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)


Termination agreement related to an employment contract

Template This is only a template of an employment termination agreement and shall be modified and adapted to your situation and needs.

Termination Agreement

Between the
<Employer >
§ 1 Consensual termination of the employment relationship
The parties agree that the employment relationship terminates by mutual agreement as requested by the employer on <date>. The employment relationship ends in compliance with the normal period of notice. Reason is the operational cessation of the job.
§  2  Handling of open holiday leaves entitlement
Holiday leaves entitlements arising from the termination of the employee’s employment relationship are granted to the employee until <date>. The parties agree that the actual conditions for further holiday and vacation compensation claims do not exist. The employment relationship is properly handled by both parties until the end of the contract.
§ 3  Severance Payment
For the loss of employment, the employee receives according to §§ 3 no. 9, 24, 34 EStG, §§ 9, 10 KSchG, a settlement in the amount of EUR <amount>. The severance payment is due on <date>. A payment before the end of the contract is excluded.
The severance payment will be paid without deduction of social security contributions and, as far as possible, without payroll tax. The taxation risk is borne by the employee.
§ 4  Instructions
The employee has been advised that in the case of early termination of the employment relationship for no operational reasons, he/she must expect a period of suspension at the employment office.
§ 5  References
The employee receives a benevolent testimony at the end of the employment relationship that also consider the leadership skills and performances of the employee.
§ 6  Non-Disclosure
The employee undertakes to maintain secrecy about all business and trade information even after termination of the employment relationship.
§ 7  Compensation of all claims
The parties agree that all claims arising out of the employment relationship, termination of employment are settle with the above agreement.
§ 8 Severability clause
If any provision of this Agreement is or become ineffective, the validity of the remaining provisions shall not be affected. The parties undertake to replace the ineffective provision with a clause that is as close as possible to the interests and importance of the previous provision.
<Place/Date> <Employer> <Place/Date > <Employee>


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>

Reference codes in Germany

The contents of a German work reference (Zeugnissprache) are generally standard formulations used in qualified certificates. They enable employers to make a final assessment of the conduct and performances of the employee. The standard patterns of these work references are constantly changing, so that no fixed sample is possible.

Reference codes in Germany

Examples of evaluations using German “reference codes” explicated in English:

  • Work performances [Arbeitsleistung]
  • Organization at work and achievements [Arbeitsweise und -erfolg]
  • Behavior with superiors, subordinate employees, colleagues and customers [Verhalten gegenüber Vorgesetzen und Mitarbeitern]
  • Leadership qualities [Führungsqualitäten]
  • Credits [Danksagungen]
  • Termination [Trennungsformeln]
  • Hidden Information [Versteckte Hinweise]


Work Performances: Score:
“Herr X hat die ihm übertragenen Aufgaben stets zu unserer vollsten Zufriedenheit erledigt.” 1 = Excellent
“Herr X hat die ihm übertragenen Aufgaben stets zu unserer vollen Zufriedenheit erledigt.” 2 = good
“Herr X hat die ihm übertragenen Aufgaben stets zu unserer Zufriedenheit erledigt.” 3 = satisfactory
“Herr X hat die ihm übertragenen Aufgaben zu unserer Zufriedenheit erledigt.” 4 = sufficient
“Herr X hat die ihm übertragenen Aufgaben im Großen und Ganzen zu unserer Zufriedenheit erledigt.” 5 = insufficient
“Herr X hat die ihm übertragenen Aufgaben zu unserer Zufriedenheit zu erledigen versucht “ 6 = inadequate


Organization at work and achievements: Score:  
“Herr X hat die ihm übertragenen Aufgaben stets mit größter Sorgfalt und Genauigkeit erledigt.” 1 = Excellent    
“Herr X hat die ihm übertragenen Aufgaben stets mit großer Sorgfalt und Genauigkeit erledigt.” 2 = good  
“Herr X hat die ihm übertragenen Aufgaben stets mit Sorgfalt und Genauigkeit erledigt.” 3 = satisfactory  
“Herr X hat die ihm übertragenen Aufgaben im Allgemeinen mit Sorgfalt und Genauigkeit erledigt.” 4 = sufficient  


