When Quitting Your Job Is A Crime

Crime Time

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I’ve now been unemployed for three months and honestly I could not be happier except that my bank balance is looking scarily low. Therefore, I applied this week for unemployment benefits and got a very unpleasant introduction to Die Agentur für Arbeit (The Agency for Work aka The Employment Agency). The people there were nice enough but it truly is German bureaucracy at its mind-numbing ‘best’. It turns out that I should have applied for unemployment benefits on the very first day that I was unemployed or up to 3 months beforehand, despite the fact I don’t qualify for unemployment benefits until 3 months after I quit my job. Therefore, I need to supply a written statement about why I applied so late. Then, there comes the matter of quitting my job. It turns out that quitting your job in Germany and not having another job to go to straight away is almost like committing a crime. I not only have to provide a written statement on the reasons why I quit my job, but also explain what I did to prevent quitting, what I did to delay quitting and explain why I quit even though my company would have fired me anyway (which they wouldn’t have) plus give the names, dates and times of the people at my company I spoke to about all of it – and I need to do all this in German. Then there comes the usual massive number of forms that you need to fill out when dealing with any public service in Germany. I find all of this so ridiculous that I have been laughing at the absurdity of it for the past 4 days.

Fortunately, things were bad enough at my previous job that I don’t lack any explanations for my reasons for quitting. I’m just worried that they won’t believe all of this stuff was actually going on. The fact that three of my former colleagues (although not from the same office as me since I was the only one there besides my boss) have handed in their resignations since I quit shows that this shit is still ongoing and probably always will until they go out of business. Words can’t describe my relief about being out of that place, even if it does mean having to deal with a mountain of paperwork and no doubt a million and one appointments with the Arbetisamt. If I actually successfully navigate this process and receive my unemployment benefits I will write a How To Guide for other foreigners in the same situation as this whole process was a complete mystery to me (and still is).  For now wish me luck in surviving it all.


22 thoughts on “When Quitting Your Job Is A Crime

  1. Depending on whether they will accept your reasons for quitting / reporting late that you were unemployed you might be barred from unemployment benefits for some time. However, you might qualify for social grants which would at least cover health insurance, rent and heating costs as well as give you about € 390.- /month to cover other necessities. Have you looked into that already?

    • I haven’t. I’m taking it one step at a time, mainly cause I have no idea what I’m eligible for. I’m hoping Die Agentur für Arbeit can help me through the whole process. So far, the staff have been really helpful, so I’m hoping that continues.

      • If I were you I´d try to find out sooner rather than later as it won´t be paid retroactively. So if you have qualified already, you would have waived your current claim (not future ones,of course). You need to ask for “Arbeitslosengeld II”. For details see here: http://www.sozialleistungen.info/hartz-iv-4-alg-ii-2/

        Even if you don´t qualify, contact your health insurance so that they will at least reduce your contributions. Again, it might not be possible to do it retroactively (not sure though).

        • My health insurance have already reduced my premium as I informed them straight away that I was currently unemployed. Thanks for the advice about Hartz IV.

  2. It’s just a “crime” if you want to have money from the state after quitting the job ;) That’s the thought behind it: The state only want to pay for people who really need it, not for people who could search for a new job while still employed. For the same reason people who get money have to prove they are activle searching for a new employement …
    The system surely has its disadvantedges (and parts of the bureaucracy are really ridiculous … often because they are grown in time instead of made new from the base when grown to complex), but it has its reasons.
    I wish you good luck with the Arbeitsamt and hope you get a great new job soon!

  3. It doesn’t get better, even if you do qualify. My friend has to supply weekly applications for jobs that are way below her just to prove she’s looking; another, who is in a training program, has to provide bank statements monthly to prove she’s living within her budget. It’s amazing, considering some of the real shitshows that use Harz IV with no intention of every working again. Like who wants this interference in their lives?

    • I agree it is annoying, but we have a similar system in Australia where you need to prove you are looking for jobs in order to keep your benefits. I have no problem with this as I intend to only be on arbeitslosengeld for a short while.

      • I think it wouldn’t be so annoying for my friend if she weren’t totally overqualified for the jobs they’re making her apply for. Then again, she’s only doing it as a formality in case she needs the unemployment money (her 3 months hasn’t run out yet like yours).

  4. What a nightmare – I hate German paperwork! I’m on unpaid leave for a month or two and am just hoping I don’t need to fill out anything… I’m wishing you lots of luck – seems like you really needed to get out of your last job!

  5. Oh man! Good luck. Dealing with any Behörde is always totally stressful. I hope everything gets squared away without too much trouble. :( It does seem like it was time to quit that job, though! Glad you’re out!

  6. I agree with Hanna Mond.Social money in Germany is really just for people who are completely stuck, not for the ones qutting for personal reasons. The system is weird, I admit it. Most of my college classmates had to apply for unemployment at the Arbeitsamt 3 month before they got out of college. I was lucky and already had a contract back then.
    If you need any help let me know :)

    • I agree that social security payments should be for those that need them, which is why when you quit your job you have a to wait 3 months before receiving any benefits. Still, I find it strange that they require so much written justifications for leaving a job.

      • Still, I find it strange that they require so much written justifications for leaving a job.

        It might not only be for you to justify why you left — it could well be also to make sure they don’t (unknowingly) stick someone else into your terrible working environment. This is the Agentur für Arbeit, not the Agentur für Arbeitslosigkeit. I’m just speculating, never having been in need, but I think they’d want to know what problems at that employer would make an employee willingly leave without a transition to the next employer.

        Else they might be shooting themselves in the foot by setting someone else up to be your replacement, nicht wahr?

        • I think the main reason is that if they think your reasons were justifyable and you couldn´t reasonably have been expected to stay they would wave the 3 months of non-payment of unemployment benefit.

  7. Hello,

    Did you manage to finish the papers? I am also thinking of quitting, mainly because of the unapyed overtime (which is common) . Did you find a job, and how long didnitbtkae you from the time younapplied for social help?

    Thank you!

    • It took me 8 months to find a new job, mainly because I needed to get my German up to a decent level as there was no work in my industry for people who only speak English. Those who speak only English are usually based in the UK offices, whilst the German ones require German speaking staff. However, this will all depend on your industry as to whether you can find a new job quickly and if you will require a decent level of German (B2 level).

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