Reference certificate free sample

Reference certificate

Personal data and length of employment relationship
Job Description
Workplace, position and competencies of the employee

Performance Evaluation

Mrs. … / Mr. … has always done the tasks assigned to him / her to our absolute satisfaction. (Very good)
Mrs. … / Mr. … has always done the tasks assigned to him / her to our full satisfaction. (Good)
Mrs. … / Mr. … has done the tasks assigned to him / her to our full satisfaction. (Satisfying)
Mrs. … / Mr. … has done the tasks assigned to him to our satisfaction. (Sufficient)

Behavioral assessment

His/Her behavior towards superiors and employees has always been exemplary. (Very good)
His / her behavior towards superiors and employees was exemplary. (Good)
His / her behavior towards superiors and employees was good. (Satisfying)
His / her behavior towards supervisors and employees gave no cause for complaint. (Sufficient)


We very much regret the departure and thank Mrs. … / Mr … for his/her constant very good services. (Very good)
We regret the departure and thank Mrs. … / Mr. … for his/her very good services. (Good)
We regret the departure and thank Mrs. … / Mr. … for good services. (Satisfying)
We thank Mrs. … / Mr. … for the cooperation. (Sufficient)


Warning letter under German labour law

Template This is only a template of a notice of warning and shall be modified and adapted to your situation and needs.



Notice of Warning


Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. <Surname>,

We unfortunately have to communicate you that we are aware of the following:

<Description of the misconduct>

By doing so, you have violated an obligation under the employment contract, <name / clause>. Your misconduct leads us to this notice of warning.

We hereby expressly inform you that we are not prepared to accept further breaches of duty.In case of another misconduct or illegal behavior, we will be ready to take further measures. These may even mean a termination of the employment relationship. We have sent you a draft of this warning letter in advance in order to give you the possibility to react to our accusations. You have made the following statement:  <Statement> Your explanation, however, does not change the fact. The breach of duty continues to exist for the following reason/-s:   <Reasons> A copy of this letter will be added to your personal file.

Kind Regards,


The Employer <Signature>

Employment references

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.

Holiday and leave entitlement in German labour law

The leave entitlement is regulated by the employment contract. The tariff regulations apply.

According to the German Federal Leave Act, an employee is entitled to at least four weeks’ leave per year. This is equivalent to 24 working days or 20 working days for a 5-days week.

However, the employee must first acquire his days off: he must be from six months in the employment relationship, and then he is entitled to his days off. During the first six months, he may apply for partial leave.

Differences between “working days” (Arbeitstagen) and “business days” (Werktagen)

Business days are all days that are not Sundays or Holidays. Working days are the days we worked on.

  • Business days = 6 days per week
  • Working days = 5 days per week

When can you take your days off?

The annual days of leave are to be taken within the current year. If an employee can not take his days off within the year, those days may be transferred to the following year. He has then to take those days in the first three months of the year, otherwise the leave entitlement will be forfeited.



The employee always has to apply for leave. If he takes days off without authorization, the employer has the right to terminate their employment relationship. If the employer refuses to authorize the days off, the employee can claim for compensation damages in Court.


Has your leave entitlement been denied? Contact one of our experts! We are here to help you!


Holidays and Sickness

If an employee is sick, the days he is not coming to work are not considered „holiday“. If he falls sick during his holidays, those days are not counted as „days off“: a medical certificate is required.

If the employee is not able to take his days off because of an illness, those days are going to expire.


Days off at the end of an Employment Relationship or during an exemption from work

 If the employment relationship is terminated before the holidays have been taken, the employer must pay for those days off. In the case of an exemption, the employer can not offset the “normal” leave to the employee on the exemption period. An exemption from work must not be considered as “holiday”!

Salary under German labour law (without minimum remuneration)

The amount of an employee´s wage (remuneration, salary) is agreed between the employee and the employer before the beginning of the employment. The earned income is stated in the employment contract. Otherwise the tariff or company regulations apply.

Holiday pay and Christmas bonuses

Holiday pays or Christmas bonuses are “gratifications” from the employer. These allowances depend on the past and future fidelity of the employer. If the employee, for example, terminates their employment relationship, he may have to repay a portion of the gratuities.T

he 13th monthly salary is a special payment that is intended to repay past performances. The employee receives the 13th monthly salary at the payout.

If there is a dispute about special remuneration in the event of a termination, you should have a lawyer examining your employment situation.

Public Holidays and sickness benefits

An employee is entitled to the payment of his remuneration if:

  • Due to a public holiday the normal working time can not be respected;
  • He/she is unable to work because of an illness/sickness (condition: the employment relationship must have been continuous for at least four weeks from the starting of the contract). The employee is entitled to sickness benefits from the employer for 6 weeks. After those 6 weeks, the health insurance company will take care of that.
  • He/she falls sick again with the same disease. He then has a new entitlement up to six weeks´ remuneration. (Condition: in between he may not have been sick for six months for the same disease or twelve months have elapsed since he was ill for the first time for the same disease).

