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Vacation and Leave Policies

Understand the regulations on vacation and other types of leave in Germany

Holiday leave

In Germany, the Federal Leave Act stipulates that all employees have the right to a minimum of 24 working days of paid vacation leave per year. This is calculated based on a 6-day workweek, meaning employees working a 5-day workweek are entitled to at least 20 working days.

Accrual and Eligibility

The vacation leave accrues proportionally throughout the year. After six months of employment, employees gain full entitlement to their annual leave. However, with the employer's agreement, they may be able to take leave proportionally before this period.


Employees are entitled to receive their regular average salary in full during their vacation periods.

Unused Leave Carryover

Generally, vacation leave must be taken in the current calendar year. However, under specific circumstances and with employer approval, employees may carry over unused leave to the subsequent year until March 31st.

Public holidays

Germany celebrates a variety of public holidays, some of which are observed nationwide, while others are specific to certain regions.

Nationwide Public Holidays

Germany observes the following public holidays across the entire country:

  • New Year's Day on January 1st
  • Good Friday, the date of which varies yearly
  • Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, both of which have varying dates
  • Labor Day, also known as Tag der Arbeit, on May 1st
  • Ascension Day, which is 39 days after Easter Sunday and varies each year
  • Whit Monday, which is 50 days after Easter Sunday and also varies each year
  • German Unity Day on October 3rd
  • Christmas Day on December 25th
  • Second Day of Christmas on December 26th

Regional Public Holidays

In addition to the nationwide holidays, some German states observe additional public holidays, primarily for religious reasons:

  • Epiphany on January 6th, observed in Baden-W├╝rttemberg, Bavaria, and Saxony-Anhalt
  • Corpus Christi, observed in significant parts of Baden-W├╝rttemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saarland. The date varies, being 60 days after Easter Sunday
  • Assumption of Mary on August 15th, primarily observed in Bavaria and Saarland
  • Reformation Day on October 31st, observed in Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia
  • All Saints' Day on November 1st, observed in Baden-W├╝rttemberg, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saarland.

Types of leave

In Germany, labor laws ensure employees have access to various types of leave. These are primarily outlined in the Federal Leave Act, the Maternity Protection Act, and other labor regulations.

Vacation Leave

Employees are entitled to a minimum of 24 working days of paid vacation (annual leave) per year, based on a 6-day workweek. During vacation leave periods, employees receive full pay.

Sick Leave

Employees become eligible for paid sick leave after four weeks of employment. They are entitled to up to six weeks of continued salary payments from their employer in case of illness. After the initial six weeks, health insurance may provide sickness benefits. Employers may require a medical certificate generally after three days of absence.

Maternity Leave

Female employees are entitled to maternity leave, generally six weeks before and eight weeks after childbirth. This may be extended in cases of multiple births or health complications. Eligible employees receive maternity benefits, primarily paid through health insurance and sometimes supplemented by the employer.

Parental Leave

Both parents have the right to take parental leave for up to three years per child until the child's eighth birthday. A parental allowance partially compensates for lost income, though eligibility criteria apply.

Other Types of Leave

Employees may be entitled to short-term leave to care for a seriously ill close relative. Longer-term family care leave for up to six months may be an option. While there's no federal entitlement, state laws, collective agreements, or employment contracts might provide for a short period of paid leave in the case of the death of a close family member. Some employers may offer the option of a longer-term unpaid leave for personal reasons.

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