Working in Germany: Can I use leftover holiday leave to start a new job?

Working in Germany: Can I use leftover holiday leave to start a new job?

Getting your affairs in order and transitioning to a new job can be a time of uncertainty. If the switchover period from one position to another is tight, you might be wondering if you can legally start a new job during the leftover holiday days from your old employer.

Can you start a new job during remaining holidays of an old position?

This is a complicated question but the short answer is: it is not advisable. If you’re leaving your old job behind and starting a new one, you may be tempted to please your understaffed, future employer by saying you can start during the remaining holiday leave of your previous job, but there are a number of reasons why this might be a bad idea.

The first is that your existing employment relationship continues until your leftover holiday leave is up. This means that if you start a new job during this period it would legally be considered a second, side job. The rules on whether you are allowed to do a side job during your employment will be stipulated in your contract and if they aren’t, it may be possible to ask your boss for permission in this special circumstance.

Secondly, because German employment law - specifically Section 8 of the Federal Vacation Act - wants you to have a real holiday, so you cannot take part in an “activity that contradicts the idea of recreation” during your holiday leave. However, exceptions can also be made in this case.

Be wary of non-competition clauses

Some work contracts in Germany include non-competition clauses. This is another thing to be wary of if you’re making a hasty transition from one employer to another

If you’re a trained professional, it's likely that your new job may have many similarities to your old one. The company that previously employed you and the company that has just hired you may even be competitors. In this case, if you use your leftover holidays to start your new roles, you may find yourself in breach of Section 60 of the German Commercial Code.

If ever in doubt, read your contract carefully and be open with both your former and new employer about when each contract legally ends and begins.

Thumb image credit: SASTRAVILA /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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