Probezeit: what you should know

Before signing a contract, jobseekers in Germany should be aware of Probezeit and how exactly it impacts a new job.

If you spot the word Probezeit in your contract, it does not automatically mean putting the champagne back in the fridge and halting celebrations.

However, there are a few things that you should keep in mind and several factors which may differ from trial periods in other countries.

What is Probezeit?

Probezeit is the German equivalent of a trial or probation period and it is usually written into contracts of employment. It is a test period that can last anywhere between one month and six months. The length of your personal Probezeit will be stated in your contract.

What purpose does it serve and why do I have to agree to it?

While you may have jumped through hoops, completed several interviews and tests before being told you got the new job, you might still need to complete Probezeit.

Germans use the period to see how well you fit in with the company and it also offers the both parties an opportunity to get to know each other. It is a trial run which highlights how well you work with the other employees and how you operate in action.

The main thing you need to know is that Probezeit gives employers an opportunity to back out of the contract during the specified period, if it becomes clear that you are not the suitable candidate that you originally appeared to be.

What rights do I have?

It is important to read the small print in your contract and understand what exactly you are signing. Double check the Probezeit section as details can differ from job to job.

The notice period during a trial is generally less than in a normal contract. Employees can usually give their notice two weeks in advance. Once the Probezeit is over the notice period changes to one month.

Holidays during Probezeit

Contrary to popular belief workers are allowed to take one twelfth of their annual leave during Probezeit. If a job is terminated before holiday entitlements have been used, holiday pay must be paid to the employee. The amount depends on the rate of pay agreed between both parties at the start of employment.

Make the best out of Probezeit

Here are some pointers for making the most out of your Probezeit:

  • Be respectful of the employees that have worked there for long periods of time.
  • Don’t try to overshadow co-workers within the first week (or in general).
  • Ask how you can improve your work and if you can be of any further assistance. 
  • If you don’t have strict working hours, don’t be the first to leave the office but don’t be the last either. 
  • Punctuality and research are two other factors that employers notice. 
  • Co-workers will generally be glad that there is someone new to lighten their workload.

In most cases Probezeit is not something new workers need to panic about and the trial period usually runs smoothly into a job. 


Featured image: Appointment at a specialist for finance: female customer and adviser sitting at desk talking about a contract or business solutions. Otherwise job interview. via Shutterstock. Copyright: Jeanette Dietl


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