May 1 falls on Sunday: Debate over "catch-up" holidays reignited

May 1 falls on Sunday: Debate over "catch-up" holidays reignited

May 1 falls on a weekend once again this year, meaning people across Germany will miss out on one of their public holidays in 2022. Politicians from the Left and Green parties have therefore rekindled the debate about giving people extra days off work to make it up. 

Labour Day and Christmas Day fall on the weekend in 2022

In many countries around the world - including Belgium, Spain and the UK - people are given an extra day off on either a Monday or Friday to “make up” for holidays that fall on the weekend, meaning that everyone gets the same number of public holidays each year, regardless. 

But Germany has no such policy. In 2022, not only Labour Day but also Christmas Day both fall on the weekend, meaning that people across the country get two fewer days off work. According to politicians from Die Linke and the Greens, this is not fair to workers. 

“Every lost holiday means more stress and less urgently needed rest from the stresses of work and the pandemic,” said Jan Korte of the Left party, in an interview with the Rheinische Post. He told the newspaper that his party was intending to take parliamentary action to “ensure that no more public holidays are lost in the future.” 

Beate Müller-Gemmeke, the labour market expert for the Greens, said that the issue should be debated in the Bundestag. “Of course it is annoying for employees when Labour Day, the public holiday on May 1, falls on a Sunday,” she said, adding that it was time to discuss “whether public holidays that fall on a Sunday can be made up for.” 

German population supports extra days off for weekend holidays

The debate over “catch-up holidays” in Germany is not a new one, having periodically hit politicians’ agendas over the past few years. In 2021, the Left and the SPD joined calls to compensate workers for weekend holidays as a kind of “corona bonus” in recognition of the hard work done during the coronavirus pandemic. The most recent attempt to push a corresponding regulation through parliament failed in 2018. 

Unsurprisingly, the move would have the public’s support: a poll conducted by YouGov in 2021 found that roughly half of the population would be in favour of replacing lost public holidays, while a third were against the proposal. 

Critics say that the additional days off would potentially damage Germany’s international competitiveness, pointing out that the federal republic has some of the shortest annual working hours in the EU, and, together with Denmark, the most generous entitlement to holiday leave. 



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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