You're probably entitled to five extra vacation days: how to get them

In most Länder, employees are entitled to educational leave. How to apply for it and how to use it.

In 14 of the 16 Länder, employees are legally entitled to educational leave. The exceptions are Bavaria and Saxony.

But only a few employees actually take advantage of existing opportunities: according to a survey by the Ifo Institute on behalf of the personnel service provider Randstad, for which 630 HR managers were questioned, the national average is only 3.5 for hundred.

Educational leave can be used for a wide variety of further training – they don't necessarily have anything to do with your own work.

What exactly does educational leave mean?

Educational leave is a legal right to be released from work by the employer to continue training. And all this while continuing to pay the remuneration.

“These are additional days that are not taken into account in the right to rest,” explains Tjark Menssen, from the legal protection of the German Trade Union Federation (DGB) in Frankfurt am Main. These days can be used for continuing education, recognized as educational leave.

In order to benefit from educational leave, the employee must have completed the probationary period with their employer. Each federal state in which there is a right to educational leave has also anchored the relevant regulations in its own national legislation.

“Some countries have excluded small businesses from the scope and limited the number of employees per year who can take vacation,” Menssen said. You should therefore inquire about this in advance.

How many days of educational leave are there?

In the Länder where this is provided, full-time employees are legally entitled to five days of educational leave per year. You can also keep it for ten days every two years. If you work less than five days a week, your rights are reduced accordingly.

Moreover: “In addition to full-time and part-time employees, mini-jobbers and similar employees are also entitled to educational leave,” explains Lara Körber of “AZ Bildungszeit”. The Berlin-based start-up operates the “Bildungsurlauber.de” platform, through which relevant seminar providers can publish their offers.

Are trainees also entitled to educational leave?

In principle yes, at least in the Länder where there is a legal right to educational leave.

However, this right is regulated differently in each country. In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, according to the Employee Continuing Education Act, trainees are entitled to a total of five days of continuing education for political employees during their professional training. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the exemption of five days per year only applies to participation in further training in politics and further training in voluntary work.

How to use educational leave?

It is possible to take language courses, seminars, such as those in the field of marketing, or management training. It is also possible to book seminars on burnout prevention, such as yoga or Pilates, as part of your educational leave – and not just in Germany, but worldwide.

The idea of ​​educational leave is to further train people so that they can better adapt to changes in society and the world of work. “So you shouldn't focus too much on what is useful to you professionally, but rather broaden your horizons,” advises Menssen. It's always good to “ask yourself what individual needs or learning goals you've always wanted to spend time on,” says Körber.

Seminar offers recognized as educational leave can be consulted, for example, on the relevant national websites. An overview of their continuing education portals is available on the portal of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs.

Who will cover the costs?

As with regular annual leave, employers are obliged to continue paying salary. However, employees must cover the costs of seminars and work materials as well as travel costs themselves. However, the expenses can be deducted from your tax return.

However, if it involves continuing training that is important for the job, the employer must bear the costs.

How to request educational leave?

Menssen describes the procedure as follows: You search for an offer from a supplier, contact them and indicate how long you would like to participate.

The service provider then sends the documents that the employees must submit to the employer for the application. “Depending on the federal government, applications must be submitted to the employer four to nine weeks before the educational leave,” says Körber.

Can the employer say “no”?

Depending on the legal provisions in force in each federal state, employers can refuse the exemption if there are urgent operational reasons that prevent it, such as a large order that must be processed quickly.

If this is the case, the debt does not expire – postponement does not mean cancellation. Find a new date and make a new request for educational leave.

What should you do if there is no right to educational leave in your own state?

Of course, you can always continue your training at your own expense and, if necessary, take advantage of the weekend or evening to do so. And: If the employer sees an advantage, he can of course support it voluntarily.

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