Right of way for parents – the most important questions about their very own vacation rules, management blog

What happens behind the curtains of the companies?

Can my boss simply reject the vacation application? What if several in one department want to go on vacation at the same time? Then what criteria do superiors have to note? You have to accept company holidays?

The most important legal questions on the subject are answered by labor lawyer Katrin Scheicht, labor lawyer and partner at Norton Rose Fulbright

Katrin Scheicht, employment lawyer at Norton Rose Fulbright

How much vacation employee per year?

Katrin Scheicht: With a five-day week, every employee is entitled to at least 20 days a year, with a six-day week at least 24 days vacation, the law says. Severely disabled people with at least 50 degrees of disability have five days more vacation. However: In many employment and collective agreements, more vacation days are provided, so that in Germany most employees get 25 to 30 days of vacation per year.

When can an employer reject the vacation request of its employees??

The principle is: Employees are free to choose the time of their vacation. Employers may only refuse vacation if there are urgent operational issues or vacation wishes conflict with those of colleagues who have priority.

"Urgent operational issues" are for example:

  • the understaffing of the department due to high sick leave,
  • a lot of work because of an additional order or
  • industry-specific highs such as the pre-Christmas business in retail.

In the event of a collision: What if several employees want to go on vacation at the same time??

If the boss decides on conflicting vacation requests, social considerations are decisive.

The hierarchy doesn’t matter

The hierarchy is not a priority: even the boss, for example, has to step back as a single if his employee has children and is dependent on school holidays.

Social criteria are the criteria

Who gets the vacation they want depends on social reasons. If a manager has to coordinate a department, these are the criteria that he must observe:

  • Older age
  • long years of service
  • school-age children
  • Recuperation as well
  • working spouse of employees.

The decision as to who has priority always depends on the specific case. A rule of thumb:

  • During school holidays, primarily employees with school-age children are allowed to take holidays.
  • Right of way has priority if you have health reasons. For example: If a strong allergy sufferer wants to flee to the sea before the pollen season.
  • Vacation wishes of older, childless employees with a long period of employment have priority over those of their younger, childless colleagues with a shorter period of employment.
  • But even a younger, single or childless employee does not always have to take his vacation in November, especially if long-distance travel is canceled for financial reasons.

In order to meet the holiday wishes of all employees, a rolling system or early planning and coordination is often appropriate – if necessary in coordination with the works council.

How much time can the employer take when approving or rejecting a vacation application?

Employers must decide on the vacation application within a reasonable time. It makes a difference whether a single employee wants to take a short vacation or a large part of the workforce is already planning summer vacation in January. The important thing is: silence does not mean agreeing. If the employer is silent on a holiday application, it is therefore not considered approved. If there is a works council, there are usually agreements in the company that regulate the procedure and the reasons for granting or refusing vacation.

What happens when an employee gets sick on vacation?

If the employee gets sick during his vacation, he can save these days by getting a certificate from the doctor at the vacation location. Then he can make up for these days later. This also applies if he gets sick before the vacation and therefore cannot start the vacation at all.

Employees must be available to their boss on vacation?

According to the law, the company has to grant the holiday irrevocably and “exempt from the obligation to work”. Therefore, workers on vacation are not required to use their smartphone against their will & Co to be reachable.

May the company request employees back from vacation?

Exception: In real emergencies such as imminent danger, fire or flood disasters or the impending spoilage of large quantities of goods. In an existential crisis of the company, even a major saving order can be a reason to exceptionally get employees back from vacation.

What happens if an employee comes back from vacation late?

Then it depends on whether he is responsible for the reason himself: he risks a warning and – if it happens several times – even his dismissal if he left too late at the holiday destination or takes his own vacation. However, if an employee comes back from vacation too late because he was the victim of an airline strike or a volcanic cloud over Europe, the company does not have to pay him a salary for these days.

Are workers allowed to do other jobs on vacation??

Employees are not allowed job perform, which contradicts the holiday purpose – it should relax. Paid activities that make an effort on him are therefore generally excluded. However, a certain amount of physical balancing work, such as in agriculture, is possible for office workers, for example. Labor courts have already ruled that physical balancing work for a mental worker can definitely represent relaxation and is therefore permissible. What is forbidden in any case: any form of activity for a competitor of the employer during the vacation period.

Employees must accept company holidays as prescribed by the employer?

In companies without a works council, employers can close temporarily or temporarily for urgent operational reasons. For example, because their suppliers or customers also go on vacation. Then all employees have a uniform vacation during this time. Another example: coordinated attendance times of the boss and the employees are required in medical practices. The nurse alone cannot treat patients. Doctors are therefore entitled to order company holidays. You just have to keep in mind that employees can still choose around half of their vacation days.


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Christina Cherry
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