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Old 16.11.2016, 12:23
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Can I withdraw already given Arbeitszeugnis and write a new one?

Hi I am an employer and I wrote an Arbeitszeugnis to my leaving staff very nicely with a good intention, but I wrote maybe too early two months before the ending date and I am regretting of that because now this staff is not behaving professionally and try to play games . I know this letter can be provided only on the last employed day of the staff. Is there any way to cancel this and write a new one with my honest feedback? Thanks for your advice.
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Old 16.11.2016, 12:53
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Re: Can I withdraw already given Arbeitszeugnis and write a new one?

Probably not, as I believe you're not allowed to give your honest feeback here, though I understand that certain words/phrases may do the same. But remember if the employee doesn't like what you've written they can ask for it to be rewritten.
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Old 16.11.2016, 13:06
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Re: Can I withdraw already given Arbeitszeugnis and write a new one?

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I know this letter can be provided only on the last employed day of the staff. Is there any way to cancel this and write a new one with my honest feedback?
An employee can request an Arbeitszeugnis anytime during his employment. It should reflect the situation up to the date. If you allready handed it to the employee you are out of luck and you can not withdraw it.
You could give the employee a new, additional one which reflects the circumstances at the end of the termination. But there is no need for the employee to give this new one to any future employer.
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Old 16.11.2016, 13:29
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Re: Can I withdraw already given Arbeitszeugnis and write a new one?

I do not believe that you are allowed to reflect only the last 2 months where behavior was bad in the Arbeitszeugnis. you have to look at the whole of the performance and if otherwise the behavior was excellent this needs to be in the AZ.
the otherway around the same of course, if only good behavior in the last 2 months then the rest of the time with bad behavior needs to be reflected.


officially there is no 'coding' for words/phrases allowed, but everyone knows this does not hold true...
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Old 16.11.2016, 13:34
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Re: Can I withdraw already given Arbeitszeugnis and write a new one?

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I do not believe that you are allowed to reflect only the last 2 months where behavior was bad in the Arbeitszeugnis. you have to look at the whole of the performance and if otherwise the behavior was excellent this needs to be in the AZ.
the otherway around the same of course, if only good behavior in the last 2 months then the rest of the time with bad behavior needs to be reflected.


officially there is no 'coding' for words/phrases allowed, but everyone knows this does not hold true...
Mirfield was a great asset to the company. Awesome in every way. Well, apart from the last day. When he embezzled the entire pension fund.

Based on his overall appointment, we would highly recommend him in any financial role.
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Old 16.11.2016, 14:18
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Re: Can I withdraw already given Arbeitszeugnis and write a new one?

It is possible to write a new reference and specify in it that it replaces the previous one, dated x.
However, that might not reflect so well on you, as the employer.
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Old 16.11.2016, 14:20
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Re: Can I withdraw already given Arbeitszeugnis and write a new one?

And who will know that there is a newer one if the employee just decides to use the earlier one? Which employee most likely will do.
Only way to find that out is when new employer contacts old employer.
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Old 16.11.2016, 14:52
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Re: Can I withdraw already given Arbeitszeugnis and write a new one?

Yes, most certainly the employee would choose to use the earlier, better reference.

But the next employer may notice the date discrepancy (or may be reading this thread) and may then ask whether there is a reference dated closer to the date of end of employment.
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Old 16.11.2016, 22:39
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Re: Can I withdraw already given Arbeitszeugnis and write a new one?

Was that a "Zwischenzeugnis" (i.e. one requested by the employee but not directly connected to his/her pending termination of employment)?

If yes, you'll need to issue a final Zeugnis anyway and can write that a bit less enthusiastically.

If it was not, well, then you're out of luck. Even if you withdrew it, I assume the employee has a copy of it, so what keeps them from using the better version?

You need to give a balanced view on overall performance throughout the whole duration of employment (needless to say people forget and most just look at the last few months - as evidenced here). You don't need to lie, but by law, the Zeugnis needs to be "benevolent". While intended as a protection against unfairly negative comments, this is now being abused to enforce a good to very good Zeugnis, even if performance and behavior were utter crap, making the Zeugnis essentially pointless and useless, in most cases anyway.
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Old 17.11.2016, 09:51
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Re: Can I withdraw already given Arbeitszeugnis and write a new one?

Normally an Arbeitszeugnis is only issued on the last day, or after, of employment. Prior to this you would issue a Zwischenzeugnis, or intern reference, while the employee is still employed, which differs to an Arbeitszeugnis in the following ways:
  • It's written in the present tense as the employee is still employed.
  • There is no section in it giving details or reasons for the termination in employment, or wishes for the future.
  • No end date of employment is given.
Generally, if issued at the beginning of a notice period, only the above would be changed in the final Arbeitszeugnis. If the employee ends up behaving unprofessionally in during their notice period, then you can amend the reference to reflect this, however you will have to be able to justify it, potentially in court, if you do.

The purpose of the above is so that everyone knows where they stand. The employee pretty much knows what they're going to get as long as they maintain their existing standards and the employer has a way to ensure that the employee does not flake off during the notice period, because this may damage his final reference.

As has been pointed out, giving him his Arbeitszeugnis early has been a mistake - you should have given him a Zwischenzeugnis. You can issue another Arbeitszeugnis at the end of the notice period, but he'll just use the 'good' one he already has and you can't take that one back. Basically you paid up front and have little or no comeback if he does not deliver.

Increasingly verbal references are sought nowadays, where you may be able to redress the original reference, but I would strongly advise that you discuss what you should or should not say in such conversations with a lawyer as there may be legal implications if anyone claiming to seek a reference calls you up in the future.
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Old 17.11.2016, 10:06
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Re: Can I withdraw already given Arbeitszeugnis and write a new one?

If a new potential employer of your former employee calls you for a personal reference, which is quite common, then you can be honest and share that you were surprised at the employee's behaviour displayed xyz in the final weeks.

BUT you have to run the risk that it might come across as sour grapes on your part.

I would just cut your losses and forget about it. He's someone else's problem now.

Next time you have to provide a reference, leave it until closer to the leaving date. If the departing employee insists on one weeks and weeks beforehand, you could offer a Zwischenzeugnis with the promise of the final reference at the end.
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Old 17.11.2016, 10:12
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Re: Can I withdraw already given Arbeitszeugnis and write a new one?

Whatever you're planning to write make sure you do it when sober which excludes Friday and Saturday nights ...
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Old 17.11.2016, 10:28
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Re: Can I withdraw already given Arbeitszeugnis and write a new one?

Have you tried talking to the staffer? How about a gentle reminder that a future prospective employer might just pick up the phone and ask a former employer for a less formal assessment.
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