German politicians call for workers to get day off for public holidays that fall on weekends

In Germany when a public holiday falls on a weekend, the government does not allocate a day off in the week, unlike countries such as the UK and the US. Could this be about to change?

German politicians call for workers to get day off for public holidays that fall on weekends
A popular holiday spot in Germany at the coast in Boltenhagen, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Photo: DPA

German politicians from various political parties are calling for public holidays that fall on a weekend to be offered to employees during the work week as a day off, in what they are calling a ‘corona bonus’.

According to a report in the Saarbrücker Zeitung on Monday, the debate started due to an unusually large number of public holidays which fall on a weekend in 2021, including Labour Day on May 1st, German Unity Day on October 3rd and the Christmas holidays.

This year both December 24th and 25th fall on the weekend.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What (and where) are Germany's public holidays in 2021?

“It would be a recognition and a simple corona bonus if the following Monday were then free for workers,” Social Democratic Parliamentary group vice chairman Dirk Wiese told the newspaper on Monday.

National leader of Left Party (die Linke), Jörg Schindler, also called for employers be obliged to offer compensation for employees the following week.

The ‘Working Hours Act’ should be amended accordingly, he said, meaning that the right to take back holidays which fall on the weekend would stretch beyond 2021. 

The labour market policy spokesperson for the Greens, Beate Müller-Gemmeke, stressed: “Holidays are days of rest for people.”

Therefore, the issue must now be debated “in a calm manner,” she said.

A previous push

The Left Party in the Bundestag had already made several attempts to introduce compensation regulations for public holidays which land over the weekend. 

In 2018, it pointed out in a motion that more than 85 countries had compensation regulations for public holidays that fell on a Sunday.

In addition to national holidays, each of Germany’s 16 states have their own holidays, with some states having several more days off per year than others.

Bavaria is the state with the most public holidays, or 13.

Late last year, The Local asked readers in Germany if public holidays which fall on weekends should be compensated the coming week. An overwhelming majority were in favour.

READ ALSO: Should Germany ensure workers get a day off for every public holiday?

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Could sleeper trains offer Germans cheap, low-carbon travel across Europe?

Several political parties in Germany have said they want to bring back sleeper trains in order to meet carbon emissions targets.

Could sleeper trains offer Germans cheap, low-carbon travel across Europe?
A sleeper train in Austria. Photo: dpa/APA | Georg Hochmuth

The Green party have said that they want to put state subsidies into night trains that will connect Germany with cities as far flung as St Petersburg in the north and Lisbon in the south.

According to the environmentalist party’s plans, 40 night rail lines could connect 200 destinations across the continent including islands like Mallorca, which would be linked in by train and ferry.

The Greens want the EU to buy a fleet of sleeper trains that could travel at speeds of between 200 km/h and 250 km/h.

The CDU have also announced plans to rebuild the country’s sleeper train services.

Deutsche Bahn stopped its last sleeper service in 2016 citing the high costs involved in maintaining its fleet that was not recuperated through ticket sales.

Earlier this year the state owned company said it had “no plans” to purchase new sleeper wagons.