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Five days a year: apply for educational leave quickly and easily

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What do yoga by the sea, a language course in Gran Canaria and management training have in common? You usually get five days off a year for courses like this one. Because if you are not currently living in Bavaria or Saxony, you are entitled to educational leave. Learn something new, develop yourself professionally. This is documented by law.

Because educational leave is considered special leave, it cannot be deducted from the days off that your employment contract specifies. Nevertheless, very few make use of their rights – only two percent of 27 million entitled persons in Germany actually exercise their rights according to the German Trade Union Confederation.

The low turnout is amazing. Especially in view of the fact that lifelong learning is a leitmotif in a modern work culture. Lara Körber, who has hosted the information and booking platform bildungsurlauber.de with her two co-founders Sven Regenhardt and Anian Schmitt for about a year, sees several reasons for this. Many either do not know anything about their exemption claims. Or they are informed, but fear the disadvantages of the additional days off. You don’t want to let your colleagues down. Some also shy away from the boss’s reaction.

Every educational leave has a didactic concept that has been checked by the federal states

Perhaps not entirely unjustified. On the other hand, companies don’t want the additional days off to tear holes in their workflows and processes. On the part of employers, the fear that employees are still missing is great, says Körber. “That is too short-sighted,” she says. Because in the long run, not only the employee, but also the team and the employer benefit from someone taking further training.

You can pass on your knowledge to colleagues after a seminar, for example. Many of the educational leave offers improve physical or mental health – which reduces the risk of an employee becoming more seriously ill and absent for a longer period of time. Other courses are designed to develop professional competence. Or you improve in a language. Every educational leave has a didactic concept that has been checked by the relevant federal state ministries. “This gives you added value for your job,” says Körber.

Many still combine educational leave with boring Excel courses instead of sound meditation on the beach or a design thinking workshop in the big city. The process is also reputed to be complicated. The application for educational leave is relatively easy. Here are the most important questions and answers.

So you apply for educational leave

First of all, you should find out whether you are entitled to educational leave at all. Because: Those who live in Bavaria or Saxony are unfortunately unlucky. In all other federal states, you are generally entitled to apply for paid special leave – even if you are still in training.

But be careful: There are differences here too. In Berlin, for example, you can apply for educational leave after just six months of service. In Baden-Württemberg this only works after a year.

But you don’t have to study all of the rules. A tool from bildungsurlauber.de checks for you within 30 seconds whether you have a claim. There you will also find an overview of all approved courses, which can be filtered by federal state, and all the forms required to apply for the extra days off. You then simply hand them over to your employer.

The deadlines by when you have to submit your application to the employer vary between four and six weeks before the start of the educational leave, depending on the federal state. However, in order to avoid overlaps or anger, Körber recommends discussing the time with the boss and the team as early as possible.

Who pays for the training?

You have to pay for the seminars yourself. The employer does its part by continuing to pay your salary. According to Körber, many of the offers have also been verified by the health insurance companies – which in this case may contribute a part. Further training costs can also be offset against the tax.

Does the vacation have to do with my work?

The answer here is very clear: No, the educational leave does not have to be related to professional activity. Whether it’s a marketing course, back training on Sylt or time management: the offer is extremely diverse. You don’t have to stay in Germany either, you can travel abroad – for a language course, for example. The only restriction is that the educational leave must be recognized by the relevant federal state.

Can my boss refuse me educational leave?

Although you have the right to educational leave, the employer can refuse this for operational reasons – for example if there is an extreme shortage of staff or if an important project is pending. Here, too, there are different regulations in the individual federal states. In Hessen, for example, the employer may limit the offer to a third of his employers. In Berlin, existing vacation entitlements have priority.

If your educational leave is not approved, have the reasons given in writing. Then you can possibly have a professional check whether this is also permissible.

The good news is: In some federal states, educational leave can be saved. That is, you can take ten days in two years.

Is educational leave going despite the corona pandemic?

Your right to educational leave is also guaranteed during the pandemic. Many seminars run online during the lockdown, otherwise taking into account the distance and hygiene rules.

Körber believes that the pandemic will give educational leave another boost. Because the crisis has created completely new work structures. Routines need to be reconsidered and processes may need to be restructured. We also question our own needs and wishes. Further training can provide a good orientation.

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