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WORKING IN GERMANY
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WORKING IN GERMANY

EXPLAINED: How employees in Germany can take twice as many holidays in 2023

2023 comes with an especially large number of public holidays falling during the week. Here's what they are and how to make the best of them.

EXPLAINED: How employees in Germany can take twice as many holidays in 2023
Photo: picture alliance/dpa/CosmosDirekt / Adobe Stock | CosmosDirekt

Overall 2022 has not been the best year for both national and state public holidays in Germany, with several falling on the weekend. Even the upcoming Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are, respectively, on a Saturday and Sunday. 

But employees can rejoice in 2023: with the exception of New Year’s Day, which falls on a Sunday, most public holidays in Germany take place during the week. 

And because several fall on a Thursday or Tuesday, people in Germany have the chance to take more Brückentage, or bridge days, so that one vacation day can make a four-day weekend. 

Or in some cases, when public holidays fall on a Monday and Friday, for example, employees can take three days off of work in order to have nine work-free days.

READ ALSO: Vacation days in Germany: What to know about your rights as an employee

The German travel website travelcircus found that employees with an average of 25 vacation days can squeeze out up to 61 days of vacation using Brückentage.

Off to a good start in the New Year

New Year’s Day 2023 falls on a Sunday, but if you live in the right state, you can look forward to nine days off with four vacation days. You will benefit if you live in Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt or Baden-Württemberg – as there is a day off in these states on January 6th, for the Epiphany – also called Three Kings Day. 

READ ALSO: Three Kings Day: What you should know about Germany’s public holiday in three states

Employees can apply for vacation from January 2nd to 5th – provided, of course, that you work a regular five-day week from Monday to Friday. If you have taken too little vacation during 2022, then you may be able to carry the remaining vacation with you into the next year. 

Typically, German employers allow employees to carry five days over into the next year. 

Extra time over Easter

Want to take half of April off, but just use up eight vacation days? Simply submit a request from April 3rd to 6th (as Easter Friday falls on the 7th), and then again April 11th-14th following Easter Monday on April 10th.

Many May holidays

For the first time in two years, Labour Day – on Monday, May 1st –  again falls on a weekday in 2023.

With four vacation days, you can enjoy nine work-free days at the beginning of the month. 

If you are holding out for nicer weather, you can save up those days for Ascension Day (or Christi Himmelfahrt in German) on May 18th or Whit Monday on May 29th. With four vacation days you’ll take advantage of nine days off at the end of May, or with six vacation days you can extend that to 12 whole days.

Tourists Saxon Switzerland

Tourists admire the view in Saxon Switzerland, one of Germany’s top tourist attractions. picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Sebastian Kahnert

Extra long weekend in June

If you live in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate or Saarland, you can take a long weekend off with one vacation day. The reason? Corpus Christi (or Fronleichnam in German) on June 6th. Workers from other states will have to make do without public holidays in June. 

READ ALSO: Fronleichnam: What you should know about the public holiday

In July, Germany as a whole is short of public holidays, and on August 15th, people from Saarland and Bavaria each get a day off. 

Those who live in Augsburg can look forward to a free day – August 8th is the Peace Festival, which is a holiday only in Augsburg.

Two long weekends in October

German Unity Day falls on Tuesday, October 3rd, so if you take Monday off, you’ll have a long weekend. 

The same possibility is offered at the end of October. Reformation Day – which is celebrated in about half of Germany on October 31st – also falls on a Tuesday, so you could take a long weekend off there as well.

Ample holiday time over Christmas 2023 

Christmas Day and Boxing Day in 2023 fall on a Monday and a Tuesday, which means that with three vacation days you can experience ten whole days off.

And the next year will be off to an even better start: New Year’s Day 2024 falls also falls on a Monday. 

What are Germany’s public holidays in 2023?

New Year’s Day (national): Sunday, January 1st

Three Kings Day (Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, and Saxony-Anhalt): Friday, January 6th

International Women’s Day (Berlin): Wednesday, March 8th

Easter Friday (national): April 7th

Easter Monday (national): April 10th

Labour Day (national): Monday, May 1st

Ascension Day/Christi Himmelfahrt (national): Thursday, May 18th

Whit Monday (national): Monday, May 29th

Corpus Christi/Fronleichnam (Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony and Thuringia): June 8th

Assumption Day/Mariä Himmelfahrt (Bavaria and Saarland): Tuesday, August 15 

World Children’s Day/Weltkindertag (Thuringia): Wednesday, November 20th

Day of German Unity (national): Tuesday, October 3rd

Reformation Day (Brandenburg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pommerania, Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia): Tuesday, October 31st 

All Saints Day (Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland): Wednesday, November 1st

Buß- und Bettag (Saxony): Wednesday, November 22nd

Christmas Day (national): Monday, December 25th

Second Day of Christmas (national): Tuesday, December 26th

Member comments

  1. Not sure I understand why Buß- und Bettag gets lower case lettering than all the other public holidays?

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For members

IMMIGRATION

Will immigration reform be enough to combat Germany’s worker shortage?

