Generally, Forced Holiday is not Possible
The Federal Holiday Benefits Act (Bundesurlaubsgesetz, BUrlG) states that the employee’s holiday wishes need to be taken into account when determining the period of holiday. Exceptions are only made when urgent operational concerns or holiday wishes of other employees deserving priority from a social point of view stand in the way. The Corona crisis does not meet any of the exceptions. Therefore, ignoring the wishes of the employees is generally not possible in the current situation. Apart from this, nothing else applies regarding the introduction of short-time work: Employees only need to use their vacation from the previous year before the introduction of short-time work if priority vacation wishes of employees do not conflict with this. Due to a new regulation, which is valid until December 31, 2020, vacation from the current year does not have to be used before the introduction of short-time work anyway.
Other rules apply if there is a works council in the company. In this case, company holidays, which require co-determination, can be agreed. If company holidays are introduced within the context of a company agreement, they constitute a company concern within the definition of the BUrlG, which entitles the employer to deviate from the holiday wishes of individual employees. In this way, the introduction of compulsory leave is thus possible.