According to German holiday law, all employees are entitled to paid holidays every calendar year.
The statutory minimum annual leave is 24 working days. This is regulated by the Federal Leave Act (BUrlG). Working days refer to all calendar days that are not Sundays or public holidays. The law therefore assumes a six-day working week from Monday to Saturday. As a result, 24 working days mean the equivalent of four weeks’ annual leave. The term “working day” is rarely used today. Instead, the term “working days” is used.
From this follows:
- Employees with a 5-day week are entitled to at least 20 working days holiday.
- Employees with a 3-day week are entitled to at least 12 working days of leave, etc.
The employer often grants additional leave in addition to the statutory minimum leave, for example on the basis of an applicable collective agreement or an employment contract.
According to § 125 SGB IX, severely disabled persons are entitled to five additional vacation days.
Vacation desires and operational interests must be weighed up
Holiday entitlement is an employee’s entitlement to paid time off from work. The employee has no right to self-leave. Rather, they must apply for leave from their employer. Only if the employer approves the leave application may the employee stay away from work.
When examining the application for leave, the employer must weigh the employee’s holiday wishes against urgent operational concerns and the holiday wishes of other employees who deserve priority from a social point of view. The employee must enforce his claim in court by means of a temporary injunction if the employer unjustly refuses the coveted holiday. If the employee takes leave on his own authority, he commits a breach of contract which may justify termination of the contract by the employer for reasons of conduct.
Holiday right: No right of revocation
The employer cannot unilaterally revoke the leave granted if the employee has taken the leave. A “recall” from leave is not possible. Therefore, the employee does not have to follow a work instruction from his or her superior during the leave.
No leave during illness
If the employee falls ill during the holiday, the holiday entitlement does not expire. § 9 BUrlG stipulates that the days of incapacity for work shall not be credited against the holiday if the incapacity for work is proven by a medical certificate.
Holiday year is the calendar year
In principle, the following applies: The new annual entitlement to vacation must also be taken in the year in which it arises. The entitlement expires at the end of the calendar year. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For further information, please read the article Expiration of vacation.
Compensation for leave at the end of the employment relationship
The employee is entitled to financial compensation for the remaining leave when the employment relationship ends. This follows from § 7 (4) BUrlG. Please read the further contribution Vacation compensation.
If you need advice on holiday law, you are welcome to make an appointment with me at short notice.