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Germany paid time off

In Germany, employees’ well-being is highly valued, and as a result, the country has established a comprehensive regulation governing paid time off and leave. These regulations provide workers with a generous number of paid leaves to take time off to attend to personal or family matters. By valuing employees’ need for rest and leisure, companies create a positive work environment that promotes engagement and productivity.

To remain compliant with labour laws, employers in Germany must stay informed about the specific regulations on paid leave and time off. In this guide, we will provide relevant information regarding paid time off, public holidays, sick leave, and other types of work leave to help you manage employee expectations and maintain legal compliance.

Germany leave policy

In Germany, the employment leave policy is governed by strict regulations designed to safeguard the rights of employees while ensuring business compliance. It’sIt is essential to understand these policies to create an attractive and top-notch benefits package for your employees.

Annual leave policy in Germany

Employees working a regular 5-day week are entitled to a minimum 20 working days of paid annual leave, while 24 working days of paid annual leave for those working a regular 6-day week, as set by the Bundesurlaubsgesetz – the Federal Holidays Act.

The leave entitlement increases with age and length of service, with some collective agreements or employment contracts offering more than the statutory minimum.

Since 2023, employees in Germany have been allowed to carry over their unused vacation days for up to three years. This exciting policy change in the annual leave (Urlaubsanspruch) entitlement means that employees can take time off when they need it without worrying about losing their unused vacation time. The specific number of Urlaubstage entitlements is typically included in the employment contract or collective agreement, depending on the industry in which they work. 

In addition, many collective agreements increase the annual leave (Urlaubstage) entitlement to 30 working days, providing employees with more time off to recharge and rejuvenate. Furthermore, if the nature of an employee’s job is considered high risk, they may be entitled to additional leave beyond their standard Urlaubstage allocation. 

Public holidays in Germany

There are nine national holidays that all states observe. However, public holidays vary depending on the state. In Germany, if a public holiday falls on a weekend, it is generally not carried over or compensated. 

Sick days

Employees in Germany are entitled to sick leave benefits in case of illness. The duration of paid sick leave typically depends on the length of employment and is covered by statutory health insurance. 

Eligible employees, defined as those who have been employed for at least four weeks before commencing sick leave, are entitled to sick pay equivalent to 100% of their regular income for a period of up to six weeks (Entgeltfortzahlung bei Krankheit oder Kur). Following the initial six-week period, the responsibility for sick pay shifts to the health insurance fund (Krankengeld). In this phase, the fund typically provides between 70% and 90% of the employee’s regular salary, determined by the individual’s insurance coverage level. This support can last for up to 78 weeks within a three-year period for incapacity due to the same illness, starting on the first day of sickness.

To facilitate the smooth administration of sick leave benefits, employees are required to promptly inform their employer of their incapacity for work and provide an estimated duration of their absence. In cases where an illness extends beyond three days, employees must furnish a doctor’s certificate no later than the following working day to validate their absence from work. Notably, starting in 2023, the process of submitting working incapacity certificates will transition to digital platforms, allowing for electronic transmission by healthcare providers.

Maternity, paternity, and parental leave in Germany

Maternity leave policy in Germany 

Expectant mothers are entitled to a period of 14 weeks of paid maternity leave (Mutterschutzgesetz – MuSchG) to ensure their well-being during pregnancy and following childbirth. This period can increase by up to 18 weeks in the event of premature birth or complications. 

Maternity leave in Germany consists of two periods:

  • Prenatal leave: Pregnant employees can take a minimum of 6 weeks before their expected due date.
  • Postnatal leave: Employees can take up to 12 weeks following the birth of their child. This period can be extended with complicated births.

Job protection for pregnant employees

One significant aspect of maternity leave policy in Germany is the protection of the pregnant employee’s job status. It is illegal for employers to terminate an employee due to pregnancy or maternity leave. In addition, new mothers have the right to return to their previous position or a comparable role upon resuming work.

Maternity leave pay in Germany

During maternity leave, employees are typically entitled to receive maternity pay from their public health insurance fund, which amounts to approximately 13 euros per day. However, if an employee’s average daily net wage over the last three months exceeds this amount, the employer is required to provide a supplementary payment, known as “Zuschuss Zum Mutterschaftsgeld,” to bridge the difference. This additional contribution ensures that the employee receives maternity pay equivalent to their pre-pregnancy earnings.

For employees covered by public health insurance, the payment comprises a combination of contributions from the insurance fund and the employer, with a maximum cap of €210.

Paternity leave in Germany

In Germany, paternity leave is part of the parental leave known as “Elternzeit.”

Parental leave policy in Germany

The parental leave, commonly referred to as “Elternzeit,” allows both mothers and fathers to take time off work to care for their newborn or young child, with the option to extend up to three years per child. New parents must request the leave in writing at least seven weeks before the start date.

Employees have the right to job protection during this time, which means that their position or an equivalent role must be available upon their return to the workplace.

The parental leave policy in Germany extends for a total of 36 months, which includes eight weeks of postnatal leave. This period can be shared between the parents, with flexibility in how it is utilised. The regulation stipulates that the parents must take a minimum of 12 months of parental leave within the first three years of the child’s life. The remainder of the leave can be taken with the permission of the employer at any point between the child’s second and seventh birthdays.

