What is the purpose of vacation

Vacation leave: an overview of all rights and obligations

Some look forward to their well-deserved vacation all year round. Finally switch off, stop thinking about work. Leave the stress behind and relax at home or on a trip. So that you can enjoy your vacation and know what you are entitled to: Everything you need to look out for - important information, rights and obligations relating to a vacation vacation ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Recreational leave: Legal entitlement to regeneration

Employees are entitled to vacation leave. This entitlement arises from Section 1 of the Federal Holiday Act (BUrlG). There it says: “Every employee is entitled to paid vacation leave in every calendar year.” This right also applies to trainees, volunteers or persons similar to employees. This may even include self-employed or freelance workers.

The design of the vacation employees are free to do so. However, the term “recreational leave” is to be understood literally. In other words: The statutory vacation entitlement primarily serves to regenerate stress and exertion at work. Therefore - according to the Federal Holiday Act - all activities that stand in the way of the holiday purpose of recreation are prohibited. This includes, for example, toiling in a part-time job during the holidays. That way you will definitely not regain your strength and after your “relaxing holiday” you will be fresh and motivated to start your first day at work.

Reading tip / download:Free holiday checklist (PDF)

Vacation leave: when does the entitlement start?

The exact number of vacation days per year must be specified in the employment contract. However, this annual leave entitlement does not apply immediately upon starting the job. Most employees first have to complete a so-called trial period. The full vacation entitlement therefore only comes into force after a waiting period of six months.

However, that does not meanthat you cannot take vacation leave in the first six months of employment. Before the waiting period of six months is reached, you are entitled to one twelfth of the annual vacation per full month of employment according to Section 5 (1a) BUrlG. Assuming you are entitled to 24 days of vacation a year, you could take six days of vacation after three months. It gets a little more complicated when the math doesn't work out quite so smoothly.

With 20 vacation days per year, you are entitled to 1.66 days of vacation per month in the first six months. Since 0.66 days of vacation cannot be taken, the following applies according to the law: Entitlements to vacation leave that amount to at least half a day must be rounded up. Or calculated differently: After two months in the new job (2 x 1.66 = 3.32) you could take a maximum of three days of paid vacation.

How many days are I entitled to vacation?

The most important question when it comes to vacation leave is the number of vacation days per year. After all, the vacation is paid for. In other words: The duration of the vacation is not reflected in the salary. Even if you take your entire vacation leave in one go, you are entitled to the full salary by continuing to pay the vacation pay.

The length of vacation leave is also regulated in the Federal Holiday Act. In § 3 BUrlG it says: "The annual vacation is at least 24 working days." What sounds clear at first glance, it is not. The minimum vacation of 24 working days only applies to a 6-day week. Since many employees only have a 5-day week, the entitlement also varies: With 5 days, they are only entitled to 20 days of vacation. For example, if you work part-time 3 days a week, you are entitled to at least 12 days of vacation per year.

This minimum vacation must never be undercut. Such a passage in the employment contract would be invalid. The opposite is possible: In the employment contract, collective bargaining agreement or in a works agreement, a longer vacation leave can be specified.

Exceptions and special regulations

As a rule of thumb, you can remember that employees have at least four weeks of vacation leave per year. However, the right to vacation leave can be influenced by various factors. For example, severely disabled employees are entitled to five days of extra leave.

Youngsters up to 16 years of age in turn are entitled to at least 30 days of vacation leave. Up to the age of 17, this entitlement is still at least 27 working days and those under 18 are entitled to at least 25 days off.

Can I take vacation whenever I need it?

Employees understandably want to be free to decide on their vacation and then take it when it fits into their own vacation planning. The good news: the employer is legally obliged to take your vacation requirements into account. But that doesn't mean that you get the vacation every time you need it. The employer must always agree to your vacation request. Only then is it considered approved. And only then can you take your vacation.

In Section 7 (1) BUrlG, exceptions are mentioned in which the boss or HR department may reject a vacation request or not approve the vacation:

  • Urgent operational issues

    Your vacation leave can be refused for a certain period of time if there are “urgent operational reasons” against it. For example, if there is a threat of staff shortages at a particularly important and busy time. For example, the boss refuses to give a sales person a vacation right before Christmas because that is the peak in terms of sales in retail.

  • Vacation wishes of other employees

    This is not about two colleagues wanting to take vacation leave at the same time (there would be "urgent operational reasons" against this). Rather, it is the social aspects that are decisive when considering vacation requests. Most common case: employees with school-age children. They can only go on family vacation during the holidays. Therefore, they are preferable to childless workers when granting leave during this period.

Can I take the entire vacation at once?

Employees have the right to consecutive leave. So the boss cannot expect you to only take your entire vacation on individual days. Part of the vacation must be granted on at least 12 consecutive working days so that you can really regenerate yourself or travel further away on vacation.

On the other hand, do you want it for 20 or 24 days a year Going on vacation at a stretch could again speak against it for operational reasons. For example, because the position cannot remain vacant for such a long time. So that again depends on the boss's approval. As a rule of thumb, however, you can remember: You have to be granted two weeks of vacation at a time.

Vacation leave must be applied for and granted

In principle, you must apply to your employer for vacation leave. There may be different regulations for this depending on the company. What they all have in common is that the application must be made in writing (at least by email). So you too have something in hand that you can use as receipt in case of doubt. Because…

The application alone is not enough to be able to go on vacation. The employer must also agree to this and approve the vacation. Only then can you stay away from work during this time. Anyone who goes on vacation without permission (legal term: "self-leave") risks at least one warning. In the event of repetition, there is even a risk of termination. In addition, the boss can refuse to pay a salary for this time if employees are on leave themselves or do not come to work without permission or excuse.

This applies even if the application for vacation leave has been unlawfully refused. Such problems are the exception and an indication of a difficult working atmosphere. Nevertheless, in such cases, employees have no choice but to sue the labor court for their vacation leave.

Can the boss cancel or reverse vacation leave?

With the consent to vacation leave, there is hardly anything in the way of taking time off from work. The boss may not simply withdraw the vacation permit. A revocation of vacation leave could only be justified by an existential threat to the continued existence of the company. And even then, the boss would have to reimburse you for any costs (cancellation fees, etc.) for the vacation you booked. Already approved vacation leave is therefore practically never revoked.

Come in addition: Once you are on vacation, you no longer need to be available. Unless otherwise agreed in advance. If you follow a callback by the employer while on vacation, this is only done by mutual consent and voluntarily by yours. In this case, too, you can have all costs reimbursed. In addition, you have the right to make up your leave at another point in time.

Vacation: What to do if I get sick

Nobody wants that, but it can happen: you get sick on vacation. There are two things you need to do immediately:

  • See a doctor (also abroad) and have your incapacity for work diagnosed and certified immediately.
  • Then contact the employer immediately and inform them about the sick leave.

After that, you don't have to go back home straight away (You may have to be in bed, too). Both steps - signing off sick leave and reporting sick leave - are absolutely necessary if you want to keep your vacation entitlement. Only those who “officially” fall ill (written) can make up for these vacation days later. The entitlement to this does not then expire. Reason: Anyone who is sick cannot “recover”, but at best can recover.

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