Germany: team member abuses sick days; what can I as team lead do about it?

This was closed as a duplicate, which I think it's not. Because Germany differs a lot from the default (US) here. We don't have a sick day allowance. Cheating on sick days is a firing offense. And while that might mean nothing in a country where you have at-will-employment, in Germany it's the difference between 2 months pay, unemployment benefits and a severance package on top and... standing on the street without a job and without any unemployment benefits at all.

Also, if he does become the team lead, "just let it slip" is unsound advice. Once you did, you have legal problems if you want to fire him for it later. With a firing offense, you actually have to use it when you get to know it. You cannot just say "you did this for years and now I'm sick of it."

Basically, his question "We live and work in Germany. Is there a way of firing him?" is not answered by the duplicate at all.

So please reopen it so we can craft an answer for this question that takes into account.

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    You may want to remove the insults to Americans if you are hoping to get any support from them on this matter. Just a suggestion, but people are not motivated to help you when you are insulting them. Oct 28 '16 at 12:13
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    @RichardU Can you explain how I insult Americans? It wasn't meant to be an insult.
    – nvoigt
    Oct 28 '16 at 12:14
  • "And while that might mean nothing in a country where you have at-will-employment, in Germany..." is a bit insulting. It's inaccurate and sounds a good deal like the insult we constantly hear about being all about the money and caring for little else. I think that's what's getting you the down votes. Oct 28 '16 at 12:26
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    @RichardU hm, I'm sure I would care less for "firing offenses" if I could be fired any second for any reason anyway. I didn't mean to insult anyone, I just wanted to point out that it's a big deal here. Do you have suggestions for an alternative wording?
    – nvoigt
    Oct 28 '16 at 12:29
  • Perhaps just saying that firing offenses are treated more seriously in Germany than in the US in general and leave out anything about who cares about what. Oct 28 '16 at 18:17
  • Yes. This question is much more specific, and very different from the other question.
    – Sascha
    May 26 '17 at 16:49

The duplicate is about a coworker. This question has now been edited to clarify that the OP is going to be this person's team lead. That feels different to me, quite aside from the Germany part of the question.

Team leads are in an awkward position: they're held accountable if the team doesn't deliver but they don't have formal supervisory authority over the team members and sometimes have no say in which or how many people they get. I think focusing this question on that aspect of it makes this not a duplicate.

The OP still needs to clarify the desired outcome, as noted in comments.


Sorry, but in Germany he would need an docter to write him sick would he not?
If his Company doesn't thats their failure.

The OP only seems to want to fire the Person in question.
The question adds nothing to the workplace like this and anything else would result in legal advice.

Also the OP should either Report to Management or continue doing what he is paid to do.

It's your manager's job to manage

I say this in all seriousness, but not in the way it's normally meant. What I mean is that you feel so driven to make sure the project is completed at a high quality and on time that you are trying to take on some parts of your manager's job as well as your job and your coworker's job. Your manager can't see the problem because you won't let him/her. (Going to say him from here on out for brevity.) You need to step back far enough to let him do his job.

One thing you need to do is alert him to the problem, as tactfully as you can.

This would have been my answer to him, this is copied from here*

Please tell me why this won't be a valid thing to do in Germany?

* Source: top answer of the duplicate

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    No he would not necessarily need a doctor. Most companies place some trust and want to save on some paperwork and allow people to call in sick for a day or two without a note. Even with a note, what is allowed and what is not when on sick leave has been through courts (and should now be considered public knowledge).
    – nvoigt
    Oct 28 '16 at 10:02
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    He also said "He is coming to be part of my team soon", so telling him "shut up and wait until he actually is on your team, and then come here and ask again" seems very unhelpful. He will be this guys manager or at last in a position of responsibility where he cannot just shrug and say "not my job", because knowing and not reporting it only flies if you are without any responsibility.
    – nvoigt
    Oct 28 '16 at 10:05
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    In addition, the duplicate is about "pulling weight", which is totally subjective and has no factual meaning. In Germany, you cannot be fired for "not pulling your weight". Cheating on sick days is something that can be proven and is something that will get you fired ASAP. As such, having knowledge of it and not reporting it, can get you in hot water, too.
    – nvoigt
    Oct 28 '16 at 10:10
  • @nvoigt well One: All he can do is Report it to his Management he is no Manager as of yet (atleast not the employee in question). Two: he should edit that into his answer not in comments and in case he doesnt someone else should do so. Three: lets not go into the Details of wether or not it is related to pulling weight. Cheating on sick days is something HR should determine not you not your Manager. Again his only responsibility is to Report it, not act on it. Oct 28 '16 at 10:26
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    Do you propose that we make every single answer where someone needs to speak with management a duplicate of the one here? That's about just as helpful as "just quit". "Just talk to management". God forbid we actually gave somebody advice specific to his situation.
    – nvoigt
    Oct 28 '16 at 10:57
  • Also, I don't think the duplicate says anything about his question "We live and work in Germany. Is there a way of firing him?"
    – nvoigt
    Oct 28 '16 at 11:01
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    God is not my name though, nor would I forbid you from giving advice, it is just that I think the duplicate matches. Now lets say we do get him advice to fire this employee. Shouldnt he fire the others as well for the following reason? "Other people have also done this calling it the 'Lazy-day'" Oct 28 '16 at 11:09
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    I don't know. We cannot make decisions for him. But we can give him information. And the duplicate has no information concerning employees cheating on sick days in Germany.
    – nvoigt
    Oct 28 '16 at 11:21

The main question is about a coworker who's dragging everyone down, which the linked duplicate covers well.

