Shortly before the end of the year, many employees ask themselves: Do my remaining days of holiday actually expire if I do not take them by the end of December? In most cases, no. But the details are rather complicated. It is easiest if there is a clear regulation in the company. Often you can then carry over holiday days into the new year and have to take them by 31 March. The personnel department or the works council will know the exact rules.
In principle, however, leave is no longer automatically forfeited. This has been decided by the European Court of Justice and also by the Federal Labour Court in Germany. According to this, you only lose your leave days if the employer can prove that he has informed employees of this and given them the opportunity to take the leave as well. This was confirmed by the legal protection department of the DGB Tünews International upon request. The limitation period begins three years after the end of the employment relationship. However, the Federal Labour Court has also ruled that leave can only be carried over to the new year if there is a reason for it. Then the days can be taken until the end of March.
There are exceptions for employees on maternity leave and parental leave. Holiday entitlement that has accrued up to maternity leave does not expire and can be taken upon return. The situation is similar for workers who are sick for a long time. However, to prevent very long periods of leave from accumulating, the Federal Labour Court has stipulated that this entitlement expires after 15 months. But here too, employers must point this out. And the details must be regulated in the company.
But what happens if you simply could not take your old leave—for example, because you changed jobs? Then you can have it paid out under certain circumstances. You can even apply for this retrospectively—but only in the three years after the employment relationship ended. However, this question is also difficult to decide in detail. Trade union members can ask their trade union. Refugees can also contact the counselling centre Mira (Mit Recht bei der Arbeit).
Eine Berglandschaft im norditalischen Piemont. Foto: tünews INTERNATIONAL / Martin Klaus.