Before changing jobs, the employee faces an unpleasant task: terminating the old job. Only this formal step terminates the employment relationship – and not only when employees want to leave themselves, but also when they are dismissed by their bosses.
However, both parties should pay attention to how they formulate a notice of termination and how best to communicate it. Because no mistakes should be made or room for interpretation left in the process. In the worst case, this can even lead to the termination being invalid and the employment relationship not being terminated.
What contractual partners need to keep in mind?
Career consultant Nina Richter sees particular relevance in the form of the notice: "It is the be-all and end-all to give notice in writing and to sign the document by hand," she says. "Under no circumstances should notice of termination be given verbally, by e-mail, SMS, WhatsApp or fax." So the dismissal is ineffective.
In addition, it is important to avoid the subjunctive mood. Ideally, the letter should be worded as clearly and concisely as possible.
Nina Richter is a freelance coach and lives in Cologne. With her company, Nina Richter Coaching, she accompanies people in career upheaval situations and reorientation phases. She also advises on communication between managers and employees and is an expert in stress and burnout prevention.
Photo: Seenbeautythere Photography
Should I inform my boss in advance about the impending termination??
According to Richter, whether the employee should seek a discussion with his or her supervisor before submitting the notice of termination depends on the relationship: "If the employee has a pleasant working relationship with his or her employer, a personal discussion before or shortly after submitting the official notice of termination is part of good manners."
When deciding to inform the boss beforehand, it should be taken into account that the person quitting will still have to work in the company for some time before leaving. "This can certainly strengthen the togetherness. It also gives the employer a chance to find a suitable successor and ensure that you are trained," she says. However, the official letter is not replaced by it.
To whom should I address the notice?
Before giving notice, employees should find out in advance to whom they are addressing the letter, the career counselor says. In general, the recipient of the notice of termination is always the employer, as stated in the employment contract. "But to be on the safe side, he can address the letter to both the boss and the or the head of HR," she says.
But depending on the structure of the company, this could also be different: "If there is no personnel department, then the salutation should be addressed to the direct boss as well as to the employer or managing director."
Is the formulation "at the next possible date" in the notice of termination sufficient??
According to Richter, a resignation date should be included in the notice in any case. Not stating it is not recommended, according to her, but can certainly be done. "In principle, the employee can also write the wording ‘at the next possible time’ in the notice, if he is unsure about the notice period."However, it is better for the employee to check again in the employment contract or ask the works council on what date he or she can leave the company.
In any case, she says, it’s important to get confirmation of the date given.
Do I formally address the person being dismissed, even if you are on first-name terms in everyday working life??
Even if you are otherwise on first name terms: In the notice of termination, the "you" should always be used. Richter points out for a reason: "After all, this is a legal document. If there should be difficulties with the departure of the coworker, it can go yes also before court."A "you" does not invalidate the notice, but the form should still be observed at this point.
How does it behave with a thank you note in a notice of termination??
Nina Richter advises to keep the notice as simple as possible and to refrain from thanking the employee: "I don’t think that’s necessary," she says. In fact, however, they would write many nevertheless in the document. "A farewell there is yes probably still in other form, with which appreciation and thanks can be attached", so judge. Otherwise, a face-to-face meeting is also an appropriate time to thank supervisors, he said.
Should I ask directly for a reference?
The request for a reference should be a fixed component of a notice of termination, according to Richter. This is usually formulated in the last paragraph.
Do I have to write a reason in the notice of termination??
An employee does not have to give a reason for an ordinary termination, says Richter. According to the career advisor, if employees are seeking to terminate their employment for cause or without notice, they should seek advice on employment law beforehand. It must be clarified whether this is at all possible in the special case and whether the reasons would be sufficient. In addition, it is thus clarified which steps and which form must be observed.
According to Richter, however, the same does not only apply to employees: "Employers should also seek advice before issuing an ordinary as well as an extraordinary notice of termination." Here much more must be considered with a legally effective notice of termination, says Richter.
Do I hand in the notice personally or do I send it??
A personally submitted resignation letter is always the best option, according to Richter. "Then the submission date is the same as the receipt date."This is important because the date on which the notice of termination was received always applies, not the date on which the notice of termination was dated. "That’s even if it arrives later than expected through the mail," Richter says. In addition, the employee should always have it put in writing that the letter has been received.
What do employers have to pay attention to when giving notice?
If an employer wants to dismiss an employee, according to the judge, this dismissal must also be in writing. The notice of termination must also be signed by someone who is also authorized to give notice. "This is usually the employer himself, the personnel manager or managing director," she says. "If a law firm or an employee represents the employer, the power of attorney document must be presented to the person being terminated."Otherwise, the employee can reject the notice of termination. After all, no boss should be able to give notice in the heat of the moment.
Tips for the correct termination
A notice of termination must be in writing (not by e-mail, fax or SMS) and be handwritten signature
It should not be formulated in the subjunctive mood
The employer listed in the employment contract should be mentioned in the salutation
The person quitting should find out in advance about the possible date of departure
In the notice of termination, the contact person must always be addressed in a formal manner
The notice of termination is best delivered in person
Confirmation should be obtained of the receipt of the notice of termination and the date of departure