Vacations and public holidays in GermanyOctober, 2014
Not counting weekends, on average every German worker will count with a minimum of 30 leisure days every year. But that legal minimum can depend on a number of factors. Let's check them out.
Every employer has the right to offer a number of paid vacation days (or paid leave, however you want to call it) to its employees. In Germany, like in most of the world and unlike in the USA, there is a minimum amount of days that the employer is legally required to provide.
If you’ve done a little bit of research about the minimum paid leave in Germany, you might have noticed a little bit of discrepancy where some sources indicate 20 and others 24. This is because in the German law there are 2 types of working days, Werktage and Arbeitstage.
For people working on a 6-day workweek, such as retail clerks, a working day is called a Werktag, and the statutory minimum holiday is 24 Werktage per year. For people working on a 5-day workweek, such as white-collar or office workers , a working day is called a Arbeitstag, and the statutory minimum holiday is 20 Arbeitstage per year.
All in all. Every worker is entitled to a minimum of 4 full weeks of paid leave every year. That said, it's perfectly common in Germany for employers to offer more than that.
The number of available public holidays varies tremendously in Germany depending on where you are. There is only one national paid public holiday. That is October 3rd, the Tag der Deutschen Einheit or Day of German Unity, when Germans celebrate the country's reunification in 1990. Then, every federal state chooses its own public holidays, which combined with the national one makes a total that ranges between Berlin’s 9 days and Munich’s 13 days every year.
The list of public holidays that every German can count on is:
- New Year's Day 1 January
- Good Friday
- Easter Monday
- Labor Day 1 May
- Ascension Day
- Whit Monday
- German Unity Day 3 October
- Christmas Day 25 December
- St Stephen's Day 26 December
The differences lie on the different religious traditions of the catholic south-west and the protestant north-east. For example while in Brandenburg they celebrate Reformation Day on October 31, Bavarians will have to wait for the All Saints holiday the next day. Checkout this illustrative Wikipedia table with all the holidays.
In Germany there are no local public holidays. So if you work in Munich don’t expect anything during the Oktoberfest unless your employer is into the festivities. But there is one honourable exception, the Bavarian city of Augsburg, which every August celebrates the the Peace Festival or Hohes Friedensfest. This allows Augsburg to hold the title of place with the most public holidays in all Germany with 14. Not bad.