Despite record levels of immigration, Germany still faces a huge worker shortage. Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil has put forward plans to reform immigration law and, the government has approved a new Skilled Worker Strategy.

Will immigration reform be enough to combat Germany’s worker shortage?

picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Kirsten Neumann

Germany is currently facing a significant worker shortage and, in the last quarter alone, there were nearly 2 million vacant positions on the country’s job market. 

The German government currently expects that, by 2026, there will be 240,000 jobs in Germany for which there will be no qualified candidates.

One of the ways in which Germany intends to tackle this impending labour force crisis is by replacing the current immigration system similar to the points-based model used in Canada. But this is not the only way.

Last week, Germany’s Federal Cabinet approved a new Skilled Labour Strategy which lays out various ways in which Germany will try to plug the worker shortage.

PODCAST: Germany’s plans to modernise citizenship and immigration laws, and is cash still king?

Which immigration reforms are currently on the table?

In September, Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil presented his initial plans for a new Chancenkarte – a so-called “opportunity card” which will offer foreign nationals the chance to come to Germany to look for work even without a job offer. 

Under the plans, internationals will be able to come to live in Germany as long as they fulfil at least three of the criteria of having a university degree or professional qualification, professional experience of at least three years, a language skill or previous residence in Germany and are under 35.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s points-based immigration plans

This means that, unlike at the moment, proof of qualification and work experience abroad will suffice for entry into Germany.

This would open up the labour market to foreign specialists who don’t yet have a qualification recognised in Germany, as they would be able to obtain these qualifications with the help of a German employer, who would sign a contract with them and also pay for some of their language courses.

It is still not clear, however, when the new points-based immigration system will come into effect.

According to the Skilled Worker Strategy paper, other important goals are to enable immigrants to make greater use of the employment and training opportunities in Germany and for the recognition procedures for foreign educational and professional qualifications to be simplified. 

READ ALSO: ‘More jobs in English’: How Germany could attract international workers

The Strategy Paper also talks about “a goal-oriented pre-integration policy” which would include providing information and advice on immigration procedures, language courses, and orientation services in the country of origin for the potential skilled workers themselves as well as for their family members.

What else is Germany doing to deal with skilled worker shortage?

Along with simplifying immigration procedures, the German government also wants to combat the shortage of skilled workers with measures to stimulate workforce participation by those already living in Germany.

A metal worker works with a vice in Nordrhein-Westfalen. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Kirsten Neumann

Due to the high part-time employment rate, the average annual volume of paid work done by women in Germany is about 30 percent below that of men. Therefore, the aim, according to the Strategy Paper, is to encourage more women to work full-time with measures such as expanding childcare and reducing financial disincentives – such as Ehegattensplitting (“marital splitting”).

READ ALSO: Ehegattensplitting: How did Germany’s marriage tax law become so controversial?

The government also wants to do more to promote training and study courses in sectors and occupations most affected by the skilled worker shortage. This applies, for example, to the skilled trades – such as plumbers, electricians and carpenters – where a high proportion of employees are approaching retirement age.

The government also wants to open up continuing education programs and to provide incentives to encourage low-skilled, unemployed and benefits recipients to catch up on their vocational qualifications.

Another crucial issue to be addressed is the training of migrants who have been living in Germany for some time. From January 1st, 2022 those who have been living in Germany for at least five years are allowed to stay and work. 

According to the Strategy Paper, the federal government is also offering support and further vocational training for immigrants who still need qualifications to gain a foothold in the German labour market.

READ ALSO: German cities warn of growing refugee crisis

Speaking to the Labour Minister on a visit to Berlin last week, Klaus-Dieter Müller, managing director of a construction company with around 170 employees, criticised what he sees as a shortage of young talent. Many of the worker shortage issues, he said, could best be solved by better training for migrants.

Builders work on a building site in Baden-Württemberg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Weißbrod

According to Müller, a lack of technical language classes for migrants is a key reason “why motivated and talented people fail their craft training”. Just recently, he said, his company lost two apprentices because they failed to get their vocational degrees due to language difficulties. 

“These are enormous losses in our industry, demographic change is having an extreme impact on us, we need people with a migration history, I don’t know anyone who says otherwise,” he said. 

Klaus-Dieter Müller also said that bureaucratic hurdles also have a paralysing effect on his industry. In the case of his trainees from Syria and Lebanon, it took almost two years for the authorities to recognise their school certificates, he said.

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