Company car

In addition to the remuneration for the work, a “Naturalvergütung“ (remuneration for the natural person) can also be agreed.

A company car which the employee also uses for private purposes is such remuneration. The employee also has the right to use the car in the case of• continuation of wages,• illness or• exemption after termination.T

his applies, unless otherwise agreed. If the employer removes the company car from the contract, the employee is entitled to compensation against the employer.

Make sure to consult a lawyer for any further questions on this topic. We are here for you!Sala

Time limit of the employment contract

The employer may limit the employment contract to two years, in case of a new employment relationship.

Limitation Conditions

The following conditions must be respected for shorter time limits:

  • The company has only temporary needs for work.
  • The employee is hired following an education or study. This facilitates the transition to subsequent employments.
  • It is a place of representation (pregnancy or leave of absence)
  • The nature of the work performance justifies the time limit.
  • The time limit has been allowed.
  • Reasons in the person of the employee justifying a time limit.
  • The employee is remunerated from the budget. These are intended for fixed-term employment under budgetary law and the employment corresponds to his remuneration.
  • The term is based on a court settlement.
  • The employee is at least 58 years old on the first working day, i.e. at the beginning of the employment contract.
  • There was no previous employment relationship between the employee and the employer.


Form and content of a time-limited employment

The employer must stipulate the end of the employment contract in writing; otherwise the term will be ineffective.

Time limit

Within a period of three weeks, the employee has to react if he wants to appeal to this decision before the Labor Court (Arbeitsgericht). The three-week period begins with the end of the employment relationship. If he does not react during the three weeks, the term of his employment contract becomes effective.

Employment agreement

In an employment contract are formulated the rights and obligations of a working relationship between employer and employee.

The following points are important parts of an employment contract:

  • What? – Description of the tasks which the employer can assign to the employee
  • Where? – Definition of the place where the employee would work
  • When? – Determination of the working time of the worker
  • How long? – Information on the periods of notice and, possibly, on the expiration of the employment contract.

The employment contract is also subject to statutory, business and, where applicable, tariff regulations.

Have your employment contract examined by a lawyer; if you are an employer, make sure to let an attorney design your employment contracts for you! Existing employment contracts should also be regularly reviewed and updated or harmonized.

Working hours in Germany

Working hours and allowed breaks

When should you start working? How many breaks do you have? How long does your break last? How have your working hours been distributed throughout the whole week?

All those information will be provided to you in your contract of employment.

Daily working time

According to the Working Time Act (Arbeitszeitgesetz), the maximum working time per day is eight hours. This time can be extended to up to ten hours. Prerequisite: in six months (24 weeks) the average of your working hours should not exceed 8 hours a day.

Breaks and rest periods

According to the Arbeitszeitgesetz, the following breaks-settlements apply:


Working Hours Resting Time
From 6 Hours 30 Minutes
From 9 Hours 45 Minutes


The total resting time can be divided in small breaks: e.g. a 30-Minutes break can be divided in 2 breaks x 15-Min. each. There must be at least 11 hours rest period between two working days. Employees may not be working on Sundays and Holidays but exceptions are allowed.

Youth Protection

Pursuant to the Youth Health and Safety at Work Act (Jugendarbeitsschutzgesetz), young employees (under 18) are not allowed to work for more than eight hours a day (for a maximum of 40 hours a week). The employer has to allow underage workers to take days off in order to go to school, if it is the case.

For them, the following resting hours-list applies:

Working Hours Resting Time
From 4,5 Hours 30 Minutes
From 6 Hours 60 Minutes


Maternity leave

The following working times are not allowed to pregnant women:

  • Extra-hours
  • Night-shifts (8PM-6AM)

Working on Sundays and holidays.

Reasons for dismissal under German labour law

The reasons for a termination are divided in the following areas:

Grounds for dismissal: Extraordinary and immediate termination: Ordinary termination with period of notice
Notice of termination for reasons of conduct Special reasons are required With previous warnings
Dismissal on personal grounds With no warnings
Forced redundancies Operational circumstances are required

Notice of termination for reasons of conduct

Notices of termination for reasons of conduct are the result of employee’s misconduct. In the event of a breaching of the rules, the employer is first entitled to warn the employee. After repeated warnings, if the situation does not change, there are enough grounds for a dismissal.

As “misconduct” is intended:• Suspension from work taken without permission of the employer;• Failure to comply with operational smoking and alcohol bans;• Criticism to employers and superiors;• Unexcused absence;• Unpunctuality;• Calling sick and working elsewhere.

