Germany Leave Laws

Do you operate in Germany, or have employees located in Germany? If so, it will do you good to get familiar with Germany’s leave laws and general expectations of employees in Germany, in regards to public holidays, annual leave, sick leave, parental leave and more.

This page is intended for reference purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please see official government sources or consult a legal professional for actual legal advice.

Germany Public Holidays

There are 9 public holidays celebrated nationwide in Germany. Alongside this, each region have a number of additional public holidays, which aren’t necessarily observed in every state.

Here are the national public holidays for 2024 in Germany (along with Reformation Day, which is a regional holiday for more than half the country):

January 1New Year’s Day
March 29Good Friday
March 31Easter Sunday
May 1Labor Day
May 9Ascension Day
May 20Whit Monday
October 3Day of German Unity
October 31Reformation Day (select regions only)
December 25Christmas Day
December 26Saint Stephen’s Day

Many companies also observe Christmas Eve (December 24th) and New Year’s Eve (December 31st), and give a whole or half day off on these days, although they are not statutory holidays.

Generally, holidays do not transfer to the next working day if they fall on a weekend, as is the case in a lot of countries.

Public Holiday Pay

Workers receive their normal pay, along with a day off, for a public holiday. If they work on a public holiday, they should receive an additional paid day off to compensate within 8 weeks.

Annual Leave in Germany

Employees in Germany are entitled to 4 weeks of paid leave per year. That comes to 24 days off for employees working a 6-day work week, and 20 days of leave for employees working 5 days per week.

Severely disabled employees are given an additional 5 days’ paid leave each year.

To be eligible for the statutory leave requirements, employees must first work six months with their employer.

When on paid time off, the employee will receive their full rate of pay, calculated based on their average salary over the preceding 13 weeks.

Accruals & Rollovers

Annual leave generally expires at the end of the calendar year. In some cases, where the employee could not take leave because of operational or personal reasons, they may be allowed to carry it over until 31st of March in the next calendar year.

Outside of this, it’s up to the employer’s discretion whether they allow you to carry over unused leave.

Paying Out Leave

Leave days can only be paid out as cash upon leaving one’s job. Any unused holidays will be paid out upon termination. However, the employer can require an employee to take any unused leave during their notice period.

Sick Leave/Medical Leave in Germany

Anyone employed for at least 4 weeks is entitled to sick leave. Employees can take up to 6 weeks of sick leave, paid at their full salary, by their employer. This applies per sickness or illness, as opposed to per year. If an employee falls ill for a new reason, they will be allowed a fresh 6 weeks’ of sick leave.

If the employee is sick for longer than 6 weeks, they can receive a sickness benefit from national health insurance, paid out at 70% of their gross salary.

Sick leave covers both physical and mental illness. The employee must inform their employer immediately should they intend to take sick leave, and should submit a note from a doctor if they are away for more than 3 consecutive days.

Maternity Leave in Germany

Employees in Germany are entitled to 6 weeks of paid maternity leave prior to giving birth, and 8 weeks paid maternity leave after the birth. For premature or multiple births, this can be raised to 12 weeks post-birth.

Paternity Leave in Germany

There is no strictly stated paternity leave law in Germany, however there is an entitlement to parental leave. Workers in Germany can take as much parental leave as they wish between the birth of their child and the child’s third birthday (thus a maximum of 3 years’ parental leave).

This applies to both mothers and fathers. Parental leave can be taken by mother and father simultaneously, or separate.

Employers do not have to pay employees while they are on parental leave, but the worker’s employment cannot be terminated (except for extreme circumstances, such as if the business closes), and they have the right to return to work at the same level and position they were prior to parental leave.

Parents can claim parental allowance, or Elterngeld, from the government while on parental leave, and receive a portion of their regular income.

Additional Leave Types

Bereavement Leave in Germany

Bereavement leave is not stipulated by law in Germany. However, most workplaces offer two days of bereavement leave in the case of the death of a close relative.

Carer’s Leave

Employees can take leave, and are protected from dismissal, in the case of needing to care for close relatives. This is unpaid leave, an entitlement of 10 days off per year.

Official Resources

This page is intended for reference purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please see official government sources or consult a legal professional for actual legal advice.

timeline illustration

Flamingo is a leave management solution built for modern teams.

No more cluttered spreadsheets and manual data entry. Manage your entire team's leave, directly from Slack, and speed up your leave management workflow.

Learn more Sign Up Free