Corona virus: Can my boss force me to go on vacation?

Here and in our newsletter, we regularly answer a question from our readers about the corona virus. You also have medical questions about Covid-19 or would like to know more precisely what economic, political, and social effects the crisis will have on Germany and the world? Write to us at [email protected]

Reader Andreas Mann asks: "May one of the employers be forced to take a vacation in the current situation – and if so, how much? In the current situation with travel bans, no contact and domestic isolation is a vacation for many people who are close and 24 hours Sitting on each other during the day, no more relaxation. And if someone no longer has enough vacation entitlement for such a measure: Does he have to expect a drop in salary? "The answer from Florian Gontek, editor in the job and career department at SPIEGEL: Basically, the employer is allowed to don't just force the worker on vacation. If he does so, he is obliged to continue paying wages. One way of lawfully ordering employees on vacation would be, for example, the so-called company vacation.

"But these have to be coordinated with the works council or staff council, if there is one in the company. For example, in a company agreement. If this does not exist, it is difficult for employers to unilaterally arrange company holidays. The employer must announce them with sufficient and reasonable lead time "says labor lawyer Aziza Yakhloufi.

This regulation works independently of the trade. What is decisive here is the stipulation in the company agreement, not the industry as such. Company holidays are particularly common for companies that are subject to seasonal fluctuations. For example, think of agriculture.

If, on the other hand, forced leave is impermissibly imposed, it is at the employer's risk. Specifically, this means that if you are sent ten days on compulsory leave, but only have five days left, your employer must also pay you ten working days. It is the employer's duty to keep an eye on vacation entitlements.

Legally, the vacation serves relaxation. "Still," says employment lawyer Yakhloufi, "the employer is not responsible for how his employees spend the vacation." Once vacation is granted, it cannot be unilaterally canceled. Anyone who has already submitted vacation and now has to cancel their travel plans because of the pandemic has been unlucky. He cannot ask the boss to postpone the vacation.

In principle, the following applies: your employee must not send you on compulsory leave so easily. If so, this must have been agreed beforehand in a company agreement with the staff or works council and announced with sufficient advance notice. However, if your employee imposes an inadmissible company vacation, you are entitled to wages. How you spend your free time is entirely up to you.
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