Did you know? An employee, who is proven to behave against the rules, must pay the estimated “detective” costs to him.

Dismissal on personal grounds

Dismissal on personal grounds depends on facts related with the person of the employee. These imply: • Lack of eligibility/qualification of the employee;• Lack of work permit;• Foreign military service of more than two months;• Serving of a custodial sentence;• Sickness/Illness of the employee:- Long-lasting disease- Frequent short-term diseases- Permanent incapacity for work- Performance reduction

Forced redundancies

Forced redundancies terminations are triggered by changes in the company:• In-house circumstances- Rationalization measures- Discontinuation or restriction of production• External conditions- Lack/shortage of orders- Decline in salesIf, despite the circumstances, the employer has the chance to take the employee to another place/area of the company, he may not terminate the contract.

When selecting the person to be dismissed, the employer must make a “social selection”(soziale Auswahl in German). The legislator requires that the termination is “socially justified”. Terminations that are contrary to the principle of good faith or are contrary to the law are ineffective. A forced redundancies termination is socially unjustified, if the employer in the selection of the employees to be dismissed: • is a senior (long period of employment),• is older• has maintenance obligations (severe disability or pregnancy).

Reasons for an extraordinary termination

There must be a special reason for an extraordinary termination. Here are some examples.

Reasons of extraordinary termination from the employer: 

  • Unjustified work-refusal
  • Xenophobic comments
  • Gross affront
  • Infectious, continuous or simulated illness
  • Sexual harassments or moral misconduct
  • Offences such expenses-account abuse or misappropriation of company funds
  • Willful bodily injury of colleagues, clients or superiors
  • Alcoholism
  • Taking unauthorized days off
  • False calculation of the working hours
  • Private phone-calls (after several warnings, quick phone-calls are allowed)
  • Surfing the net at workplace [See: Private Surfing at the workplace]
  • In case of suspicion of a serious job-related misconduct or a criminal offense which has a negative effect on the employment relationship.

Reasons of extraordinary termination from the employee: 

  • Arrears of wages (despite repeated warning)
  • Infringement of the contract, such as non-payment of agreed relocation costs
  • Reckless suspicion of the employer
  • Employment protection violations
  • If the employer is not able to provide the employee with a job with little physical activity despite illness

Period of notice to terminate an employment contract in Germany


 The employer or employee may terminate at the end of a calendar month (or on the 15th). The period of notice is then four weeks.


Employee announces the termination on March 26, 2018.

The end of a calendar month is on March 31, 2018.

He leaves on April 30, 2018.

In his letter of dismissal of March 26, 2018 it must be written that his last day is on April 30, 2018.


The same periods of notice apply to the employer. The period of notice depends on the duration of the working relationship:

Duration of

 the working relationship

Period of Notice
2 Years 1 Month
5 Years 2 Months*
8 Years 3 Months *
10 Years 4 Months
12 Years 5 Months
15 Years 6 Months
20 Years 7 Months

* at the end of a calendar month

The longer the employment relationship, the longer is the relative termination period of notice.The duration of the employment contract is only calculated from the 25th birthday of the employee. Before that, the four-weeks deadline applies. In this case as well, tariff-contractual regulations or agreements of the employment contract apply before this legal regulation. 

Difference between “four weeks” and “one month” 

One month is longer than four weeks (4 x 7 days = 28 days). The employee can still leave on the beginning of the month or at the end of the month. However, if the period of notice is one month, he should present the termination letter a month before. 

Example:In the 30-day month = Present your termination letter at the latest on the 2nd.In the 31st month = Present your termination letter at the latest on the 3nd.

Shorter periods of notice The term of notice may be agreed in less than four weeks in the following cases:• For a maximum period of three months in a temporary job (Aushilfstätigkeit)• For a probationary period of maximum six months, then a notice period of two weeks applies• The employer has less than 10 employees(Trainees count 0, 20 hours/week-employees’ count 1/2 and up to 30 hours/week-employees´ count 3/4)

Special Provision in German labour law:

Severely Disable Persons

A notice period of at least four weeks applies to severely handicapped persons. The termination is only valid with a timely request for approval by the Integration Office.T he severely disable person can be dismissed with the shorter statutory deadlines.

Insolvency Proceedings

In the event of bankrupt, if the insolvency administrator fires the employee of a debtor, or if the employee quits his/her job in an insolvent company, the period of notice varies between three and one months. To the extent that statutory or contractual provisions provide for a shorter deadline, the shorter deadline applies.


Home-workers can be fired/ can quit at any time. If the employment relationship lasts longer than 4 weeks and the home-worker works for a client, the notice period is extended to two weeks.