Will You Get Unemployment Benefits in Germany if You Quit Your Job?

Oct 5, 2021Insurances, Living in Germany, Work in Germany

Sometimes it makes sense to quit your job. Maybe you don’t like it anymore, or there is a new place waiting for you. Only in 2020 alone, more than 2,7 million Germans lost or have quit their jobs. Yet, if you want to leave your job and receive unemployment benefits, you must know some facts before submitting the notice.

In Germany, if an employee quits a job without a significant reason, the employment office can impose a blocking period for unemployment benefits. The blocking period can be up to the first twelve weeks after termination. During that time you won’t receive state support.

For people who resign from their current jobs and don’t have a new offer yet, receiving social help from the state remains the only viable option. Yet, it’s not always that easy, if even possible, when you decide to quit the job. In this article, you will learn all about unemployment benefits in Germany and who is entitled for it.

What happens when you quit your job in Germany?

So you are determined to leave your job soon and want to know what will happen and what are your financial options? Since Germany has a great social system, it takes care of all people who are in need. Therefore, employees who leave or lose their jobs can receive unemployment benefits. 

However, if you terminate the employment contract yourself, the unemployment benefits won’t be available for you for up to twelve weeks from the moment when you leave the job. 

It’s Employment Agency that can impose this blocking period. Therefore, your unemployment benefits will be shortened to 3 months. In total, an unemployed in Germany can receive state support for up to 12 months. This blocking period is called Sperrfrist in German. 

If you get fired, this won’t apply, and a former employee starts receiving unemployment benefits from the day the work contract ends. 

According to the annual report, a blocking period was imposed on around 221,000 unemployed people in 2018 due to quitting a job.

If you want to quit your current job, it’s always a better idea to find another position before submitting your termination. Therefore, you don’t need to apply for social help at all. 

However, the blocking period also doesn’t apply or can be reconsidered if you have a good reason to quit.

What is the blocking period (Sperrfrist)?

A blocking period (Sperrfrist) for unemployment benefits in Germany comes into effect if an employee has terminated his/her job without a significant reason. As a result, they won’t receive social benefits for up to the first 12 weeks after leaving becoming unemployed. 

The blocking period can range in length with an average of twelve weeks.

How can you reduce the blocking time?

Fortunately, this blocking time when you don’t get money can be reduced or avoided in total. 

Therefore, if you can prove that you quit your job for one of the following reasons, you can avoid a blocking period:

  1. Professional reasons: These include problems that occur at work, such as
  • mobbing
  • sexual harassment
  • excessive demand/workload
  • stress
  • delayed salary payments and some others

2. Private reasons: These can vary widely since everyone can have a unique situation in life. Such cases are weighed individually, thus, there is no 100% guarantee that you will receive the total amount.

  • care of a relative
  • moving into a shared apartment with a spouse or a partner
  • moving together with a partner to raise a child together 
  • others

The second point won’t apply if you are only dating that person. 

3. New job: Have you found a new job and signed the contract? This would be a legit reason to receive unemployment benefits in the meantime. 

Health insurance during the blocking period

Health insurance is a concern when quitting a job since it’s usually connected to your work contract. Particularly when it comes to public health insurance. In Germany, unemployed people also receive health insurance coverage and even in the blocking period. 

Since August 1, 2017, unemployed can use their regular public insurance coverage from the beginning of the blocking period. This only applies to someone who previously was signed with a public provider. 

But what if you have private health insurance? In that case, the employment agency will pay the contributions to your private health insurance from the second month of the blocking period. 

Therefore, you need to take care about your insurance bill only in the first month. 

Read this post about health insurance for the unemployed in Germany. It will be helpful for everyone who doesn’t have regular or any income while living in Germany. 

Unemployment benefits if you get fired 

If your employer has terminated your working contract for a normal reason, you will start receiving unemployment benefits from day one. 

However, you might face a blocking period in unemployment benefits if you have given the employer the reason for termination. This can include some serious misbehavior.

Unemployment benefits for people with a resident permit in Germany

Germans and EU citizens are entitled to unemployment benefits and other social benefits in Germany. However, nationals from non-EU countries might face some limitations. 

