Holidays with school-age children: how is this regulated in labor law?

Vacation with school-age children – what does labor law say?

Spring is here. Not long, then summer awaits us and with it the great annual vacation for many.

Vacation with school-age children / Image: altanaka / Shutterstock

Parents of school-age children are dependent on the official school holidays if they want to go on holiday with the whole family. In practice, it often looks like that employees with children are given priority when planning their vacation when it comes to being able to take vacation during the school holidays.

Employees without children often have to back off and plan their vacation outside of the holiday season. But what if employees with and without children cannot agree among themselves? Parents actually have priority on the part of the legislature with regard to their vacation wishes?

Holidays with school-age children – Parents have priority over the holiday season?

The legal basis for planning vacation days is the Federal Vacation Law (BUrlG), also called vacation law. Section 7 of the BUrlGs sentence 1 reads as follows:

"When determining the vacation time, the vacation wishes of the employee are to be taken into account, unless their consideration includes urgent operational matters or vacation requests of other employees who from a social point of view deserve priority, oppose. "

In view of the statement “from a social point of view”, the employer has the task of weighing which employees are most likely to need a vacation during school holidays. Different scenarios are possible:

  • An employee has children who are still at school and, as a result, can only go away with them during school holidays.
  • An employee has a partner who is only granted leave at certain times. In order to be able to go on holiday with the partner, the partner must be coordinated.
  • An employee was in rehabilitation, such as a cure, and would like to claim his vacation right immediately afterwards. In this case, according to the BurlG, the employer would even be legally obliged to allow the vacation, even if operational reasons speak against it.

In general, employees who work five days a week are entitled to a minimum of 20 days’ leave, and a 6-day week gives you at least 24 days. However, the employer can grant more vacation days.
As far as the allocation of these vacation days is concerned, employees are initially free to decide how they plan their vacation days. However, leave requests can be rejected by the employer if appointments collide with those of colleagues or if there are urgent operational reasons against the leave within a certain period. Such reasons can be, for example, a seasonal workload or the situation that an urgent order has to be completed because otherwise the customer could be lost. According to labor law, parents are given priority when planning their vacation. In principle, however, they are not entitled to preferential treatment. This leads to conflicts when planning your vacation – both with other parents and with childless colleagues.

Fair solutions can be found?

Can fair solutions be found? / Picture: ESB Professional / Shutterstock

In order to maintain operational peace and maintain a good relationship with your colleagues, you should exchange ideas with them. It would be best to find a compromise together. Perhaps colleagues can agree among themselves that those with school-age children can take two weeks off vacation during school holidays. In return, childless employees can still get a week’s vacation in the summer months.
With regard to vacation planning, so-called rolling systems ensure that employees with children alternate annually in who is allowed to name their vacation dates first. Such internal regulations ensure fairness and thus prevent resentment among colleagues.
Another solution can be that employees who do not get a vacation during the holiday season are given preferential treatment when planning the bridge days.


In general, parents with children do not have an unlimited right to vacation during the holiday seasons. If there are discrepancies between employees regarding the vacation applications, the employer has the task of ensuring a balanced distribution from a social point of view. The works council can also provide support in the event of discrepancies. In accordance with Section 87 sentence 1 of the Works Constitution Act, he has a right of co-determination on vacation issues.

For employees with school-age children who want to enjoy a vacation with the whole family, the cost factor often plays a not insignificant role in addition to scheduling. A family vacation can be an expensive trip, especially in the high season. An installment loan gives you the opportunity to finance your vacation with the whole family relatively easily and at short notice. This allows you to freely decide which time of year or holiday you would like to go on holiday with and is more independent of other colleagues’ holiday plans, whether with or without school-age children.

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Christina Cherry
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