Table Of Contents
Paid Time Off (PTO) in Germany
Annual Leave Quota (Holiday or Vacation)
20 days of paid leave (for a 5-day working week).
Holiday entitlement (Urlaubsanspruch)
The statutory minimum entitlement to fully paid holiday is 20 working days per year, based on a 5-day working week. Employees with a 6-day working week (excluding Sundays) are entitled to 24 fully paid days. Public holidays are in addition to this entitlement. This is guaranteed by the Bundesurlaubsgesetz – Federal Holiday Act. This is the case for all full-time employees.
Holiday leave is also called vacation or annual leave (Urlaub).
Holiday leave in practice
In reality, most German employers provide more than the bare minimum, so employees can usually expect 25-30 days, even on a 5-day workweek (plus public holidays). This is mostly due to Tarifvertragsgesetz – the Collective Agreements Act. Finally, the number of days (Urlaubstage) depends on the industry, but the average amount is 28 days.
Employees who want more holiday days than their contract prescribes can take additional days off in exchange for a deduction from their salary. This is not legally mandated, and it can be done only if an employer allows it.
An employer provides additional leave to young people under the age of 18, people with disabilities, and employees who consistently perform heavy or dangerous work. Employees with severe disabilities have the right to receive five extra days of paid leave.
Mini-job and part-time employees
To calculate how many days mini-jobbers (employees with a mini-job earn less than 520 euros a month) are entitled to, it needs to be taken into account the number of days they work per week, regardless of the number of hours they work each day. For example, an employee who works 5 days a week for 2 hours is entitled to 20 holiday days (four times the number of days per week they work).
Part-time employees are also entitled to annual leave. It is calculated pro-rata, the same as for mini-jobbers, based on the number of days they work per week. For example, an employee who works 4 days a week is entitled to (4×4) 16 holiday days.
Holiday entitlement starts after an employee has been working for 6 months (during the probation period).
In case an employee is fired during this timeframe, he or she will receive half of their holiday entitlement for each month they worked. However, if an employee is dismissed after completing 6 months with the organization, he or she will be eligible for their complete holiday entitlement.
Carry Over (Roll Over, Brought Forward)
A “use it or lose it” annual leave policy is allowed by national law.
In general, employees must use their annual leave in the current calendar year. If they don’t use it, annual leave will expire at the end of the same year (the “use it or lose it” approach).
However, certain employees will be allowed to carry over leave into the following year, if they were unable to take the leave for personal or operational reasons (i.e., illness, a large order, a seasonal event, etc.). In that case, they are allowed to use it by March 31st of the following year. In reality, most employers will let employees carry over the remaining days to the following year, but carry-over can be limited to, for example, 10 days.
In any case, employees must be fully informed, encouraged, and given the opportunity to take a holiday.
Full salary during a vacation.
An employee is entitled to full compensation, during a holiday. The payment an employee receives for their holiday time off is determined by their average earnings over the 13-week period preceding the beginning of their vacation.
Employees cannot demand payment instead of accrued, untaken leave during the year; this can happen only upon termination.
Payment of Unused Holiday Upon Termination
Must be paid upon termination.
If an employee has accrued, untaken holiday days at the end of employment, he or she is entitled to full payment for these days. However, an employer may require the employee to take unused holiday leave during the notice period.
Sick Leave in Germany
Up to 6 weeks of fully paid leave.
To be eligible for paid sick leave, an employee must be employed for more than 4 weeks before starting the leave.
Eligible employees in Germany can take paid sick leave for up to 6 weeks, with their salary fully paid (100%) by their employer. This is guaranteed by the Entgeltfortzahlungsgesetz – The Continued Remuneration Act.
If an employee is still sick even after those 6 weeks, he or she is entitled to sickness benefits from the health insurance (Krankengeld) for up to 72 weeks. For this period, employees are being paid at a rate of 70% of their usual earnings as compensation, as long as this amount does not surpass 90% of their net salary.
In the event that the employee experiences the same illness again and requires sick leave, they will need to wait 6 months from their last sick leave or a year from the start of the previous sick leave for the 6-week period to restart. However, if the employee falls ill due to a different illness, the 6-week period will begin again automatically.
Unlike many other countries, Germany does not discourage employees from taking sick leave. On the contrary, it is actually encouraged, and workers are expected to prioritize their health and take time off to recuperate.
In case an employee is unable to carry out their work due to physical or mental illness, they are permitted to take leave from work, provided they inform their employer without delay. If the employee is absent from work for more than 3 consecutive days, they are required to provide their employer with a medical certificate (a doctor’s note).
In certain companies, if an employee becomes ill while on vacation, they may be allowed to consider this time off as sick leave instead of using up their vacation time.
Sick leave in Germany is paid by the employer for the first 6 weeks (100% of the salary). But, if the employer has fewer than 30 employees, the national health insurance in Germany reimburses employers for 80% of the sick pay.
