Leave Policy in Germany

Shraddha Saxena
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Table of Content

Germany's labor laws are established by federal legislation and influenced by trade unions and employer associations through collective bargaining agreements. Employee-led works councils also play a key role in shaping policies, ensuring favorable conditions for all. This guide provides essential information about Germany's leave policies. Employers looking to hire employees from Germany or through an Employer of Record (EOR) in Germany must be well-versed in these regulations to ensure compliance and effectively manage their workforce.

Annual Leave (Vacation)

In Germany, the Federal Holidays Act (Bundesurlaubsgesetz) mandates a minimum of 20 days of annual leave for employees on a 5-day workweek and 24 days for those on a 6-day workweek. Known as Urlaubsanspruch, vacation entitlements are detailed in employment contracts or collective agreements (Tarifvertrag). Many agreements extend this to 30 days, with additional leave for high-risk jobs.

Public Holidays

  • 1 Jan 2024 (Monday): New Year’s Day - National
  • 6 Jan 2024 (Saturday): Epiphany - Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, and Saxony-Anhalt
  • 8 Mar 2024 (Friday): International Women’s Day - Berlin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
  • 29 Mar 2024 (Friday): Good Friday - National
  • 31 Mar 2024 (Sunday): Easter Sunday - Brandenburg
  • 1 Apr 2024 (Monday): Easter Monday - National
  • 1 May 2024 (Wednesday): Labour Day - National
  • 9 May 2024 (Thursday): Ascension Day - National
  • 19 May 2024 (Sunday): Whit Sunday - Brandenburg
  • 20 May 2024 (Monday): Whit Monday - National
  • 30 May 2024 (Thursday): Corpus Christi - Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, and some local authorities in Saxony and Thuringia
  • 15 Aug 2024 (Thursday): Assumption Day - Saarland and some local authorities in Bavaria
  • 20 Sep 2024 (Friday): Children’s Day - Thuringia
  • 3 Oct 2024 (Thursday): Day of German Unity - National
  • 31 Oct 2024 (Thursday): Reformation Day - Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, Thuringia
  • 1 Nov 2024 (Friday): All Saints’ Day - Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saarland
  • 20 Nov 2024 (Wednesday): Repentance Day - Saxony
  • 25 Dec 2024 (Wednesday): Christmas Day - National
  • 26 Dec 2024 (Thursday): 2nd Day of Christmas - National

Sick Days

  • Eligible employees in Germany who have been employed for at least four weeks before taking sick leave receive full pay (100% of regular income) for up to six weeks under the policy of continued payment of wages during illness (Entgeltfortzahlung bei Krankheit oder Kur).
  • After the initial six weeks, the health insurance fund (Krankengeld) covers 70% to 90% of the regular salary, depending on the insured employee’s fund level, for up to 78 weeks within a three-year period for the same illness, starting from the first day of sickness.
  • Employees in Germany must notify their employer about their incapacity for work and the expected duration as soon as possible.
  • If an illness extends beyond three days, a doctor’s certificate must be provided by the next working day.
  • From 2023 onwards, doctors will transmit incapacity certificates electronically.

Maternity Leave

  • Pregnant employees in Germany are entitled to 14 weeks of paid maternity leave under the Maternity Protection Act (Mutterschutzgesetz – MuSchG), which extends to 18 weeks in cases of complicated or multiple births.

Maternity leave is split into two phases:

  • Prenatal leave: A minimum of 6 weeks before the anticipated due date.
  • Postnatal leave: The remaining 8 weeks starting from the child's birth.
  • Maternity benefits are covered by the public health insurance fund and are calculated based on the average net wages from the three months preceding the pregnancy. For employees with private health insurance, the state covers this amount, with a maximum cap of 210 EUR.
  • The public health insurance fund provides maternity benefits (Mutterschaftsgeld) up to a maximum of 13 EUR per day. If the daily net wage from the last three months is higher, the employer must pay a supplementary allowance (Zuschuss Zum Mutterschaftsgeld) to cover the difference.

Paternity Leave

Paternity leave in Germany is included as part of parental leave.

Parental Leave

  • New parents in Germany are legally entitled to unpaid parental leave (Elternzeit).
  • A written request must be submitted at least seven weeks before the start date.

Parental leave duration:

  • Total duration: 36 months, including eight weeks of postnatal leave.
  • Allocation: Can be shared between both parents.

Leave requirements:

  • First three years: At least 12 months must be taken within this period.
  • Remaining leave: With employer approval, can be used anytime between the child’s second and seventh birthday.

Work conditions during parental leave:

  • Part-time work: Parents in Germany can work up to 30 hours per week with prior employer permission.

Adoption Leave

In Germany, there is no specific legislation for adoption leave. Thus, adoptive parents receive the same parental leave entitlements as biological parents. Employees who adopt or foster children are eligible for up to three years of parental leave, which can be taken until the child turns eight years old.

Casual Leave

Germany's national labor law does not ensure a statutory right to casual leave. Nevertheless, you may offer unpaid leave at your discretion or in accordance with specific collective bargaining agreements.

Unpaid Leave

Unpaid leave in Germany can be granted under specific conditions before starting termination proceedings:

  • Emergency care for a close relative: Employees may receive up to 10 days of unpaid leave.
  • Companies with over 15 employees: Employees can request up to six months off or part-time work. If the company has fewer than 15 employees, this request can be denied.
  • Companies with more than 25 employees: Employees can request up to 24 months of reduced working hours, limited to 15 hours per week.

Hassle-Free Leave Policy Management in Germany with Gloroots

At Gloroots, we understand that navigating leave policies can be complex, especially when expanding your business and hiring across borders. Our platform ensures compliance with German labor laws, maintains clear leave balances, processes leave requests smoothly, and generates comprehensive leave reports. By partnering with Gloroots, you can focus on scaling your business while we handle the complexities of employee leave management. Contact us to discover how Gloroots can simplify your HR processes and enhance your operations in Germany.

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