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Vacation planning 2020: entitlements and deadlines for the application

Vacation entitlement: what am I actually entitled to?

In Germany, the Federal Holiday Act (BurlG) regulates the claims, rights and obligations relating to paid leave. This is used for health protection and prevention. Employees who work a five-day week are therefore entitled to at least 20 days of vacation. Most companies, however, offer six weeks, i.e. a good 30 days of vacation. This also applies to part-time employees who work in the company every day. An employee is only entitled to full vacation entitlement six months after the start of the employment relationship. If - in the case of a change of employer - the previous employer has already used all of the annual vacation, then the new company will no longer be entitled to vacation for this year either.

When does the application have to be with the boss?

Many employers ask their employees to submit their vacation requests very early, often by the end of the previous year. From a purely legal point of view, employees do not have to comply with this request. However, this can also have disadvantages for individual vacation planning, for example when it comes to popular vacation times such as holidays or unpopular services at Christmas time. According to the motto "first come, first served", bosses can then give priority to applications submitted early. Another restriction are company holidays. Companies can force employees to take vacations during this time. Important: In relation to the total vacation entitlement, employees can determine more than two fifths of the annual vacation themselves. In addition, every employee is entitled to twelve consecutive working days as vacation.

The vacation application: what must go in?

A vacation application does not necessarily have to be submitted in writing. Some companies regulate this through informal notices or verbal promises. In order to avoid discrepancies, however, a written confirmation is also recommended here. Large companies usually work with written applications. If there is no submission from the company, the address, personnel number, position, the number of vacation days requested and the period on the application should not be missing.

What are the deadlines?

Basically, the following applies: Vacation must be used within the calendar year. However, there is a special feature here: According to a decision by the European Court of Justice, this only applies if the employer expressly points out that outstanding vacation must be taken or otherwise no longer applicable. If the notice is missing, the deadline is extended to the end of March of the following year.

Usually, requests for leave must be submitted at least 14 days before the start of the holiday. However, there may be individual regulations in the company. Submitted applications should be answered by the employer within seven to ten days. However, there is no explicit statutory deadline for this. The following applies to employees: No answer does not automatically mean approval. The vacation is still considered not approved. If you are absent without permission, this is considered an unexcused absence from work or a refusal to perform and can have consequences under labor law, including dismissal. It's best to check again! If the vacation has been approved, it is binding for both parties.

Application rejected - what now?

While some prefer vacation the days before public holidays or bridging days, employees with school-age children particularly prefer vacation periods. However, if many wishes fall at the same time, they can usually not be fulfilled within one company at the same time. So there are some rules. In principle, employees have no legal right to vacation on a specific date. The employer should take wishes into account, but this is not always possible for a variety of reasons. There are two reasons why employers can refuse leave requests:

Urgent operational issues
If the company is in high season, i.e. the hot summer in the ice cream parlor or the Christmas season in the retail trade, employers can reject holiday applications. This is also possible if parts of the workforce have already been absent at this time, for example due to a flu epidemic, but also at times of weather and environmental disasters.

Vacation wishes of other employees
If the vacation requests of different employees overlap, the boss can approve vacation according to social criteria. Preference can then be given to parents of school-age children or employees with spouses in special professions (e.g. teachers). But age and years of work in the company can also play a role. In some cases there are holiday regulations. It makes it possible for the employee who has not received his vacation request one or more times to get the approval in the following year. This is usually called the rolling model.

According to the Works Constitution Act, the works council has a say in questions of vacation. If the employee and employer cannot come to an agreement, the works council may help. In the event of a rejection, an action at the labor court is possible. Employees should only consider this if the employer has not given a valid reason for the refusal.

Can already gapproved vacation be canceled?

No. Once leave has been granted, it can only be canceled with the consent of the employee. If this is the case, the employee can ask the employer to cover costs incurred, such as cancellation costs for a booked flight. If a vacation is to be ended early, this is only possible with the consent of the employee.