What is special leave?

Special leave is a form of leave granted to employees in Germany for specific reasons related to the employee.
man on special leave

An employee is entitled to special leave in exceptional circumstances. This leave is granted independently of the employee’s statutory leave entitlement. It could be seen as a generous gesture by the employer.

According to Section 616 of the German Civil Code (BGB), employees are entitled to a temporary, paid leave of absence if:

  • the duration of the exemption is relatively short,
  • the reason lies in the person of the employee and
  • the situation is not due to the company’s own fault.

This provision is quite general. The reasons justifying special leave can be specified in employment contracts, works agreements or collective agreements. The collective agreement for the public sector, for example, specifically regulates paid leaves of absence.

Also, the duration of special leave is not regulated by law, but depends on the goodwill of the employer, as well as the duration of the employment relationship.

Important personal reasons for paid special leave

  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • The birth of a child
  • Death of a close relative
  • Relocation (for official or business reasons for civil servants and employees of the public service)
  • Private relocation (based on internal agreement)
  • 25- and 40-year company anniversaries for public sector employees
  • Illness of a relative (1 day of special leave for the care of a seriously ill relative living in the same household).

Medical treatments that cannot be postponed to an appointment outside working hours

Special service release cases

  • Service leave for job search

According to §629 of the German Civil Code, employees have the right to paid time off from work in order to write job applications and attend job interviews.

  • Service leave for religious reasons

This means confirmation, daily prayers and the like. Due to the freedom of religion, the employer must take into account the religious concerns of the employee. The prerequisite for a leave of absence for religious reasons is an agreement between the employee and the employer.

  • Time off work for childcare

  • Time off from work to attend court hearings

  • Service leave for the fulfillment of certain honorary offices, such as volunteer fire department, disaster control, etc.