Maternity, Paternity, and Parental Leave in Germany
14 weeks of paid maternity leave.
Pregnant employees are entitled to 14 weeks of paid maternity leave (Mutterschutz). Prenatal leave starts 6 weeks before the expected due date, and postnatal leave lasts 8 weeks after the child is born. Postnatal leave can be extended to 12 weeks in case of complications, premature, or multiple births.
During their maternity leave, an employee is entitled to maternity pay. The pay amount is calculated based on the average gross salary earned by the employee in the 3 months preceding their maternity leave. The maternity pay is divided between the Health Insurance Company and the employer.
To protect the well-being of pregnant or nursing employees, Germany has established regulations that limit their ability to work additional hours, perform night shifts, or work on Sundays and public holidays. Employers must organize the workplace and work tasks in favor of pregnant and nursing employees. This protection applies as soon as the employer has been informed about the existing pregnancy. A ban is also put on heavy physical work or piecework as well as on work with dangerous materials.
Job protection applies.
Maternity protection is governed by the Maternity Protection Act (“Mutterschutzgesetz”).
At this moment, there is no paternity leave. Fathers can only use parental leave.
Beginning in 2024, German fathers will be granted 2 weeks of paid paternity leave, which will be given to them automatically after their child is born.
Up to 3 years of unpaid leave (could be covered by the parental allowance).
Both mothers and fathers can take parental leave (Elternzeit).
Both biological and adoptive parents have the right to take up to 3 years off from work without pay, starting from the birth of their child until the child turns 3 years old.
With permission from their employer, they can choose to save up to 24 months of parental leave, which they can utilize between the child’s third and eighth birthdays.
Employees have a statutory right to work part-time (between 15 and 30 hours per week) during parental leave unless urgent business reasons prevent such part-time work.
After the expiration of the parental leave, the employee is entitled to return to their previous position.
Employers are not required to pay their employees on parental leave, but parents can claim the parental allowance (Elterngeld).
Up to 10 unpaid days, or up to 6 unpaid months.
Family Care Leave
Employees are entitled to take time off to care for a family member who is in need of care. This leave can last up to 10 days and it is unpaid. (Pflegezeitgesetz)
Nursing Care Leave
The same as family care leave, this leave is unpaid, but it can last up to 6 months (complete or partial leave) to care for a close relative.
Bereavement Leave in Germany (Funeral Leave)
In the case of the death of a close family member, a worker is usually allowed to take 2 days of absence from work. (Sonderurlaub)
Jury Duty Leave in Germany
There is no jury in German courts.
Military Leave in Germany
This type of leave is not protected by German law.
Voting Leave in Germany
This type of leave is not protected by German law.
Public Holidays in Germany
9 nationwide public holidays that all states follow.
Public holidays in Germany depend on the state. Each of the 16 German states has a set number of holidays, from 10 to 14 days.
However, 9 national public holidays are the same nationwide:
|1 January||New Year’s Day|
|2 days before Easter||Good Friday (Friday before Easter)|
|1 day after Easter||Easter Monday|
|1 May||Labour Day|
|40th day after Easter Sunday||Ascension Day|
|7th Monday after Easter||Whit Monday (Pentecost Monday)|
|3 October||German Unity Day|
|25 December||Christmas Day|
|26 December||St. Stephen’s Day (Second Day of Christmas)|
When a holiday falls on a weekend, it usually doesn’t move to the following or preceding weekday (like it does in most countries).
- Mindesturlaubsgesetz für Arbeitnehmer – Bundesurlaubsgesetz (Minimum Leave Act for Employees – Federal Leave Act), https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/burlg/BUrlG.pdf
- Federal Ministry of Justice > Collective Agreements Act, https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_tvg/index.html
- Vacation Days In Germany [A Detailed 2023 Guide], https://www.simplegermany.com/vacation-days-in-germany/
- Sick Leave in Germany [A 2023 English Guide], https://www.simplegermany.com/sick-leave-in-germany/
- Maternity leave in Germany [Mutterschutz] – 2023 English Guide, https://www.simplegermany.com/maternity-leave-germany/
- Parental leave in Germany [Elternzeit] – 2023 English Guide, https://www.simplegermany.com/parental-leave-germany/
- Labor & Employment Law in Germany – A Concise Guide, https://nhglobalpartners.com/germany-employment-and-labor-law/
- Payroll and Benefits Guide Germany, https://www.papayaglobal.com/countrypedia/country/germany/
Updated: March 30, 2023
Check out our Leave Laws page to learn more about laws in various countries.
All materials have been prepared for general information purposes only to permit you to learn more about this region's leave laws. The information presented is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, and may not be current. Please contact your local legal counsel to learn more about the leave laws in your country.