Saxony’s state parliament rejects alternative holidays
The left in Saxony wants public holidays to be made up if they fall on the weekend – as has already happened in many countries around the world. But the bill fails. Why is that?
By Michael Roth
It sounded tempting: Under the 2022 calendar, employees in Saxony could be given two more days off at short notice than they are entitled to at the end of the year. But the state parliament on Wednesday rejected the Left’s draft law for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day – if from now on all public holidays are on weekends.
The party refers to the “constitutionally guaranteed protection of rest from work and mental improvement”. Public holidays are “regular extras, from basically (worked) days off to non-worked weekend days,” Die Link argues, which speaks to “negligible additional costs” for independent state and municipalities.
In 2022, New Year’s Day, May 1 and Christmas Day will fall on a weekend for an extra day off – next January 1. Last year, employees in Germany even lost five days of vacation. While Easter, Pentecost, Ascension Day, Reformation Day, and the Day of Penance and Prayer in Saxony are fixed, others wander through the week.
“A good point, but…”
But the revolution in the calendar was cancelled. According to the decision recommended by the internal committee, the chairman of the SPD parliamentary group expressed “great sympathy” which was not shared by the entire coalition. CDU representative speaks of a “cheerful draft law”. On the face of it, a safe holiday is a good thing, but you have to ask why holidays are. It is not about extra holidays, but about religious and socio-political reasons. German unity can also be appreciated over the weekend. A public holiday will also be at the expense of the employer.
The AfD representative adds that Saxony will gain compared to other federal states. The Alliance Greens “understands the fundamental concern” but rejects it because “extensive holiday entitlement is derived from the end of the working day”. The federal government is responsible for holiday leave. Ultimately, the committee recommended rejecting the bill by a vote of 16:2.
In state parliament debate, Left Party leader Rico Gebhard on Wednesday indicated that additional public holidays were not at risk. “But we want the people of Saxony to get all the public holidays they deserve – even if they come at the weekend.” That will increase employee satisfaction and productivity and make Saxony even more attractive as a place to work.
Basic rule as a party crasher
You can’t celebrate October 3rd on October 4th, argues Ronnie Wöhner from the CDU and calls the bill “moronic”. Sebastian Whipple from the AfD speaks of “left-wing populist nonsense” that costs the Free State an average of four extra days each year. According to Valentin Lippmann from the Alliance Greens, “appropriate demand” is called “the basic rule as a party crasher”. Vacation law is administered by the federal government, and states cannot expand claims. Henning Hohmann from the SPD also sees an increasing workload for employees, but also points to the capacity of the federal government.
Saxony’s Interior Minister Armin Schuster (CDU) does not want to touch the festive spirit of public holidays. And, according to the Ifo Institute, a public holiday costs the Free State €162 million in gross domestic product, the sum of all goods and services produced. He recommends rejecting the bill on legal and Christian above all economic grounds. People’s representatives adhere to this by a large majority.
Sächsische.de Recently reportedTwo Dresden entrepreneurs are fed up with the debate and are guaranteeing vacations to their employees on their own initiative. At Ken Berger’s tax consultancy and Sebastian Strobel’s IT services provider Altrotech, such public holidays are now brought to Fridays. The following Monday is free for employees who guarantee that customers can arrive that day, and those on vacation will receive credit for that day. Implementation is “a problem of organization rather than additional costs,” says Berger. Work is distributed differently. Strobel confirms that the Holiday Guarantee®, which Berger used to protect, stuck with job ads and allowed him to use the term.
Three more years of patience
The same applies to what the holiday pioneers decided for their companies, and it was established by legislators in Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and a good 80 countries. In Belgium, employees can even freely choose a day off, while in Italy there is wage compensation instead of time off.
A debate has also been going on in Germany for years, but politicians are finding it difficult. Depending on the region, there are ten to twelve public holidays per year for the state. Had the left-wing bill passed, the upcoming Christmas Day and New Year’s Day – both on a Sunday – could have been made the following Tuesday or Monday.
Time to wait patiently for another three years! 2025 is declared as an employee friendly year with only public holidays and several bridging days to extend leave.
Disagreement over free vacation
- Public holidays in Germany are determined by the federal states.
- According to the opinion research firm Yougov, almost half of Germans are in favor of celebrating the weekend holidays on Monday. A third of respondents disagreed.
- Saxony has six fixed-date public holidays: January 1 (New Year), May 1 (Labor Day), October 3 (Unity Day), October 31 (Renovation Festival), and November 25/26. December (1/2 Christmas Day).
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