Holiday and leave entitlement in German labour law

The leave entitlement is regulated by the employment contract. The tariff regulations apply.

According to the German Federal Leave Act, an employee is entitled to at least four weeks’ leave per year. This is equivalent to 24 working days or 20 working days for a 5-days week.

However, the employee must first acquire his days off: he must be from six months in the employment relationship, and then he is entitled to his days off. During the first six months, he may apply for partial leave.

Differences between “working days” (Arbeitstagen) and “business days” (Werktagen)

Business days are all days that are not Sundays or Holidays. Working days are the days we worked on.

  • Business days = 6 days per week
  • Working days = 5 days per week

When can you take your days off?

The annual days of leave are to be taken within the current year. If an employee can not take his days off within the year, those days may be transferred to the following year. He has then to take those days in the first three months of the year, otherwise the leave entitlement will be forfeited.



The employee always has to apply for leave. If he takes days off without authorization, the employer has the right to terminate their employment relationship. If the employer refuses to authorize the days off, the employee can claim for compensation damages in Court.


Has your leave entitlement been denied? Contact one of our experts! We are here to help you!


Holidays and Sickness

If an employee is sick, the days he is not coming to work are not considered „holiday“. If he falls sick during his holidays, those days are not counted as „days off“: a medical certificate is required.

If the employee is not able to take his days off because of an illness, those days are going to expire.


Days off at the end of an Employment Relationship or during an exemption from work

 If the employment relationship is terminated before the holidays have been taken, the employer must pay for those days off. In the case of an exemption, the employer can not offset the “normal” leave to the employee on the exemption period. An exemption from work must not be considered as “holiday”!

Salary under German labour law (without minimum remuneration)

The amount of an employee´s wage (remuneration, salary) is agreed between the employee and the employer before the beginning of the employment. The earned income is stated in the employment contract. Otherwise the tariff or company regulations apply.

Holiday pay and Christmas bonuses

Holiday pays or Christmas bonuses are “gratifications” from the employer. These allowances depend on the past and future fidelity of the employer. If the employee, for example, terminates their employment relationship, he may have to repay a portion of the gratuities.T

he 13th monthly salary is a special payment that is intended to repay past performances. The employee receives the 13th monthly salary at the payout.

If there is a dispute about special remuneration in the event of a termination, you should have a lawyer examining your employment situation.

Public Holidays and sickness benefits

An employee is entitled to the payment of his remuneration if:

  • Due to a public holiday the normal working time can not be respected;
  • He/she is unable to work because of an illness/sickness (condition: the employment relationship must have been continuous for at least four weeks from the starting of the contract). The employee is entitled to sickness benefits from the employer for 6 weeks. After those 6 weeks, the health insurance company will take care of that.
  • He/she falls sick again with the same disease. He then has a new entitlement up to six weeks´ remuneration. (Condition: in between he may not have been sick for six months for the same disease or twelve months have elapsed since he was ill for the first time for the same disease).

Company car

In addition to the remuneration for the work, a “Naturalvergütung“ (remuneration for the natural person) can also be agreed.

A company car which the employee also uses for private purposes is such remuneration. The employee also has the right to use the car in the case of• continuation of wages,• illness or• exemption after termination.T

his applies, unless otherwise agreed. If the employer removes the company car from the contract, the employee is entitled to compensation against the employer.

Make sure to consult a lawyer for any further questions on this topic. We are here for you!Sala