ECJ Ruling on Vacation Expiry

Vacation Expiry and Transfer

Until now, the rule in German companies was: vacation automatically expires at the end of the year if it has not been taken by then (Section 7 (3) BUrlG). Under certain conditions, vacation entitlement can be carried over until March 31 of the following year. However, there must be urgent personal or operational reasons for this. Examples are:

  • Incapacity for work
  • Maternity leave
  • Increased need for work

Vacation may no longer automatically expire

Back in 2018, the ECJ ruled that vacation entitlements may no longer be forfeited in principle if the employee has not taken the vacation on time. Instead, it is the employer’s duty to point out the vacation entitlement and its expiry.


In concrete terms, this means that vacation may only expire if the employer …


  • has informed the employee of the impending expiry,
  • has requested the employee to apply for the leave, and
  • has given him the opportunity to take the leave.

No statutory Limitation without Cooperation

The employer’s duty to cooperate is also decisive for the limitation of the vacation entitlement. Previously, vacation that was not taken expired after three years at the latest in accordance with Section 195 of the German Civil Code.

A statutory vacation limitation period is still legal. However, the statute of limitations may only be applied if the employer has fulfilled its duty to provide information.

Keeping an Eye on Vacation Entitlement

In many companies, vacation requests are still forwarded to the HR department in paper form. This practice makes it difficult for employees to keep track of their vacation entitlement. To do so, they would have to keep separate records of available and granted vacation days.


The ECJ and German labor law relieve employees of this responsibility. Instead, the employer must make the current status of the vacation account transparent and give timely notice of vacation days threatened with expiration. A digital portal that employees can use to view their vacation balance themselves is the best solution for this.

Online Cacation Account and Digital Cacation Application

With the teamspace enterprise software, employees have access to their vacation account. They can view it online at any time and apply for leave digitally. The vacation account shows all important information for the current calendar year at a glance:

Supervisors and HR managers can see all their employees’ vacation entitlements at a glance and can warn them in good time if vacation is about to expire. Incoming vacation requests can be digitally checked and approved. If desired, overtime can also be tracked and displayed.

vacation expiry

Test vacation management with teamspace

You want to get an idea of the online leave management with teamspace? Then take advantage of our free trial version. We will be happy to support you in setting it up.