Living and working conditions

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Working conditions

Leave (annual leave, parental leave, etc.)


The statutory minimum entitlement to leave is 24 working days per year (Federal Act on Leave [Bundesurlaubsgesetz]). Special rules apply to certain groups of people, including young people under the age of 18 and disabled people.


Collective agreements stipulate leave of 30 working days for most employees. A person’s salary continues to be paid in full during this period. Anyone who consistently performs heavy or hazardous work will normally receive additional leave. Some collective wage agreements include arrangements for specific events in one’s private life. For instance, some organisations grant individual and additional special leave days for marriage, the death of a close relative or for moving house if you are transferred to a different location. Full entitlement to leave is acquired only after the employment relationship has been in existence for 6 months.


There is in principle a ban on working on public holidays, to which there are some exceptions. The Public Holidays Acts [Feiertagsgesetz] of the individual federal states [Länder] determine the dates of public holidays in those Länder. The national public holidays are New Year’s Day (1 January), Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, Labour Day (1 May), Ascension Day, Whit Sunday and Whit Monday, Day of German Unity (3 October), Christmas Day and Boxing Day (25 and 26 December).


There are clear rules governing absence on grounds of illness. In the event of illness, an employee must inform the organisation of their incapacity for work and the anticipated duration of that incapacity as soon as possible. In the case of illness lasting longer than three days, an employee must submit a doctor’s certificate no later than the following working day.


During parental leave, parents can be released from work by the undertaking to look after their child – the employment relationship is thus in abeyance during parental leave. However, parental leave also gives male and female employees the opportunity to work part-time so that they are able to devote themselves to their child and at the same time keep up with their job. Each parent is entitled to parental leave to look after and bring up their child until it reaches the age of three.


Employees can take educational leave for the purpose of their further training. The Länder have their own laws on educational leave which govern paid leave from work. You can use this for your own citizenship education, language courses (e.g. ‘German as a foreign language’) or for your further vocational training. As for annual leave, you should agree arrangements for educational leave with your employer at an early stage.


Text last edited on: 07/2021