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Just based on Vacations and notice periods, when is the optimal date to quit in Germany?

For instance, I have a notice period of three months starting from the end of the month that I have communicated the quit. So if I quit today 8 of March the countdown starts the 1 of April so I'll actually go out the 30 of June.

For what I've understood, in Germany you get the full vacations of the whole year if you work at least for half of the year (otherwise is prorated), but I don't know if that would mean that you need to work at least one day of July (which in this scenario won't be the case) or is enough just quitting on March and going out at the end of June.

The difference is quite big as 30 days of paid vacations mean 15 days of difference on vacations, and it is just to leave one month later that you actually do not work. I also read that in that case, you may only receive the mandatory vacations which are 20 days instead of the 30, but I'm not sure.

Does anyone know this specific rules and where to find more information about them? Is there any catch to this optimization?

edit:

I found a post here about this topic, but unfortunately is still not clear to me the official source and if is included the 30 of June or not:

Notice Period + Contractual leave days in Germany

3 Answers 3

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I had this situation, and different rules can apply, which can make it a bit complicated:

  • The law clearly states: When you leave in the first half of the year, you get the according fraction (§5 BUrlG).
  • §5 Abs. 3 also states that you do not have to pay anything back, in case you took more than the fractional share.
  • When leaving in the second half of the year, you get the full amount of vacation days (either vacation or financial compensation), if you stayed for at least 6 months (§4 BUrlG).
  • To make sure you don't get more vacation days when switching employers in the second half of the year, the first employer has to give you a paper stating how many days you already took this year (§6 BUrlG), which you have to give the new employer.
  • BUT: A different agreement, either in your contract or in the Tarifvertrag, could also apply that even in the second half of the year you only get a pro-rata amount. This is the case for e.g. IG Metall. BUT this agreement can not reduce the amount of vacation days for the year below the legal minimum (20 days for 5 day workweek, 24 for 6). So it might only apply for the additional 10 days you get above the legal minimum.

So the conclusion: If you leave on the 30th of June, you get 15 days (either Resturlaub or payout). If you took more before, you are lucky. Your new employer might ask for an Urlaubsbescheinigung and reduce the days you get there in the second half of the year.

If you leave a bit later, say end of July, you might get more at your old employer, but you might get nothing at the new one.

Also note that there is an often-repeated misunderstanding about Probezeit, that you wouldn't get any days off in the first 6 months anyway. That's not true, you don't get the full amount, but you can always take what you already earned (i.e. 2.5 days per month working there). And of course you can negotiate (e.g. "let me take off a few days now so I don't have to take 45 days next year").

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  • this answer seems more clear to me than the other ones, but can the old employer just deny accepting your full entitlement?
    – RandomDude
    Mar 16, 2023 at 10:55
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Usually, you won't get either half or full paid vacation days, but rather a fraction of the entire number corresponding to the number of months you work in any given year. In your case that would mean 15 days because you'll only work half a year. Any other method wouldn't make much sense for the employer, because he's the one paying you during your time off. He can't give you less than this fraction by law, but why should he give you more, especially since you are leaving his employ.

It's a different thing with "Urlaubs- und Weihnachtsgeld", a seasonal gratification in summer and winter. Whether you'll get "Urlaubsgeld" in June depends on whether you have Urlaubsgeld at all and whatever is in your contract or other documents attached to the contract, like "Betriebsvereinbarungen" etc. The employer can even reclaim your seasonal gratification if you leave the company within a timeframe given in your contract or a Betriebsvereinbarung.

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  • 1
    Thanks for the answer, but I read in multiple sources that after 6 months you are entitled to the full vacations, even if it makes little sense. like here What I don't know is if this information is accurrate, updated and if working till 30 Juni is enough or you need also the 1 of July
    – RandomDude
    Mar 8, 2023 at 15:58
  • I also think (please double-check) that if you take all holidays for the year and then quit, you don't have to pay them.back.
    – guest
    Mar 8, 2023 at 20:06
  • "Any other method wouldn't make much sense for the employer": that doesn't mean it isn't in the law like this (which it is, see BUrlG). Laws don't always immediately make sense.. Mar 14, 2023 at 15:42
  • @KarstenKoop I don't see where par 5 does grant more than 1/12 of vacation days per month in employ
    – arne
    Mar 15, 2023 at 6:58
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    @KarstenKoop It's possible you may be right, a court may actually award full "Resturlaub" if you leave in the 2nd half of the year, but I believe that was not the intent of the two paragraphs. In any case, if you take your whole year's worth of Urlaub at one employer, the next one doesn't have to grant you any, so this seems to be a rather stupid move anyway.
    – arne
    Mar 17, 2023 at 7:12
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Any sane German employer will give you vacation days as a fraction of the time you work for them that year. So if you start on 01.07. you will get half the yearly allowance.