Behavior with superiors, subordinate employees, colleagues and customers: Score:  
“… stets einwandfrei (vorbildlich)” oder
“Durch seine charakterliche Integrität (Vertrauenswürdigkeit) trug Herr X in höchstem Maße zu einem guten Betriebsklima bei. Er war bei Geschäftsführung und Mitarbeitern gleichermaßen sehr anerkannt und beliebt.”
1 = Excellent  
“… einwandfrei” oder
“Durch seine Integrität und sein aktives und kooperatives Wesen trug Herr X wesentlich zu einem guten Betriebsklima bei. Er war bei Geschäftsführung und Mitarbeitern gleichermaßen sehr anerkannt und beliebt (geschätzt).” oder
“Durch sein Wesen und seine Vertrauenswürdigkeit …”
2 = good  
“Aufgrund seines kooperativen Wesens (verbindlichen Verhaltensweise) war Herr X bei  Geschäftsführung und Mitarbeitern anerkannt und geschätzt.” 3 = satisfactory  
“Zufriedenstellend” oder
“… allseits anerkannt.”
4 = sufficient  
“Insgesamt einwandfrei” oder
“Aufgrund seiner kooperationsgeneigten Art war Herr X bei Geschäftsführung und Mitarbeitern anerkannt.” oder
“Aufgrund seiner verbindlichen Verhaltensweise war Herr X allseits anerkannt und geschätzt.”
5 = insufficient  


Leadership qualities: Score:  
“Herr X verstand es stets, seine Mitarbeiter zu überzeugen und zu motivieren, so, dass er alle ihm übertragenen Aufgaben mit großem Erfolg verwirklichen konnte.” 1 = Excellent  
“Er konnte seine Mitarbeiter überzeugen und förderte die Zusammenarbeit.” 2 = good  
“Er führte seine Mitarbeiter zielbewusst zu überdurchschnittlichen Leistungen.” 3 = satisfactory  
“Er motivierte seine Mitarbeiter.” 4 = sufficient  


Credits: Score:
“Wir bedauern den Verlust von Herrn X und bedanken uns bei ihm für die stets sehr gute und produktive Zusammenarbeit.” oder
“Er hat das Unternehmen entscheidend nach vorne gebracht.”
1 = Excellent
“Wir bedauern eine so gute Kraft (Fach-, Führungs-) zu verlieren und sind für die stets gute Leistung (Leitung) zu großem Dank verpflichtet.” 2 = good
“Wir bedauern, eine so gute Kraft (Fach-, Führungs-) zu verlieren und danken für die gute Leistung (Leitung, Zusammenarbeit).” 3 = satisfactory
“Wir bedanken uns für …” 4 = sufficient
“Wir können unseren Dank für die stete Arbeitsbereitschaft nicht versagen.” oder
“Für das stete Bestreben (Interesse) an der Zusammenarbeit bedanken wir uns.”
5 = insufficient


Termination of the employment relationships: Meaning:
“Herr X verläßt unser Unternehmen auf eigenen Wunsch.” Notice of termination given by employee
“Das Arbeitsverhältnis endete am xx.xx.xx” Notice of termination given by employer
“Das Arbeitsverhältnis endet im besten beiderseitigen Einvernehmen.” By mutual agreement
“… einvernehmlich getrennt” The employer put pressure on the termination of the employment relationships.


Hidden Clues: It could mean:
“Durch sein aufgeschlossenes Wesen war Herr X bei Mitarbeitern gern gesehen.” Chatty guy/tattletale
“Durch sein fröhliches Naturell war Herr X bei Mitarbeitern gern gesehen.” The life and soul of the office
“Herr X bewältigte Aufgaben (stets) im Alleingang.” Individualist, not team-minded
“Herr X verstand es stets aufgrund seiner ausgeprägten Kooperationsbereitschaft seine Kollegen in eigene Arbeitsabläufe erfolgreich einzubinden.” Most of the time, need help/cooperation from other colleagues



Why there is a sort of code in German references certificates?


A reference certificate must be truthful and complete, but the employer must not hinder the further working progress of the employee. In order to express the requested information –that are not always pleasant to hear- , the employer has to write in this sort of “codified language”.

A reference certificate must meet the following requirements:

  • Truthfully
  • Benevolently
  • Completeness
  • Comprehensive judgments
  • Generally Understandable sentences
  • No Insults or Devaluations are allowed


The certificate must not be an obstruction to the employee. However, unfavorable circumstances, such as failed exams, are to be mentioned.


For further questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact

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.