November 15, 2016

How much work is allowed?

The German Working Hours Act (Arbeitszeitgesetz ArbZG) defines maximum working hours among other things. This law is part of occupational health and safety and does not apply to senior executives or physicians-in-chief.

What counts as working time?

Aside from actual working time, standby or emergency duty during which the employee needs to stay around is also considered as work by the ArbZG. On-call duty on the other hand is not included – as the employee gets to determine himself where he stays while on call. This changes if he is called to work which naturally qualifies as working time.

Travel time like e. g. the commute between home and workplace is not considered to be part of working hours. Exceptions are business trips during which the employee is performing an incriminating activity such as driving a vehicle himself or working while using public transportation. If the employee however decides to take the car even though the employer has offered him to pay for the train ride, the drive might not count as working time, depending on the regulatory agency.

When you have to call a day a day

According to § 3 ArbZG the maximum daily working time is eight hours. It is possible to increase up to ten hours per day and 60 hours per week on condition that within six calendar months or 24 weeks the average of 48 working hours is not exceeded.

About the obligation to rest

Conformable to § 4 ArbZG it is obligatory to take a break of 30 minutes during a working time of six to nine hours. If the employee works more than nine hours the rest period has to last 45 minutes. It is possible though to split up the break into several time segments.
In addition, § 5 ArbZG regulates that after quitting time the employee needs to observe a continuous break of eleven hours.

In case an employee is not allowed to work because he would otherwise violate the ArbZG, he usually does not get compensated for the work that has not been done.