Taking holidays in Germany: How does it work?
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Annual leave entitlements can be confusing to organise and plan when you have just started a new job, even more so in a new country.

German workers are entitled to various kinds of annual leave, sick leave, parental leave and public holidays. That’s why we’ve compiled the key dates and facts that every employee should know about taking time off in Berlin.

Public holidays in Germany

Employees in Germany are entitled to a public holidays and annual leave. The amount of Public Holidays in Germany differs from state to state, for example, Berliners get nine public holidays per year whereas residents of Baden-Württemberg get up to five extra public holiday days.

In some countries, if a public holiday falls on a weekend it is taken in lieu on a Friday or Monday instead, but in Germany this is not common practice. This can put a damper on Christmas and New Year’s Eve holidays if both fall on a weekend.

The German invention of Brückentag

Germans are particularly fond of long weekends and even have a phrase for extending a mid-week bank holiday into the weekend: the Brückentag (‚bridge day‘). For example, if a bank holiday falls on a Thursday or a Tuesday, many employees will take the Friday or Monday off to create a four day weekend.

Productivity often dips in German companies during between April and June due to the amount of ‚bridge days‘.

Berlin’s public holidays in 2014

01.01.2014 (Wednesday): Neujahr / New Year’s Day
18.04.2014 (Friday): Karfreitag
21.04.2014 (Monday): Ostermontag
01.05.2014 (Thursday): Tag der Arbeit
29.05.2014 (Thursday): Christi Himmelfahrt
09.06.2014 (Monday): Pfingstmontag  
03.10.2014 (Friday): Tag der Deutschen Einheit
25.12.2014 (Thursday): 1. Weihnachtstag
26.12.2014 (Friday): 2. Weihnachtstag

Berlin’s public holidays in 2015

01.01.2015 (Thursday): Neujahr
03.04.2015 (Friday): Karfreitag
06.04.2015 (Monday): Ostermontag
01.05.2015 (Friday): Tag der Arbeit
14.05.2015 (Thursday): Christi Himmelfahrt
25.05.2015 (Monday): Pfingstmontag  
03.10.2015 (Saturday): Tag der Deutschen Einheit
25.12.2015 (Friday): 1. Weihnachtstag
26.12.2015 (Saturday): 2. Weihnachtstag

Annual leave

Annual leave entitlements are based on the amount of days worked per week. Employees that work for five days a week are entitled to a minimum of 20 days a year, while those that work four days a week receive 16 days per year.

Upon starting a new job, employees will only be able to take a 1-2 days of holiday per month. Traditionally, employees are also not allowed to take annual leave during the probation period (Probezeit), which lasts through the first six months of employment.

Employers must pay workers for holiday leave according to their annual pay. Most employers in Germany are typically reluctant to give annual leave of more than two weeks at a time. The employee is obliged to take annual leave at a time that suits the employer.

Sick leave 

In the event of needing to take sick leave from work, German employees are entitled a maximum of six weeks pay. For the time thereafter you will receive sick pay, which is lower than your usual wages and will be paid to you from from the health insurance fund.

Parental leave

According to German labour laws, both parents are allowed to take Elternzeit (or parental leave) for an extended period of up to three years at the same time. Parents can also apply for an additional 12 months off work when their child is between the ages of 3 and 8.

Parents can also avail of Elterngeld from their local Jugendamt.

Featured image: calendar with a date circled in marker via Shutterstock. Copyright: OlegDoroshin

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