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Created on 06.05.2019

“I quit” – how to give notice properly

Is your job not quite what you expected? Does a new opportunity beckon? Or perhaps a round-the-world trip? Sometimes it’s just time for a change, to leave your old job behind and to start something new. But before you make such a crucial decision, there are a few things you need to bear in mind as an employee. These five tips will make sure you are well and truly ready to take the plunge.

Read your employment contract carefully

Whether it’s your employer terminating your contract or you handing in your notice, it’s important to know your employment contract inside and out. So, study it in detail – before you start drafting your written notice. Even if you don’t yet have a new employer, one piece of information is key: how long is the notice period? Your notice period may vary depending on whether you have a fixed-term contract or if you decide to give notice during your probation period. Statutory regulations stipulate a notice period of a month, though most employers set it at three months. Another crucial point is the date you have to give notice by. Remember: it is not the last day of the month for all companies. Don’t wait until the last minute, either. Instead, hand in your notice a few days in advance.

Resign without giving notice only in exceptional circumstances

A special case is termination without notice: it is not just your employer who can terminate your contract without notice – as an employee, you can, too. However, an employee needs to have very good grounds to be able to lawfully resign without giving notice. This might be because of the employer’s repeated failure to make salary payments, despite written warnings from the employee. Privacy breaches or a failure on the part of the employer to fulfil its duty of care can also be good grounds for resigning without giving notice. This includes situations where an employee has been deprived of their responsibilities or demoted without cause, where the company has tolerated bullying or sexual harassment , or where the company has asked its employees to engage in illegal activities.

Play by the rules: keep a written record of your termination

Legally speaking, ordinary termination of a contract does not necessarily need to be given in writing. Unless the employment contract stipulates otherwise, notice can also be given orally. However, a written document has benefits for both the employee and the employer. In difficult circumstances, such as extraordinary terminations, termination during the probation period or in the event of a termination agreement, giving written notice is a safe bet. This is because you will have a document that you can rely on in court in the worst-case scenario. 

Make sure you have financial reserves

Can you really afford to give notice? This is a question that employees should especially ask themselves if they are giving notice without a new job in the pipeline. Before you give notice, make sure you have enough reserves for contingencies, and get a good idea of your ongoing costs and any expenses that might arise. Find out more in the article “How to prepare for financial shortages”.

In this respect, the timing of your resignation is also important. It can make a huge financial difference and may prove highly beneficial to the employee. If you decide to leave in the middle of the year, for instance, any bonuses or the 13th month of your salary will only be partially paid out. It’s worthwhile waiting for the right moment to ensure that you can reap the financial rewards. It is also wise to first see whether you might be in line for a promotion or a pay rise, so it might be a very good idea to wait for your yearly appraisal before giving notice.

Think about your expenses as well when it comes to timing your departure. Are you expecting a big bill at home, such as a tax bill, a radio/TV licence bill, an energy bill or a doctor’s bill? If so, it might be an idea to stay put in your job for just a little longer. 

Think about your “suspension days”

Have you ever heard of “suspension days”? These are definitely something you ought to find out about if you are planning to quit your job without starting a new one right away. When an employee quits or is sacked, they are not immediately entitled to unemployment benefits. In these instances, the regional employment center will only start paying unemployment benefits after a certain period of time, known as “suspension days”. They are counted in working days, i.e. five days a week. Depending on your situation, you could be facing anything up to 60 suspension days. So, don’t rely exclusively on being covered by the State as soon as you’re out of work. Make sure you have decent financial reserves before you hand in your notice. Register with your regional employment center to find out about your suspension days. You can then reflect upon how intensively you have been looking for work during your notice period. The more effort you have put into looking for a job, the fewer suspension days you will have (and vice versa).

Quitting is easy, but resigning from a secure job can be a risky move. That’s why employees should make sure they know their rights and have enough of a nest egg to enable them to quit. Ideally of course, you should only hand in your notice if you have already found a new employer. 

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