14. April 2016

Termination of employment - Part 2: Termination for reasons of conduct

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.

Termination for reasons of conduct

A termination on behavioral grounds is socially justified if the employee significantly and culpably violated a contractual obligation, if it cannot be guaranteed, that the conditions of the contract will be fulfilled properly in future and if the dissolution of the employment contract seems appropriate to the interests of both parties.

The following can principally be seen as grounds for termination:

– compromised performance (e.g. culpable insufficient performance)

– compromised trust (e.g. private telephone calls without permission)

– violations of company regulations (e.g. failure to observe existing smoking ban)

– violations of ancillary duties (e.g. failure to notify employer in case of incapacity due to illness)

Such termination generally is conditional on a prior relevant warning. This serves to objectify the negative prognosis. If such a warning has been given and the employee nevertheless violates his contractual obligations again, it can generally be assumed that further breaches of contract will occur in future.

In addition, the termination must be suitable, necessary and appropriate. Generally, the following need to be considered: the severity and impact of the breach of contract, the degree to which the employee is at fault, the possible risk of recurrence while taking into account any relevant warnings as well as the duration of the employment and the period of time worked without disturbances.

In the upcoming newsletter, we will inform you about the termination of employment on operational grounds.


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Julius Jacoby

Arbeitsrecht, Wirtschaftsrecht, Internationales Recht

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