On public holidays, the employee is generally to be released from work. This follows from § 9 of the Working Hours Act (ArbZG). Accordingly, the employer may not employ the employees on these days. This regulation also applies to Sundays. For working time lost as a result of a holiday, the employer must pay the employee the regular wage in accordance with § 2 of the Continued Remuneration Act (Entgeltfortzahlungsgesetz – EFZG). According to this law, something else only applies if the employee fails to work on the last working day before or on the first working day after the legal holiday without excuse. In this case, the employee is not entitled to payment for this holiday according to the principle “no work, no wages”.
Which public holidays apply to whom?
A distinction must be made between holidays regulated by federal law and public holidays regulated by state law. Only 3rd October is defined by federal law as a national holiday. Otherwise, the public holiday laws of the federal states apply, whereby there are nine public holidays that apply in all 16 federal states (national public holidays). Some federal states have also defined other legal holidays. Most legal holidays are in Bavaria.
If the employer’s registered office and the employee’s actual place of employment are in different federal states, the public holidays of the federal state in which the employee actually works apply. If the employer’s registered office is in Baden Württemberg, but the employee is employed in Berlin, he is only entitled to paid leave on the public holidays that exist in Berlin.
From the employment prohibition on the legal holidays there are some exceptions according to §§ 10 – 12 ArbZG. Thus e.g. employees in emergency and rescue services and with the fire-brigade may be employed also on Sundays and holidays.