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  • Writer's pictureRoman Jüngling

Something You Need to Know about the Vacation in Germany

Employees in Germany are entitled to free time during statutory holidays, the weekends and paid leave vacations. In addition, they might have the right to days off in certain circumstances like a wedding, child birth or the death of a close relative.


Germany is a federal state, so statutory holiday may differ between the states and even the communes. Common federal holidays are New Year (January 1), Good Friday, Easter Monday, Labor Day (May 1), Ascension Day, Pentecost, German Unity Day (October 3), Christmas (December 25) and Boxing Day (December 26). Besides this the German states depending on their religious tradition have additional holidays like Epiphany (January 6), Corpus Christi, Assumption of Mary (August 15), Reformation Day (October 30), All Saints (November 1) and Day of Repentance and Prayer. A local holiday is the Day remembering the Peace Treaty of Westphalia in Augsburg (August 8). Sundays and Saturdays are also days off.


Minimum vacations are regulated in the Federal Vacation Act (Bundesurlaubgesetz). According to § 3 Sec. 1 of this Act the minimum vacation are 24 days per year. However, as this is counted on the basis of a six working days week that no longer applies, the number has to be adjusted to a five working days week. This means that the minimum vacation is 20 days per year. Minors or disabled persons have a higher statutory vacation claim. The claim for the whole 20 days is gained after a grace period of six months of the employment. In the first six months, the employee is entitled only to 1/12th of the 20 vacation days per month. However, it is common practice that the employee does not take any vacation within the first six months. On the other hand, it is also common practice that the employment agreement or collective labor agreements provide for more than 20 vacation days per year; 30 vacation days per year are quite common.


The remuneration for a vacation day is the average daily salary excluding overtime hours of the last 13 weeks before the vacation. The employee should not work for another employer during the vacation as vacation should be free time to restore the health and the strength of the employee. If the employer does not want to grant the employee the vacation according to the employee’s vacation application, the employer needs to provide business reasons. However, the employer has to grant the vacation and cannot swap it into an additional payment. The vacation needs to be taken within the year it was occurred, at the latest until March 31 of the following year.


If the employment ends and the employee still has a claim for unused vacation days that cannot be taken, the employer has to pay for each open vacation day.


The claim is counted for each month the employee was employed with the final year of his or her employment. So, if the employee had a claim for 24 vacation days per year and his or her employment ended on June 30, his or her vacation claim in the last year was twelve vacation days. If the employee has taken only ten vacation days from January 1 to June 30, then he or she still has an open vacation claim of two days. The employer has to pay for these two open vacation days.


The employee might also be entitled to paid days off in certain circumstances. This general rule is provided in § 616 of the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch). Details are usually found in collective labor agreements, some employment agreements and case law. The death or serious illness of a spouse, a parent or child, own wedding, child birth of the wife and religious duties are considered special circumstances that entitle the employee to paid days off.



About the Author:

Roman C. Jüngling worked in the field of international business law as an intern, a law clerk and an attorney at law in international law firms in Germany, Poland and the USA, inter alia at Studnicki, Płeszka, Ćwiąkalski, Górski in Krakow, Gleiss Lutz in Frankfurt on the Main and Warsaw, Allen & Overy in Frankfurt on the Main, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Washington DC and Baker & McKenzie in Berlin. Roman C. Jüngling was admitted as attorney at law in Frankfurt on the Main in 2007, in Berlin in 2008/2009 and between 2010 and 2023 in Nuremberg. Since

2023 he is admitted at the bar in Saxony. From 2016 until 2022 he had the title of a certified specialist in tax law (Fachanwalt für Steuerrecht).

Roman C. Jüngling is a native speaker of German and Polish, and he is proficient in legal English.


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