The primary reason for abandoning their holidays is concern about losing their job, a survey of German Trade Unions (DGB) shows. The report, titled 'No time for rest? How widespread is giving up holiday?' was based on figures from 2015.
Two industries where workers most frequently give up their holidays are in the cleaning (47 percent) and building (45 percent) trades, as well as civil servants, 41 percent of whom don't take their full holiday.
At the other end of the scale, those working in service jobs including advertising and marketing are the most likely to take full advantage of their allocated holiday, with eight of ten doing so.
The more hours worked each week, the more likely workers are to sacrifice their holiday. Half of those who work 48-hour weeks or more skip their holidays, compared to just 26 percent of those who work part-time, less than 20 hours a week. The other key factor was job security; the more employees were worried about redundancy, the more likely they were to work through their holidays.
Unionists argue employers should make sure that workers are getting a break.
"The employer has a duty of care. Especially when there is a lot of pressure at work, it is important to have holiday time to recover, to stay healthy," Annelie Buntenbach, a DGB board member, said in a statement.
In Germany, those working a five-day week are entitled to 20 paid days off each year, plus public holidays which vary according to region.