Differences persist in holidays and holiday bonuses in 1998

In 1998, significant differences persist in collectively agreed holiday bonuses between various sectors, as well as between western and eastern Germany, according to research by the Institute for Economics and Social Science.

According to a recent study of 1998 provisions by the Institute for Economics and Social Science (Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliches Institut, WSI), most employees in Germany receive a collectively agreed holiday bonus, though there are significant sectoral differences in the amount of the bonus. While most employees are due 30 days' paid leave per year, the average annual holiday bonus for a blue collar worker in a middle-range income group ranges between DEM 205 and DEM 3,043.

In western Germany, the highest level of holiday bonus has been agreed in the printing industry (DEM 2,639) and wood processing (DEM 2,571 for blue-collar and DEM 3,043 for white-collar workers). Branches with a relatively low holiday bonus are mining (DEM 300), agriculture (DEM 360) and public services (DEM 650). In the iron and steel industry and in banking there exists no collectively agreed holiday bonus.

In comparison, holiday bonus in many east German sectors are still lower than in the west. Only employees in chemicals, metalworking, paper processing, printing and railways so far receive the same holiday bonus as their western colleagues. In some sectors, like the automobile trade or textiles, the east German employees get less than half of the west German holiday bonus or even receive no holiday payments at all (as in the clothing industry). In various east German sectors, the number of collectively agreed holidays per year is still below the level of the west.

Collectively agreed holidays and holiday bonus in Germany 1998
Branch-level collective agreement No. of days' annual holiday Average holiday bonus for employee in mid-range income group
. West East West*** East***
Agriculture 22-25* 20-30** 20-30 DEM 360* DEM 396** DEM 500
Mining 30 30 DEM 300 DEM 746
Iron and steel 30 30 - -
Chemicals 30 30 DEM 1,200 DEM 1,200
Metalworking 30 30 DEM 2,110* DEM 2,423** DEM 2,112* DEM 2,597**
Automobile trade 30 28 DEM 2,283* DEM 2,450** DEM 1,030* DEM 1,175**
Wood processing 30 27 DEM 2,571* DEM 3,043** DEM 1,838
Paper processing 30 30 DEM 2,176* DEM 2,693** DEM 2,158* DEM 2,503**
Printing 30 30 DEM 2,639* DEM 2,637** DEM 2,639* DEM 2,789**
Textiles 30 28 DEM 788-DEM 1,412 DEM 205
Clothing 30 30 DEM 684.50-DEM 911.50 -
Sweets and confectionery 30 26-29 DEM 810 DEM 504
Construction 30 30 DEM 1,356* DEM 1,350** DEM 1,272* DEM 1,350**
Retail trade 25-30 25-30 DEM 1,804 DEM 1,349
Railway service 26-30 26-30 DEM 800 DEM 800
Banking 30 30 - -
Insurance 30 30 DEM 1,954 DEM 1,954
Hotels and restaurants 23-30 23-30 DEM 690 DEM 510
Cleaning trade 30 28 DEM 900* DEM 784*
Public services 26-30 26-30 DEM 650* DEM 500

* Blue-collar workers.

** White-collar workers.

*** Regional differences are possible.

Source: WSI Collective Agreement Archive 1998.

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