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Can I carry over my vacation beyond 31 December 2013?

With the end of 2013 rapidly approaching, many employees will ask: “Can I carry over my vacation beyond 31 December 2013?” Under German employment law, the vacation year is, in principle, the calendar year. Thus, regularly, vacation forfeits at the end of the year. However, if holiday cannot be taken in the calendar year due to personal reasons (e.g. sickness) or operational reasons, it is transferred to the following calendar year. Such transferred vacation has to be taken until 31 March of the following calendar year (transfer period) if there are no deviating individual or collective regulations. After this date, it forfeits. But what happens if the employee is continuously sick – also throughout the transfer period? The Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht, BAG) ruled on June 11, 2013 (docket number – 9 AZR 855/11) that in this case, the transferred vacation is transferred again to the next year and forfeits at the end of the transfer period in the following year. For example, a 2013’s vacation would, in case of continuous sickness even throughout the transfer period ending 31 March 2014, therefore forfeit at 31 March 2015.