Holiday pay: survey finds huge inequalities in Germany

Holiday pay: survey finds huge inequalities in Germany

Just under half of the people working in Germany receive a holiday pay bonus, a recent survey has found. And it seems that the odds of receiving one are far from equally distributed across the federal republic, with gender, location and company size all playing a role.

One in two workers in Germany receives a holiday bonus

On Tuesday, the Hans Bӧckler Foundation released the results of an online survey into the holiday pay entitlements of more than 123.000 employees across Germany. Overall, they found that one in two workers receives a holiday bonus on top of their salaryholiday leave and any other benefits in kind.

Although German employers are not legally obliged to pay holiday bonuses, many choose to give their workers something extra to spend during the holidays. Some employers are compelled to do so via collective bargaining agreements. Indeed, the survey found that 69 percent of employees with collective-wage employment contracts received a holiday bonus, compared to just 36 percent of those not bound by an agreement.   

Wide holiday pay discrepancies in Germany

The survey also uncovered many other discrepancies in the holiday pay coverage of workers in Germany. Whether you receive a holiday bonus or not is clearly influenced by the size of the company you work at: in small businesses with fewer than 100 employees, 37 percent of employees receive holiday pay. In larger, international companies with more than 500 employees, this percentage increases to 61.

There was also a wide disparity between Germany’s regions, with the eastern federal states generally losing out in comparison with the west. In West Germany, 49 percent of employees received a holiday bonus, whereas in East Germany only around a third reported receiving one. 

Women less likely to receive a holiday bonus

But that’s not where the disparities end. The survey also showed a significant difference between the number of men and women who receive holiday bonuses. On average, around 50 percent of men receive an extra something in their pay packet over the vacation season. Compare this with just 41 percent of women.

This discrepancy can perhaps be explained by the fact that men tend to be concentrated in sectors, such as engineering, in which holiday bonuses are more likely to be paid. In occupations traditionally filled by women - such as the social and health care system - holiday pay is less likely to be given. Workers in the male-dominated insurance, woodworking, plastic and metalworking industries also received higher than average holiday bonuses - perhaps a reflection of the longer working hours and increased occupational risk of blue-collar work.

Looking for a job in Germany? Have you checked out IamExpat Jobs yet? Browse our listings of English-speaking jobs in Germany and expat-friendly recruitment agencies.



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

Read more



Leave a comment