The follow-up "We live and work in Germany. Is there a way of firing him?" is entirely too problematic to answer here. It's too specific and situational to qualify for the "generic advice" exemption we have for legal questions. And as discussed on the linked question it's also not something the OP should concern himself with. His manager should manage this. You seem to completely ignore the fact that OP has no management authority and if you want a Germany-specific Q&A then you can submit that separately. But really, I can only imagine the downvote storm you'd see if you post something like "How can I fire someone for cause to avoid paying benefits?"

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    How do you come to the conclusion I want Germany specific Q&A when the OP asked for it? It was his question. Literally. "We live and work in Germany. Is there a way of firing him?". That was his question, not a follow up. That was the first sentence with a question mark. Nowhere does he say he wants to find cause to avoid paying benefits.
    – nvoigt
    Oct 28 '16 at 11:46
  • @nvoigt no, but you definitly did so. Oct 28 '16 at 11:56
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    @RaoulMensink Neither did I. I said that cheating on sick days is a serious offence, compared to countries where you have at-will and an allowance. Nowhere did I state he should fire him if he's not actually cheating, as "to avoid paying benefits" implies.
    – nvoigt
    Oct 28 '16 at 11:59
  • @nvoigt "Cheating on sick days is a firing offense. And while that might mean nothing in a country where you have at-will-employment, in Germany it's the difference between 2 months pay, unemployment benefits and a severance package on top and... standing on the street without a job and without any unemployment benefits at all." I can only conclude that you think this question would have merit because the "value-add" would be getting rid of a bad employee without paying the associated costs. Otherwise the question "How do I fire someone" is completely pointless (and not Germany-specific).
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Oct 28 '16 at 12:19
  • As for your first comment, I'm talking about the main question because that's what prompted OP to post: he's got a crap colleague and understandably wants to get rid of him. The problem is that that second part is a non-starter because he doesn't manage the guy. That leaves only the first part which is what prompted the duplicate link.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Oct 28 '16 at 12:21
  • @Lilienthal So we declared it a duplicate not based on what he did ask, but what we thought he might have wanted to ask? Seems strange to me. And I don't know how you got from firing a bad apple to assuming I wanted to help finding excuses for firing people to avoid costs. I guess it only underlines my argument that you may not be aware how big an offense this is in Germany. If the question was "I saw him steal from the company repeatedly", would you assume the same motive behind my potential answer?
    – nvoigt
    Oct 28 '16 at 12:25
  • @nvoigt So all the other employees of that company should be fired for cause as well? Because evidently it's not a big deal that everyone else does it but this particular guy does it too often and should be crucified over it? And you seem to be wilfully misinterpreting every post in this thread. This wasn't closed over what we "thought he wanted to ask". This was closed because what he asked wasn't realistic. You do realise that if this was actually reopened with that central question I could just answer "No, because you don't manage him." and you couldn't argue that I'm incorrect?
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Oct 28 '16 at 12:34
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    @Lilienthal Why should I argue? I could downvote you (probably not) and just write my own answer (probably). And yes, "other people" (not "everyone else", just some others) set themselves up for firing as well. Again, if they should be fired is a decision I cannot make. But I could actually add valuable information. For example, having a beer may or may not be allowed while having a sick day. But instead of giving him a lot of valuable information, we brushed him off with "mind your own business, go away". He got nothing out of using this site, not even enough to make his own decisions.
    – nvoigt
    Oct 28 '16 at 12:41
  • @nvoigt OP's comment while bordering on the sarcastic begs to differ. OP learned that he can't really make the case to get his colleague fired but he can escalate the problems that his behaviour causes to the people who can fire him (or, more likely, address the sick day abuse). The comments on the question actually explain enough about why this was closed so I'm really not seeing the problem you have with how this was handled.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Oct 28 '16 at 13:38
  • The update from the OP which you added in ("He is coming to be part of my team soon, what should I do as his team lead?") hints at this potentially being answerable if we ignore the "I want to get him fired" but even then it's still very broad and unfocused, though the scope is small enough that I'd allow a "what are my options for dealing with this guy if he joins the team I manage?" question.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Oct 28 '16 at 13:41
  • The question does not say this person is dragging everyone down. In fact, it says that he performs well. The problem seems to be more one of differing work styles: a "burst worker" versus constant-speed ones. So it seems from the info provided about German employment law, the OP can either accomodate his work style if his total output is valuable, or use the sick day thing to get him dismissed.
    – jamesqf
    Oct 28 '16 at 18:13

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