Employment References & Certificates

Job references

Employees and freelance employees are entitled to a certificate called in Germany “Zeugnis”.

The prerequisite is a permanent employment relationship so that the assessor has enough time to recognize the professional and personal qualities of the employee.

Person entitled to issue the reference certificate „Zeugnis“

 The only person entitled to issue the reference certificate is the employer, but a superior of the employee can also take the assessment. Exhibitor of the certificate is the employer, but a superior of the employee can also take the assessment. It is important that the assessor is instructed to do so from the employer.  The “grade” of the assessor is recorded in the certificate. External persons are not allowed to issue certificates of work reference. If an insolvency administrator continues to employ an employee, he must issue a certificate. In the case of the death of the company owner the duty to create a reference certificate will be inherited. The person inheriting the business must write a certificate from the records.  

When are you going to receive your “Zeugnis” in Germany?

The right to receive a reference certificate begins with the notice of termination period. Legally the claim to a reference certificate actually arises with the official end of the employment relationship, i.e. on the last working day. Usually, the employee can already apply for his/her certificate beforehand with his/her ordinary dismissal. The reference certificate will be used for new applications as the employee has to be facilitated in finding another job for further employers.

Issuing the reference certificate

The employee must collect the reference certificate from the employer. If the certificate is not yet ready by the end of the employment relationship, the employer must send it per post/email to the employee. The employer has to pay the costs.