How educational leave works (Bildungsurlaub)

In Berlin, you can take educational leave. You get a paid vacation to improve your education. It’s called Bildungsurlaub or Bildungszeit.

What the Bildungsurlaub is for

You can use a Bildungsurlaub to take courses or attend seminars and training events. The training should benefit your employer directly or indirectly.11 For example, you can take German classes or learn a new tool that makes you more productive.

How long is a Bildungsurlaub?

If you work full-time, you get 5 days of paid educational leave per year. If you work part time, you get less.1

You can combine this year and next year’s allowance, and get 10 days of educational leave. For example, you can use your allowance for 2024 and 2025, and get 10 days off.4

Educational leave does not accumulate. If you don’t use it, you lose it.5

You get educational leave in addition to vacations days and public holidays. If you are sick during your Bildungsurlaub, it counts as normal sick days, and you get your Bildungsurlaub days back.3

Bildungsurlaub requirements

All employees can get educational leave, including interns and trainees.10

To get educational leave, you must…

  • Work for the same employer for at least 6 months.6
  • Apply at least 6 weeks before your leave.7
  • Take at least 1 day of educational leave.
  • Take a recognised course in a public school, a community college (Volkshochschule), a public university (Hochschule), or a recognised private school. In Berlin, many private language schools are recognised.9

Find recognised courses or use

If your course is not officially recognised for a Bildungsurlaub, the course provider must get recognised first.

Educational leave is a right. Your employer must allow it, but there are times exceptions. Your employer can refuse your educational leave if…

  • The company has under 20 employees
  • or your vacation conflicts with the business operations
  • or over 10% of the employees are taking a Bildungsurlaub this year8

More information about educational leave

How to apply for Bildungsurlaub

Ask your employer in writing, or by email. Your employer has 2 weeks to make a decision. If they refuse, they must explain why.

If you don’t take a recognised course, the course provider must get recognised by the state.

Alternatives to a Bildungsurlaub

If you want to take a short vacation, use your vacation days. All employees get vacation days.

Vacation days in Germany

If you need time off because of your mental health, get a sick note, and take sick leave.

Sick leave in Germany

If you want to get a longer vacation, take a sabbatical.

Sabbatical leave in Germany

Other German states like Baden-Württemberg have something similar to a Bildungsurlaub.2

Sources and footnotes


  3. §2 Abs. 4 BiZeitG 

  4. §2 Abs. 1 BiZeitG 

  5. §2 Abs. 3 BiZeitG 

  6. §3 BiZeitG 

  7. §4 Abs. 1 BiZeitG 

  8. §4 Abs. 4 BiZeitG 

  9. §10 BiZeitG 

  10. §1 Abs. 2 BiZeitG 

  11. §1 Abs. 5 BiZeitG