Germany: A year on: a review of the new laws on the expiry of paid annual leave entitlements

January 1, 2020

In February 2019, the BAG (German Federal Labour Court) decided to change the law on the expiry of paid annual leave entitlements. 

What are the changes?

 Previously to the Federal Labour Court’s decision, untaken paid annual leave expired at the end of the calendar year it was accrued in, irrespective of whether the employer had enabled the employee to exercise that right. An exception was made, however, in certain cases where there was, for example, a medical or rehabilitation reason. A list of the exceptions is detailed here

In November 2018 the ECJ found that national legislation providing that workers automatically lose their right to paid annual leave at the end of the reference period concerned, without prior verification of whether the employer had in fact enabled them to exercise that right through the provision of sufficient information is contrary to European law.

What does this mean for employers?

The German Federal Labour Court provides initial guidance on compliance:

If these requirements are fulfilled the employee loses their right to paid annual leave at the end of the reference period or authorised carry-over period (although other European and national case-law may then apply, for example, with regard to rights relating to long term sick-leave).


((BAG 9 AZR 541/15) in accordance with the judgement of the ECJ (ECJ . C-684/16)).

Further information

For further information or to discuss any of the issues raised, please contact Stefanie Andrelang; or dial 0049 89 24223040



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