Lost your job in Germany? Here’s how to pick yourself up and get paid what you’re owed.

Losing a job is often a stressful, worrying experience. It can be even more so when you’re in a foreign country, with little understanding of what to do next.

Lost your job in Germany? Here's how to pick yourself up and get paid what you're owed.

Together with legal tech firm CONNY, we tell you how to survive losing your job in Germany, and how you can ensure that you receive what you’re entitled to.

Don’t panic

There are a hundred reasons why we might find ourselves out of work – from a culture fit, to workplace financial pressures. Rather than a reflection of our worth, sometimes things just don’t pan out. While German labour law recognizes this, there are strict protections for workers regarding the termination of employment – these will come into play soon enough.

First, just breathe. Take some time to reflect and decompress. The experience of losing a job can impact your health and it’s a good idea to ensure that a bad situation isn’t made worse with illness. Looking after yourself is key, and a good investment in what will come next.

Feel like you have been unfairly dismissed by a firm in Germany? Use CONNY’s Termination Checker to see whether you could receive a severance payment.

Be proactive

Germans do love their bureaucracy, and as with all aspects of life, there are certain responsibilities for those whose employment is terminated.

First, you’re going to have to register for unemployment benefits, or Arbeitslosengeld (literally ‘Work-loss-money’). You are entitled to this as someone who has paid into unemployment insurance. How much you receive will depend on how long you paid into the system, but the minimum is six months.

You have three months prior to your notice period ending to register with the Agentur fur Arbeit (Federal Employment Agency). If you find yourself suddenly terminated without a notice period, you only have three days to register, with your termination notice, unless you want to miss out on a week’s payment.

Registering for unemployment is a relatively painless process, compared to other nations. You can either visit the Agentur fur Arbeit website, or call +49 800 4 555 500. English-speaking operators are available. We do not currently recommend visiting an office in person, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Claim what you’re owed

As mentioned before, there are strict protections against unlawful termination of employment in Germany. Even so, many employers aren’t aware of all the intricacies of the law. This means that people often find themselves unlawfully terminated, and may be entitled to a severance payment, usually a multiple of your months employed.

If terminated, you could employ your own lawyer to fight your case, but who has the time and resources for that? This is why CONNY is such a fantastic resource for expats. A legal tech startup that focuses on labour, tenancy and telecommunications law, CONNY makes it easy for working expats to have their case heard and receive a generous payout.

The process is easy. If you find yourself terminated, you can use CONNY’s Termination Check to see whether you have grounds for a severance payment. This only takes around three minutes. If so, you can then speak to a lawyer, without financial risk, who can move your case forward, without you having to do anything else. Depending on how long you worked for your employer, you could then be in line for a significant payment, giving you time and space to find a better, more fulfilling job. You only pay a commission to CONNY if you are successful, meaning there is no risk to you!

For peace of mind, you can also take up ‘CONNYcare’. For only one euro a month, you have your personal specialist at CONNY who helps you with all labour law related questions. Moreover, you get a free consultation by a lawyer in case of a dismissal and a 25% discount on CONNY’s labour law services.

Think you were recently dismissed unfairly? Looking to protect yourself in the event of termination? Visit Conny Legal and find out how you can be protected in the event of an unfair dismissal. You can also use CONNY’s severance pay calculator to see how much you may be owed, below.

Member comments

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For members


Living in Germany: Skilled worker shortage getting worse, Bundestag dome mix-up and beer culture

In this week's roundup we talk about the growing issue of Germany's worker shortage, an embarrassing political mix-up involving the Bundestag dome and the significance of German beer culture.

Living in Germany: Skilled worker shortage getting worse, Bundestag dome mix-up and beer culture

Living in Germany is our weekly look at some of the news and talking points in Germany that you might not have heard about. Members can receive it directly to their inbox on Saturday.

Skilled worker shortage in Germany laid bare in new report

We published a story this week on a survey that shone a light on Germany’s recruitment problems. The latest ifo Business Survey, which keeps in touch with around 9,000 companies throughout Germany, found that the need for skilled workers is going up. According to the survey results, 43.1 percent of firms reported suffering from a shortage of qualified workers in July, up from 42.2 percent in April 2023. The situation will only get worse in future. The main issue is demographics – many people are leaving or are due to leave the workforce to retire – but not enough people are joining it. The Institute for Employment Research (IAB) calculated that the labour market is at risk of losing seven million people in Germany to retirement by 2035. 

To combat this, the German government has been working on an overhaul of immigration laws to make it easier for people to come to the country and work, as The Local has extensively reported on. Experts say the focus has to be on nations from outside of Europe because nearby countries, like Spain, Italy and France, are facing similar demographic issues. Meanwhile, in countries where traditionally people have moved to Germany for work – such as Poland and the Czech Republic – the labour market situation has improved, making emigration less of an attractive option. But Germany can’t just rely on immigration; more has to be done to get residents into the workforce. One way of doing that is to make work more attractive, whether it’s offering better pay or more perks.. A new initiative testing out a four-day work week in Germany could offer up a solution. Whatever the case, Germany will need to take action now to prevent a crisis in the future.

Tweet of the week

The opposition Christian Democrats (CDU) were left red-faced this week after they accidentally used an image of the Georgian palace instead of the German Bundestag in their new logo. The party then released a tweet poking fun at themselves, saying: “We had a lot of domes to choose from and have now picked the only right one.” 

Where is this?


Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Karmann

Perhaps you recognise the architecture in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg in this photo. And if you look closely, you’ll spot workers trying to salvage a 100-year-old poplar tree that fell into the Pegnitz river on Wednesday night. No one was injured and there was no damage to the surrounding buildings including the Maximillian Bridge. The tree was a popular Nuremberg landmark. According to the city, these types of poplars can live for around 100 to 120 years. As they age, they become brittle and can break during storms.

Did you know?

Germans love their beer – and rightly so because it is delicious. But did you know how embedded beer culture is in Germany? Christina Schönberger, a brewing engineer at Nuremberg-based BarthHaas, a Hops supplier to brewers, told the Germany in Focus podcast recently that beer has been “an integral part of German culture for many centuries”. But she pointed out that there have been big changes over the years brought about by different influences. 

Germany still has many family-owned mid-size breweries in operation, as well as larger companies. “A big part of the family-owned companies date back to the 18-and-1900s where the possibility was given to basically, in an industrial fashion, produce bottom fermented beers (such as pilsner and lager)  – that’s when a lot of breweries opened up,” said Schönberger. “We also still have a couple of breweries that go back to the 10th, 11th or 12th centuries from monasteries where there were a lot of monks involved in brewing in a religious context.”

Schönberger said it’s only in the last 200-300 years that wheat beers emerged into the culture. There have been “a lot of influences throughout the centuries that brought beer to the level of cultural importance that it has today,” she said. Meanwhile, beer experts are noticing a change in trends, with more Germans drinking alcohol-free beer. “I think it’s very good because alcohol is actually the only part of beer that doesn’t make beer a super healthy drink,” said Schönberger.