Any discussion about this will be seen as a big red flag by your new employer. It will probably lead to the exact opposite of what you want.

Your employer is allowed to not give you any vacation days in the first six month or during your probation period. What you read about "the full amount after six months" is the fact that if they give you no vacation days in the first six month, you are still entitled to take them afterwards, they are not lost, you are just not allowed to take them before.

Your employer is also not required to give you even the mandatory minimum amount, if you had vacation days before in the year. You cannot take on 12 jobs and just take your mandatory four week vacation in each of them to get paid for a full year of vacation. That is not how it works. Your employer is allowed to ask your former company, how much vacation you already had. If you already had 20 days that year with your former employer, you already had your mandatory vacation.

All of those things are details and laws and regulations nobody wants to deal with. The norm is that you get a fraction of your yearly allowance based on the time you are supposed to work that year. If you took more and then quit, nobody will bother, because it's just not worth the money to come after you. But if you show any signs of trying to cheat by haggling for more days based on laws and regulations with your new employer, you can be happy to get an interview at all, or if you pull that stunt during your probation period, to actually stay in that job. Nobody likes a person that is trying to cheat. You get your fair share. If you don't like the total amount of that share, find a job with more vacation days instead of giving everybody a headache sweating over laws and regulations.

So no, there is nothing you need to look for. You resign any point in time that is allowed by your contract. It does not make a difference, you cannot game that system. Not if you want a new job.

The only way you could game it is work longer with a company, then in the new year take your yearly allowance early in the year and leave after that. The old company will not bother if is somewhat reasonable (taking all of January and quitting in February is not, taking three weeks around Easter and quitting in May is technically a win for you, but nobody will bother to even calculate if you maybe got more than your fair share). The new company normally does not check whether you already had more than your share, they will just waive the paperwork and offer your your fair share of their vacation days.

So to summarize: there is no optimization. It doesn't matter. Unless you want to be really unpopular with the boss and HR before you even started your new job. Then you might optimize to get a free vacation day or two at the cost of not making the probation period. But that seems very counterproductive.

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  • I only had one employer (out of seven) ask for papers from my former employer about the number of vacation days taken, so you're right on that front.
    – arne
    Mar 8, 2023 at 16:47
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    This answer primarily seems to be talking about perils of gaming the new employer but I read the question as trying to game the old employer - i.e. by working the first 6 months of the year and then quitting July 1 do they get a full year of vacation days out of the old employer.
    – rooby
    Mar 9, 2023 at 5:44
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    @rooby You don't in practice. Either you already took them when you leave, then you most likely don't have to pay them back indeed (this is mentioned in my answer as the only possible way to game the system) or you didn't, then you get your fractional share and any company I know would say "you want what? No way. I don't care what the law says. If you want that, your lawyer can write our legal department. Oh and we will inform your new employer, so any day you might get from us might be subtracted from your new allowance at your new job. Don't expect a good reference. Have a nice day."
    – nvoigt
    Mar 9, 2023 at 6:04
  • As @rooby says (most of) this answer implies finding a new employer etc, so I still think there is plenty of game on this, specially if you for instance are not taking any other job in Germany any time soon, meaning that leaving in the second half of the year will allow you to take the full entitlement i.e winning at least 5 more days of paid vacations if just statutory ones or 15 if you get really all of them (which I don't think is the case)
    – RandomDude
    Mar 9, 2023 at 9:57
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    You might be correct according to the law, but you will appear petty, getting "free days" by generating far more costs than your vacation days would have been worth, for both you and the company.
    – nvoigt
    Mar 9, 2023 at 10:16

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