The spouse of an employee whose employment is to be terminated
can be treated as the so-called authorised recipient if he/she
shares a domestic home with the employee and there is nothing to
oppose the assumption that the spouse is suited to pass on the
notice of termination to the employee. In this case, the
termination notice can also be handed over outside the domestic
home. Receipt by the employee is deemed to have taken place when
one can expect the declaration to have be passed on to the employee
under normal circumstances and not already with the provision of
the termination notice to the spouse.
On 9 June 2011 the BAG had to decide in a case where the
employer did not hand the letter of termination over to the
employee herself at her place of work, rather, due to her absence,
to the spouse of the employee on 31 January 2008 – and
that is at his place of work in a DIY store (docket no.: 6 AZR
687/09). The spouse did not pass on the letter to his wife on 31
January 2008, rather only on 1 February 2008. The claimant
subsequently asserted that the employment relationship did not
terminate until 31 March 2008 as opposed to already on 29 February
2008, observing the ordinary termination notice period of one month
to the end of a month, for she had not received the termination
until 1 February 2008.
The BAG rejected this opinion. It established that, according to
prevailing public opinion, the spouse of the claimant acted as
authorised recipient when he accepted receipt of the termination on
31 January 2008. Under normal circumstances one can expect the
spouse to return to the shared domestic home on the same day and
therefore pass on the notice of termination to the claimant on the
same day. It was of no consequence that the spouse accepted receipt
of the termination at his place of work as opposed to in the
Naturally, the best choice is always to hand over the (original)
notice of termination to the employee whose employment is to be
terminated in order to ensure the timely receipt of the
termination. Should this not be possible, however, then in order to
meet the deadline the handing over of the letter to the spouse can
under certain circumstances be an alternative if this person and,
in particular, his/her location/place of work, is known. It is a
known fact that putting the notice of termination into the
employee's letterbox does not necessarily secure its receipt on
the same day. Handing over the letter to underage children living
in the domestic home of the employee also does not automatically
lead to the receipt of the declaration on the same date; here it
depends on the circumstances in the individual case, in particular
on the age and maturity of the child. The risk of a belated receipt
is too high, with the result this method is not advisable.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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