Can employees work on public holidays in Germany?

Employees can work on public holidays in Germany, but there are specific regulations and compensations for doing so. 

German labor law generally protects public holidays, and most businesses are closed. However, certain sectors like healthcare, hospitality, and emergency services may require employees to work on these days.

When employees work on a public holiday, they are typically entitled to additional compensation, which could be in the form of extra pay or compensatory time off, as stipulated by their employment contract or applicable collective bargaining agreements.

Key Compensation Methods

  1. Holiday Pay: Employees who work on public holidays are entitled to receive extra pay. The typical compensation is as follows:

    • Premium Rate: Employees usually receive a premium rate for hours worked on a public holiday, often 100% extra (double pay) on top of their regular hourly wage. This means if an employee's regular pay is €15 per hour, they would receive €30 per hour for work done on a public holiday.
  2. Compensatory Time Off: Instead of, or in addition to, extra pay, employees may receive compensatory time off. This means:

    • Time Off in Lieu: Employees can take an additional day off at a later date to compensate for the time worked on the public holiday. This should be arranged between the employer and the employee and should ideally be taken within a reasonable period after the public holiday.

Legal and Collective Agreements

  1. Federal and State Laws: Compensation for working on public holidays is governed by both federal labor laws and state-specific regulations. These laws ensure that employees are fairly compensated for their work on these days.

  2. Collective Bargaining Agreements: Many industries have collective bargaining agreements (Tarifverträge) that provide specific details about compensation for working on public holidays. These agreements can offer more generous compensation terms than the minimum required by law.

Practical Considerations

  • Employee Consent and Notification: Employers should inform employees in advance if they are required to work on a public holiday and ensure that any agreements regarding compensation are clearly communicated.
  • Accurate Record-Keeping: Employers must maintain accurate records of hours worked on public holidays and the corresponding compensation provided to ensure compliance with labor laws and collective agreements.

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