17. March 2016

Termination of employment - Part 1: Termination on personal grounds

In German employment law, an employer may terminate an employment contract only under strict conditions. If the employment has lasted for more than six months and the company employs more than ten workers, a termination is only effective if it is socially justified, that is, if the termination is based on behavioral, personal or operational grounds.

A termination on personal grounds is justified if the employee - through no fault of his own - is unable to do the work expected of him in future because his personal abilities or qualities are no longer sufficient. The termination on personal grounds is mainly used in cases of illness.

Any termination due to illness requires the negative prognosis at the time of termination that the illness will affect the employment relationship and operations in future. If the conclusion is reached that the employers’ interest in terminating the employee’s position outweighs the employee’s interest in continued employment and no reasonable possibility of continued employment in the company can be found, the termination on personal grounds is justified.

The termination of employment due to illness applies to:

  • long-term illnesses or permanent incapacity to work
  • frequent shorter illnesses
  • reduced performance due to illness

Addictions are special cases of the termination of employment due to illness.

Other reasons for termination on personal grounds include: serving a prison sentence, being prohibited from working (e.g. in the absence of a work permit for non-EU citizens) or the unsuitability of the employee for the contractually agreed work.

We will inform you about terminations of employment on behavioral and on operational grounds in upcoming issues.


Dagmar Cassan

Leiterin Verbindungsbüro New York

+1 (0)212-969-9015
Dagmar Cassan