The first day of the year already indicated what employees will have to prepare for in 2022. New Year’s Day fell on a Saturday, a day when most workers are off anyway.
Ironically, May 1st, Labor Day, was also on a Sunday. And this year’s Christmas celebration marks the climax: Christmas Eve and Christmas Day fall on the same weekend.
2022 is really not a worker-friendly year. Three of the nine national public holidays fall on weekends, and New Year’s Eve also falls on a Saturday.
What makes employees sad makes business happy. Because public holidays have an effect on the gross domestic product. According to the Bundesbank, if the working days increase by one percent (around 3.6 days) per year, this leads to an average increase in production of at least 0.3 percent.
As in the past two years, the so-called calendar factor will be above 100 in 2022. This means: Measured against neutral years, the distribution of public holidays benefits economic performance more than it harms it.
In 2021, the effect was even greater: On average across Germany, employees had to work 0.4 days more than in 2022. The fractional number results from the fact that the Federal Statistical Office forms the average from the different number of public holidays in the federal states.
In general, however, German employees cannot complain about too little free time. In addition to the nine national public holidays, there are up to five regional public holidays in some places. In addition, Germans are among the employees with the most vacation days worldwide. The employer granted them an average of 27 days last year.
The global average was just 18 vacation days, according to a survey by the online travel agent Expedia. And only 19 percent of Germans allowed vacation days to lapse. In Australia and New Zealand, on the other hand, things are very different. Here, employees only had an average of 19 days off last year, of which they in turn only took 13 days.
Nevertheless, according to the Expedia survey, Germans are particularly dissatisfied with their work-life balance. Almost four out of five employees experienced an acute shortage of vacation time last year, especially women and young people up to the age of 35. For comparison: in France it was two thirds, in Great Britain it was only about one in two.
No wonder, then, that popular demands for more days off have recently emerged. Some politicians are demanding that canceled public holidays be made up for without further ado. It is about giving the employees “something back that was taken away from them by accident in the calendar,” said Berlin Labor Senator Katja Kipping (left).
Her party colleagues Jan Korte, parliamentary manager of the parliamentary group in the Bundestag, and the Thuringian Minister of Labor Heike Werner also supported such a plan.
However, the federal government around Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) has already signaled that the topic is “currently not a top priority”. And so the holiday-loving Germans have to be patient. Because for employees it will not be much more relaxed again until 2024. Then not one of the nine nationwide public holidays will be on a weekend.
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