Nursing staff, police officers and taxi drivers – many professional groups have to work hard even on holidays like Pentecost. What rights do employees have in these cases? ARAG legal expert Tobias Klingelhöfer explains what applies to employees.

Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday and Whit Monday are statutory holidays on which working is generally prohibited. However, the Working Hours Act lists 16 exceptions to the employment ban. For example, in security or health care, supplies must be guaranteed even on public holidays. As a rule, however, there is a supplement or another day off to compensate.

Unfortunately, there is no legal entitlement to so-called holiday surcharges. There is only a mandatory surcharge for night work on public holidays. At least employees working on Sundays or public holidays are entitled to a substitute day of rest. However, in most cases it is not the legal agreement that applies, but rather the contractual or collective agreement – and the individual right to possible surcharges can then also be determined there.

Working from home is now normal. However, this can also mean that your place of residence differs drastically from the company headquarters. In this case, the holiday regulations apply at the company’s location. For example, Whit Monday is considered a public holiday for all employees whose employers are based in a federal state in which Whit Monday is a public holiday.

However, working from home does not necessarily mean that employees have to work from anywhere. So if you want to move your home office over holidays such as Easter or Pentecost, for example to celebrate with your family, you should coordinate this with your boss. However, if you work mobile and have made a corresponding arrangement with your employer, you can work completely independently of location, as the employer only provides the technology that is needed for the work.

In order to clear your head while working from home on public holidays, I recommend that employees who do not have their own office at home but work on the couch, at the kitchen table or in the bathtub move computers and documents out of sight. It is also advisable to complete all important and time-critical tasks before the holidays. If you send an Easter greeting to colleagues, your boss and business partners and also inform them when you can be reached in the office again, you don’t have to look at your inbox every now and then.

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Those who have to work on public holidays and receive an extra pay are lucky in disguise. It’s worth it: Because the wage supplement for all Easter holidays (for Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday) as well as for all Whitsun holidays (Whitsun Sunday and Whitsun Monday) remains tax-free if it does not exceed 125 percent of the basic wage. The basic wage is calculated from the monthly wage and the average weekly working hours.

Whether people are still working from home or alternating between the office and home because of the corona pandemic – from a legal point of view, no one is obliged to use their work cell phone on public holidays. Something different only applies if employees have taken on standby duty. Managers may also be required to do so under certain circumstances. Everyone else can turn off their work cell phone with peace of mind.

Even if the distribution of vacation is generally not at the discretion of the employer, he may order company holidays. He should pay attention to two things: Firstly, the compulsory break should be during the school holidays so that parents are not disadvantaged, and secondly, he should announce the prescribed free time as early as possible so that all employees can adjust to it. However, if the company has a staff or works council, the boss is not allowed to make decisions on his own, but must obtain their approval.

Like all other employees, mini-jobbers usually have public holidays off. The wages will then continue to be paid in the form of so-called holiday pay, like normal employees. However, in practice it is often completely different. Then some employers require that 520 euro jobbers, who already only work a few hours a month, make up for the working hours lost due to public holidays. I recommend taking a look at the employment contract or roster: If the mini-jobber is otherwise obliged to work on the days of the week that fall on the Easter holidays or Pentecost, he or she does not have to appear for work on those days.