German politicians call for ‘lost’ public holidays to be replaced

Politicians from the left in Germany are calling for public holidays which fall on the weekend to be moved to a weekday in order to give employees more rest from work.

German politicians call for 'lost' public holidays to be replaced
The Maifest oarty in Berlin was held on May 1st annually before the pandemic. Photo: dpa | Bernd von Jutrczenka

Labour Day, which is celebrated on May 1st, is a public holiday throughout Germany. But this year it falls on a Sunday, meaning Germans will miss out on one of their ten or so public holidays of the year.

In fact, 2022 is not a great year for public holidays. New Year’s day was already lost to a weekend this year, while Christmas Day will also fall on a Sunday.

While the number of public holidays varies from federal state to federal state, what is true across the country is that ones that fall on the weekend are simply not replaced, something that politicians from Die Linke and the Greens say is unfair on workers.

“Every lost holiday means more stress and less urgently needed rest from the stresses of work and the pandemic,” Jan Korte, a senior member of Die Linke, told the Rheinische Post on Monday.

READ ALSO: How do Germany’s public holidays compare to other EU countries?

He added that the Left Party would take parliamentary action “to ensure that no more public holidays are cancelled in the future.”

Beate Müller-Gemmeke, the Green Party’s labour market expert, agreed that the Bundestag should have a debate about whether holidays that fall on a weekend can be

“Of course it is annoying for employees when precisely Labour Day, the May 1st holiday, falls on a Sunday,” she said. “It is now time to discuss socially how holidays that fall on a Sunday can be made up, as is already the case in a number of countries.”

Polling conducted by YouGov last year found that roughly half of Germans supported replacing lost public holidays. Meanwhile, a snap Twitter poll by The Local found that more than 70 percent of readers supported the move. 

According to the Die Linke party, over 80 countries around the globe have some form of compensation system for public holidays that fall on a weekend.

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

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Ukrainian refugees push up German unemployment rate

Germany's unemployment rate rose for the first time in two years in June, figures published Thursday showed, as refugees fleeing Russia's war on Ukraine swelled the pool of job seekers.

Ukrainian refugees push up German unemployment rate

The indicator rose to 5.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, up from five percent in May, according to the BA federal labour agency.

Overall the number of unemployed rose by 133,000, also on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The sharp increase was due to the “extensive registration of Ukrainian refugees at job centres”, the BA said in a statement.

People escaping the conflict started by Russian President Vladimir Putin in February were now “visible” in employment statistics, BA chief, Detlef Scheele said in a statement.

Over five million Ukrainians have been registered as refugees in Europe according to the UNHCR, with hundreds of thousands finding their way to Germany.

But not all of them have found work corresponding to their qualifications, with the German language also creating a significant barrier.

Worker shortage goes up

At the same time, several sectors were facing shortages of workers, with 877,000 vacant posts, up 184,000 from the same month last year.

“Many companies are desperately seeking skilled workers,” said Fritzi Koehler-Geib, chief economist at the public lender KfW.

The shortage was particularly acute for skilled positions, Koehler-Geib said.

“This is a vulnerability of the German economy that has been building for a long time,” she said.

READ ALSO: Germany struggles with growing worker shortage