If vacation plans are fixed but canceled leave is canceled, it is very uncomfortable for the employee. But approved vacation is basically fixed. A company can only change the vacation planning afterwards in rare exceptional cases. It also requires the consent of the employee concerned.
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It is true that every company has the right to tailor their employees' travel plans so that their operations are minimized. However, in principle, the law states that the company must take into account the holiday wishes of the staff. A once given commitment must therefore be complied with. This also applies to the subsequent determination that the time is not right. Accordingly, case law raises the bar when it is allowed to postpone or cancel approved holidays.
For example, it is not sufficient if the employee concerned is needed to temporarily cushion temporary peaks in order to handle a high seasonal workload. To postpone or cancel the holiday needs a weighty exception. For example, the consequence of a natural disaster or a business crisis that threatens our existence, which the employee could virtually solve as the only one. The unilateral cancellation of the vacation planning is only valid if the employer agrees with the employee by mutual agreement. It must state very clearly that approved leave is canceled and the employee agrees.
Even more difficult is the change in vacation planning, when the employee has already started his vacation and the company wants to call him back from the travel destination. From a legal point of view, it is completely inadmissible if the approved holiday is canceled or the holiday plan is otherwise changed. A clause in the employment contract, which requires the employee in an emergency leave cancellation, according to the case law of the Federal Labor Court on a regular basis ineffective (AZ 9 AZR 404/99). An exception also creates a clear agreement. If the employee is ready to return, the company has to bear all costs incurred – in case of doubt for the entire family.
Incidentally, such a reimbursement also applies if the vacation planning is postponed and the employee incurs additional costs as a result. Moving a hotel booking from the off-season to the more expensive peak season would be a fitting example in which the company has to bear the difference. So, if approved leave is canceled or the employee is supposed to postpone leave, that is usually inadmissible. However, it should be noted that an employee may not simply ignore an unlawful withdrawal. If he still goes on vacation, he violates his employment contract and can get a warning or even notice. Before being prevented by a temporary injunction of the Labor Court, a joint discussion is recommended for the amicable clarification of the situation.
Here you will find more information on the subject: vacation entitlement
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