Holidays and holiday pay

Holiday days

In Germany, you are legally entitled to 24 days of holiday. This is based on a 6-day working week, which implies that you are entitled to 4 weeks of holiday in a whole year. If you work 5 days a week, you are entitled to 20 days of leave. Holidays do not count towards Sundays and public holidays. Take into account that public holidays are different in each federal state.

It is customary to take at least 2 consecutive weeks of leave per year. This is not regulated by law, but it is established by case law.

The employer can only refuse leave in very serious cases.

During the leave, the usual wages continue to be paid; There is, however, no entitlement to continued payment of expense allowances and the like. By law, the employee’s average wage in the 13 weeks preceding the leave is taken as the basis.

Collective agreements

In collective agreements, the number of days of leave is higher than the legal number for most workers. Persons engaged in heavy or hazardous work are often entitled to additional days off.

In some collective agreements there are also provisions for special leave, for example in the case of a marriage or the death of a family member, sometimes also in the case of a move. This is not regulated by law in Germany. You are only entitled to the full number of leave days if you have worked for at least 6 months.

If you have not (yet) worked for the employer for a full year, the number of leave days is calculated on a pro rata basis. For each full month you get 1/12 of the number of leave days.

Most employment contracts or collective agreements state that holiday days not taken in one year must be taken by 1 April of the following year. If you have been sick for a longer period of time, for example a whole year, it may be that you take these leave days in the year in which you are able to work again.

If it is not possible to take the leave days (for example, because you have found another job), these days must be compensated.

Holiday pay

There is a difference between holiday pay (called double holiday pay in Belgium) and leave remuneration (called single holiday pay). Leave remuneration is regulated by law. Holiday pay itself is not regulated by law in Germany. There is a regulation in most collective agreements and sometimes also in employment contracts. If it is explicitly stated in employment contracts that holiday pay can be paid voluntarily and without obligation for the employer, there is no entitlement to this holiday pay.