Educational leave: why Bavaria does not participate

A yoga studio in Bad Hindelang in Oberallgäu: Christina Tetzner is currently practicing the “hero” step position with her seminar participants, and everyone is stretching their arms high. “It’s an excellent balancing posture for our sedentary daily lives,” explains the yoga teacher. As a recognized speaker on educational leave, she regularly gives seminars on subjects such as stress management, inner peace and balance.

“Always under pressure”: work and family often require a lot of energy

The approximately 15 participants – men and women – are all on educational leave from other Länder. They received five days of paid leave from their employer. Uschi Stadler, for example, works as a consultant in a health center in Hesse: “I have to talk a lot, I have to listen a lot and when I lose concentration, I need strategies like the ones I use in conversations. » This is how she describes her motivation for this seminar.

Torben Kiefer, cameraman from North Rhine-Westphalia, adds that not only work but also private life can be stressful. “When you have a family, you always have a lot to do,” he says. Svenja Ivanovski, an assistant at an authority in Hesse, shares the same feeling: “I feel like I am always under pressure.”

Educational leave is also a break from everyday life

In the Allgäu, they want to free themselves from the pressure of everyday life, take a breather and regain their strength. To do this, they requested leave from their employer. This duration is enshrined in law in all states, with the exception of Saxony and Bavaria. It is generally ten days for full-time employees, available within two years.

Since the Federal Republic ratified an International Labor Organization convention on paid educational leave in 1976, the Social Democratic governments of the Länder or – as in Baden-Württemberg – the Greens have mostly introduced laws corresponding at the level of the Länder. So far this has not happened in CSU-ruled Bavaria. The Bavarian Minister of Social Affairs, Ulrike Scharf (CSU), also has a clear opinion on this subject. “This law is not necessary,” she explains in an interview with BR.

Only a few take advantage of educational time

The Bavarian government focuses instead on voluntary continuing education. Employers should offer their employees continuing education on a voluntary basis and citizens should implement it under their own responsibility. Social Affairs Minister Scharf is confirmed by the statistics. Based on figures from other Länder, she found that “the proportion of people entitled to this leave and able to benefit from this leave is simply not high”.

In fact, according to estimates from the Ifo Institute, the proportion of employees who spend time on training is only 3.5% in Germany. This is not an argument for the opposition in the Bavarian Parliament. Doris Rauscher, spokesperson for the Bavarian SPD for work, social affairs and family, believes: “This is simply too short-sighted. Especially in today's changing world of work, a training exemption law would be a good thing for Bavaria.”

The Bavarian opposition still wants to introduce educational leave

The SPD and the Greens have tried several times in the past to introduce paid training hours in Bavaria, without success. But Rauscher wants to try again during the current legislature. “We certainly have highly qualified people who receive continuing education from their employers. But low-skilled people, in particular, sometimes feel a little left behind because they have no legal right to this training keep on going.”

There is now also an online petition demanding that Bavaria introduce educational leave. In addition, many associations and clubs from the fields of tradition preservation, the Church, trade unions, social associations, sports and women are jointly demanding the right to educational time. For example, they hope that more people will be trained for voluntary work.

Verena Bentele, president of VdK Bavaria, believes that it is extremely important that Bavarian employees can continue their training without losing their salary or using their vacation time for this. “People need skills and have to deal with new IT technologies, but also new rules and laws for clubs.” Civil society needs a voluntary commitment that strengthens and motivates it.

Continuing education and training: wide choice of seminars

At Christina Tetzner's Hindelanger Yoga Academy, participants are now comfortably seated on their mats. “Just enjoy this break, lie there, do nothing, just have fun,” the yoga teacher advises women and men. You should try to turn away from the carousel of thoughts and simply enjoy what is called “me time”. “We see that mental illnesses are increasing, burnout is increasing and taking a break in the form of educational leave can help to stay healthy,” Tetzner is convinced.

The range of continuing education opportunities is vast and is not limited to health prevention seminars. In Germany, more than 300 recognized providers also offer foreign language or IT courses, as well as political seminars. The path to getting there is generally simple for employees: find a course, book it and submit the documents to the human resources department. The company then authorizes educational leave and everyone must pay the training and accommodation costs themselves.

But: educational leave is little known

But even though the right to an educational exemption has existed for decades in some states, this concept is not known to many. Many companies simply don't advertise it. Torben Kiefer reports that he was the first in his department to take training leave a few years ago. “But I work on it and promote it a lot and there are more and more of it now.”

In the meantime, only the quiet breathing of the participants in the Hindelang stress management course can be heard. Before everyone falls asleep, Christina Tetzner gently brings them back. They lounge and stretch. Everyone is convinced of the concept of educational leave, appreciates the time spent and feels more relaxed. Torben Kiefer is certain: “My employer benefits greatly from the fact that I return to my workplace peacefully and calmly.”

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