

Your employer is likely to arrange an exit interview to find out why you are leaving. They do this to improve their retention rates and gather insight into the perceptions of their culture.

Try to offer constructive advice and be honest and kind. Remember, you never know when you are going to cross paths with former employees in the future, so professionalism to the end, no matter the situation, is a must.

5. Don’t: Brag About Your New Job

You might be bursting to talk about all the generous perks and cool benefits of your new job, but resist, you must.

It’s important for you to keep the office energy positive and warm to minimize disruption during this transition period.

6. Do: Say Your Goodbyes

To leave on a positive note, make sure you have time for a round of proper goodbyes to all those you’ve worked with during your tenure there.

Express your appreciation of their support and guidance, apologize for all the times you were difficult, and exchange contact details. In short, observe the niceties. You’ll feel better about it.

7. Don’t: Think You’re On A Holiday

You might find yourself with a lighter workload during your final weeks, but it doesn’t mean you should spend your workday watching cat videos on YouTube or posting selfies on social media.

Make yourself useful. Ask your boss and team members what you can do to help out. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness and team spirit.

8. Do: Focus On Tying Up Any Loose Ends

Your priority should be on wrapping up active projects and doing a proper handover of ongoing projects or tasks.

Don’t leave things until the last day (or minute). Leaving with a clean desk, with outstanding matters in good hands, shows your concern for the company – despite not working there anymore.

Conclusion

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clXIGaXkycA

It’s a small world out there, and with the widespread use of websites such as LinkedIn, it’s getting much smaller.

It is therefore not advisable to drop the ball in terms of your behavior as soon as you resign from a role – no matter what you think of your employer.

These are our tips on resigning gracefully and ensuring that your final weeks with your employer help you in the long run rather than hinder your career forever.

But before you hand in your resignation or termination letter, you must take the time to read your current employment contract.

By doing your research, you will understand what you can expect from your new employer and what they will expect from you during a reasonable notice period.

This is so that on your last working day, you can walk away from your old employer on good terms and into your new role knowing that you did everything by the book.

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