The Agentur für Arbeit or German Employment Agency says the following in this regard:

If you have lost your job, then you can get unemployment benefits under certain conditions, where you must belong to one of these groups:

  1. Be a citizen of one of the EU/EEA countries or Switzerland.
  2. To have a valid settlement or residence permit in Germany with the permission to work.

Most importantly, you need to fulfill requirements for the unemployment benefits like: 

  1. You fulfill the qualifying period. This usually means that you have been employed for at least 12 months during the 30 months prior to registering as unemployed. Several jobs can be added together.
  2. You have registered as unemployed with your employment agency.
  3. You are unemployed, but you are able to work in a job that is subject to compulsory insurance (at least 15 hours per week).
  4. You are looking for employment subject to compulsory insurance and are cooperating with the employment agency.

Unemployment benefits for non-EU citizens in Germany

Non-EU citizens might claim unemployment benefits in Germany depending on their residence status. Generally, people with permanent residency or someone with the work permit that is not tied to a certain job can receive social benefits in Germany.

To be eligible for unemployment benefits, usually, you need to have been living and working in Germany for at least 2 years. 

In the end, the final decision will depend on immigration authorities and employment agency whether one qualify or not. 

Unemployment benefits for EU citizens in Germany

As an EU citizen, you don’t need a residence or work permit to live and work in Germany. Furthermore, you are entitled to claim unemployment benefits, assuming you are qualified for it. (Read below)

Who qualifies for unemployment benefits in Germany?

So who in Germany is eligible for unemployment benefits, and how can you fall into this category too?

Here are the general requirements everyone needs to fulfill to receive unemployment benefits in Germany

  1. Being registered in Germany.
  2. Have been employed for at least 12 months during the last 30 months prior to becoming unemployed. Several jobs can be added together. This excludes mini-jobs paid under 450EUR/month.
  3. Have registered as unemployed at the employment agency.
  4. Is proactively looking for a new job.

How much is the unemployment benefit in Germany in 2021?

In Germany, unemployment benefits are calculated very straightforward and aren’t charging year after year.

As a rule, all unemployed who are eligible for social security in Germany receive 60% of their average net monthly salary or 67% if they or their spouse/partner have one or more children.

Plus, your health insurance will be covered during the unemployment. 

However, the contribution amount is limited by the maximum income, which is 7,100 EUR in western German states and 6,700 EUR in the eastern states. Meaning, all income above that won’t count as a base for the estimation of unemployment benefits.

Furthermore, you can estimate the amount you will get by using a calculator on the Employment agency site. 

Read a full post about various employee benefits in Germany.

Fired during the probationary period – unemployment benefits

Employee’s rights during the probation period can get quite complicated or are not 100% clear. If you have quit or have been fired during the probation period, is there any entitlement to the unemployment benefits?

Firstly, if you quit yourself, you won’t receive benefits in the first 12 weeks.

Yet, the blocking period can be avoided or reduced if there are serious reasons for leaving the job, e.g., mobbing or sexual harassment. 

Furthermore, the same rules as regular employment apply where unemployment benefits will be shortened only if you got fired for a significant reason, e.g., misbehavior. In all other cases, fired employees on a probation period receive help from the state. 

If a blocking period for unemployment allowance is applicable, it will be for a maximum of 12 weeks. 

Requirements for unemployment benefits after termination during the probationary period: 

  1. You must be registered as “unemployed” with the employment agency.
  2. You have been employed for at least twelve months in the past two years – during that time you had to contribute to the German social security. 
  3. You have not terminated the job yourself.
  4. You have not been terminated without notice.

How long can you receive unemployment benefits in Germany?

In Germany, the unemployed can receive support only for a limited time. Well, otherwise, no one will work. 

The maximum amount one can receive state support is 24 months. However, for people under 50’s, it’s only 12 months. 

The exact length depends on your age and how long you have been in employment and contributing to unemployment insurance in Germany in the last 5 years. 

You can see the numbers in the table below. The entitlement period means how long you will receive unemployment benefits in Germany.

Employment&Contribution lengthAgeEntitlement period
12 months6 months
16 months8 months
20 months10 months
24 months12 months
30 months 5015 months
36 months 5518 months
48 months5824 months

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