Legally valid notice of termination – the right wording and delivery
The right of termination is a complicated matter. Mistakes can quickly happen when your boss z.B. must give notice of termination for operational reasons. In order to avoid mistakes, a legally correct procedure is particularly important here.
Tip: If in doubt, however, you should always seek the advice of a specialist lawyer. Then you are guaranteed not to risk a mistake in the process or in a formulation that could cost your company dearly.
The letter of termination: How to formulate it correctly
- Consider: A letter of termination does not have to be unkind just because it is an unpleasant occasion.
- Therefore: Formulate in a matter-of-fact, but friendly manner.
Especially in the case of a termination for operational reasons, you can say a few words about the business situation in your termination letter.
Because: Perhaps there had already been rumors in the past or other colleagues had already received their letter of termination.
You know that termination law is a complicated matter – mistakes can easily be made when giving notice of termination, which can be expensive if a dispute arises before an employment tribunal. Read an extra tip for legally valid termination letters here and avoid unnecessary trouble.
Avoid these wording mistakes in your termination letters
- Wording: "Herewith we terminate your employment as of . "
- Reason: Also for termination letter applies what applies to other correspondence: If not with this, with what else?
- Wording: "We regret this step, which is unavoidable for us, and wish you all the best for the future."
- The reason: This sounds very trite and not very serious.
- Wording: "Respectfully"
- The reason: This dusty phrase has no place in a letter of termination either.
Also inappropriate are very sweeping greetings such as:
- "sunny greetings"
- "Kind regards from Maximilianstrasse"
The greeting at the end of the termination letter is particularly tricky. Now say goodbye with a "friendly greeting" or is this inappropriate in a letter of termination? Here’s how to know if you should use a closing salutation, and if so, what it should be.
The reason for dismissal – Do you have to give reasons for the dismissal in the letter??
The answer: The termination does not have to be justified in the termination letter.
This applies even if the Protection Against Dismissal Act applies to the employment relationship, i.e. the employee enjoys protection against dismissal.
The exception: In the case of a lawsuit, you must give reasons
If the employee brings an action for protection against dismissal when protection against dismissal exists, the employer must justify the dismissal to the labor court and prove the existence of a recognized reason for dismissal.
Tip: Have your letter of termination checked
- If in doubt, it is definitely worth having the termination letter checked by specialized lawyers. Before you throw a lot of money out the window for a hopeless lawsuit due to a formal error.
Signature: Who must sign the termination letter?
The signature is also important. You should pay attention to this:
- It is not sufficient to hand over a copy.
- The termination letter must be signed by the correct person.
- The undersigned must be "entitled to quit" his.
"Authorized to terminate" – Who may sign a letter of termination?
Normally, these are only the legal representatives, i.e. z. B. the managing directors with the GmbH, the executive committees with the AG.
- In a GbR all partners must sign the letter of termination!
- However, the signature of the personnel manager is also sufficient if it is generally known in the company that they are authorized to give notice of termination.
If no legal representative has signed, the notice can be rejected immediately in accordance with § 174 BGB in case of doubt.
Sample letter of termination
XXXXX sample village
Dear Mr. Muster,
we terminate the employment relationship existing between us with effect from XX.XX.200X; alternatively at the next permissible date.
As a precautionary measure, I would like to point out that, in order to avoid a reduction in your entitlement to unemployment benefits, it is essential to register personally with the Employment Agency as soon as you are aware of the date of termination.
With best regards
By the way: If you do not want to terminate an employee but only a contract or subscription, you can find a sample letter here, which you can adapt to your individual needs.
The delivery of the termination letter
Important: According to § 623 of the German Civil Code (BGB), termination of the employment relationship is not possible orally, but only in writing.
If the employer has given the employee a letter of termination – preferably in front of witnesses – that is sufficient. The employee does not have to read it. It is therefore of no use to refuse acceptance or to tear up the letter of termination immediately without reading it. Also then one has received the notice of dismissal formally.
How to hand over a termination letter in a legally secure manner
If you are the one who has to hand over the letter of termination to the employee, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Even if this step is certainly inconvenient for you, you should not hand over the letter of termination between door and window. Look for a place as undisturbed as possible. Depending on how the employee takes the dismissal, not all other colleagues should notice it.
- Remain friendly but factual when handing over the termination letter. This will help you and the employee to cope better with this difficult situation.
- As far as possible, offer the employee help and support.
- Call in a colleague who is a friend if you have the impression that the employee needs support. You may also offer to take the day off and send him home.
- If you have a works council in your company, you can ask a member to accompany you when you hand over the termination letter. If the employee has questions, he has a direct contact person. In addition, you make it clear that the dismissal was made with the knowledge of the works council.
- In any case, have the handover of the letter of termination confirmed immediately. A simple acknowledgement of receipt is sufficient.
Delivering notice by mail – make sure it is delivered securely
It is more difficult if the employer tries to deliver the termination letter to the employee at home. There is a widespread rumor that registered mail/return receipt is the safest method of delivery – however, this is incorrect.
This is how you ensure safe delivery of the termination letter
- The safest way is to deliver the termination letter by bailiff or messenger (witness).
- Even a registered letter is more secure than the popular registered letter with advice of receipt. The recipient of the registered letter is not obliged to collect the registered letter from the post office if it has been deposited there.
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