Parental allowance for parental leave

Another critical aspect of paid parental leave policy in Germany is the provision of financial support through parental allowance, known as “Elterngeld.” The parental allowance is designed to replace a portion of the parent’s income during the leave period. The amount of parental allowance is calculated based on the parent’s previous income and can be received for a period of up to 14 months. Flexible work arrangements Employers in Germany are encouraged to support flexible work arrangements for employees returning from parental leave. This approach not only fosters a supportive work environment but also enables businesses to retain valuable talent while accommodating the diverse needs of their workforce.

Adoption leave in Germany

Adoption leave in Germany is designed to support the integration of an adopted child into the family.

Do people who adopt babies get maternity leave in Germany?

Individuals who adopt babies are entitled to adoption leave, which is different from maternity leave. Adoption leave allows adoptive parents to take time off from work to care for the newly adopted child. The duration of adoption leave varies based on the specific circumstances.

Parental allowance for adoption leave

During adoption leave, adoptive parents may also be eligible for financial support from the government in the form of a parental allowance. This aims to provide assistance to individuals who temporarily work less or not at all due to the adoption, enabling them to better manage their financial needs while focusing on the care and adjustment of the adopted child into the family.

The parental allowance provides financial support for parents following the birth or adoption of a child. This benefit is paid for up to a year and encompasses approximately 67% of the parent’s prenatal income, with monthly payments ranging between €300 to €1,800. The payment can be extended to 14 months if the second parent also takes a leave from work for at least two months.

Flexibility and work arrangements

Adoptive parents in Germany may also have the option to work part-time during the adoption process, subject to prior permission from the employer. This flexibility recognises the diverse needs of employees during this significant life event.

Types of leave in Germany

In Germany, employees may be entitled to additional types of leave beyond the mandated paid time off and sick leave. Depending on the collective bargaining agreement, employers and employees may agree to additional leave types, such as family care time.

The employer can define the terms and conditions of taking additional leave. These agreements can also outline the eligibility criteria, notice periods, compensation benefits for the employee taking leave, and the ways or methods for tracking and documenting the time off.

Here are some other types of leave that are not mandated by law:

  • Unpaid leave: This allows employees to take time off from work without pay for personal reasons or to attend to family matters. While the duration and conditions of unpaid leave can vary, it typically provides employees with the flexibility to manage situations that fall outside the scope of statutory leaves, such as caring for a family member or pursuing personal endeavours.
  • Extended or supplementary benefits: Other non-statutory leaves may overlap with statutory entitlements. For example, many employers in Germany offer more than the statutory minimum of paid leaves. While employees are entitled to a minimum of 20 days of paid vacation, many companies are offering between 25 and 30 days of leave annually.
  • Bereavement leave: It allows employees to take a few days of paid leave following the death of a close relative.

Burnout leave in Germany

Employers in Germany do offer work stress leave, particularly in the form of burnout leave, also known as “erschöpfungsbedingte Arbeitsunfähigkeit.” This type of leave is designed to support employees experiencing severe work-related stress and burnout. It allows affected employees to take a substantial period of paid time off to recover and restore their well-being.

Under Germany’s burnout leave policy, employees who are suffering from burnout can take up to 72 weeks of paid leave. To qualify for burnout leave, employees must obtain medical certification from a healthcare professional confirming the diagnosis of burnout. This certification acts as proof of the need for extended leave due to medical reasons.

After the completion of burnout leave, employers should ensure a smooth transition back to work for the employee. A phased return or modified work schedule may be considered to ease the employee back into their role, promoting a successful reintegration process.

While offering additional types of leave in Germany may not be mandated by law, it can serve as a valuable benefit for employees and promote a company’s positive work culture. Employers in Germany can increase employee satisfaction and retention rates by providing sufficient support for employees’ personal well-being and work-life balance. This results in a more productive and motivated workforce.

Public holidays in Germany

Germany observes a total of nine national public holidays, with variations in specific holidays depending on the region. These holidays include:

1 January
New Year’s Day
29 March
Good Friday
1 April
Easter Monday
1 May
Labour Day
9 May
Ascension Day
20 May
Whit Monday
3 October
Day of German Unity
25 December
Christmas Day
26 December
Second Day of Christmas

Some public holidays have regional variations, known as “Länder holidays,” which are specific to certain federal states in Germany. Employers operating in multiple regions should be aware of these variations and adjust their workforce management strategies accordingly.

Employers should also consider the impact of public holidays on staffing, operational schedules, and employee compensation. It is crucial to plan for potential closures, reduced staffing levels, and any necessary adjustments to work schedules.

Stay compliant with CXC

Managing a large number of workers while staying up to date with changing labour laws and regulations can be overwhelming—unless you partner with a reliable global employment solution provider like CXC. 

At CXC, we understand the challenges you face in scaling your business. That is why our comprehensive EOR solution lets you quickly and compliantly find, manage, and engage with workers wherever they are located. We provide you with a team of experts that stays up to date with the latest legal changes and requirements, ensuring that you remain compliant and avoid costly penalties. This enables you to focus on what matters most: growing your business. 

Speak to our team today and we will guide you on how to enter into new markets quickly and compliantly.

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