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Maximum Working Hours | per Day | Week | Month | How Many Hours of Work Is Allowed | German Occupational Safety and Health Act | Maximum Work Time

Maximum Working Hours (per Day, Week & Month) — How Many Hours Can You Work?

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The question of how long employees are allowed to work per day, week, and month is a regular concern for companies. Staff planning and organization always need to keep maximum working hours in mind. At the same time, employees should be aware of the legal regulations so they can identify any potential errors made by their superiors. In Germany, the Working Hours Act is the source of these legal regulations.

 

Content

↓ Definition of working hours
↓ How the Working Hours Act regulates working hours
↓ Checklist: Exceptions to the Working Hours Act
↓ 5 tips for complying with maximum working hours
↓ How is Sunday and holiday work regulated?
↓ How does shift work affect maximum working hours?
↓ What are breaks and daily rest?

 

 


Definition of Working Hours

Working hours refer to the period between the start and end of work. They describe the time during which the employee performs their work and makes their working capacity available to the employer. While breaks are legally required, they do not count as working hours and are deducted from it.

 

 


How the Working Hours Act Regulates Working Hours

In Germany, the Working Hours Act (ArbZG) contains all the prescribed provisions regarding working hours. It aims to create suitable working conditions and protect the health and safety of employees. For those who have questions about maximum working hours or want to understand the regulations concerning shift and night work, answers can be found in the Working Hours Act. If violations are suspected, it may also be helpful to consult a lawyer. Employees can also turn to labor unions and seek legal advice if necessary.

Maximum Working Hours per Day

The Working Hours Act defines the daily working hours of employees in § 3 of the ArbZG. This cannot exceed eight hours. With that said, appropriate compensation means maximum working hours per day can be extended to up to ten hours.

Maximum Working Hours per Week

Since the 8-hour day is the standard, and a workweek of five days is assumed, the 40-hour workweek is the norm. However, six workdays are also permissible and common in many sectors. If working hours are extended to ten hours per day, this can result in a weekly working time of up to 60 hours.

Maximum Working Hours per Month

In principle, the Working Hours Act allows a monthly work time of up to 260 hours. This is achieved when a company schedules employees to work ten hours a day, six days a week. This is permissible but not for an extended period of time. According to § 3 of the ArbZG, the average work time must be eight hours on workdays over a period of six months or 24 weeks.

 

 


Checklist: Exceptions to the Working Hours Act

For many employees, an 8-hour workday is a given, and they don’t need to think about complying with the maximum working hours. In other cases, a high workload is required, or there may be very different working hours. The German legislature addresses this by both setting a maximum working time and allowing for some exceptions. The following checklist shows the exceptions to the Working Hours Act, which allow workdays of up to twelve hours:

  • Healthcare sector
  • Public sector
  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Military

 

 


5 Tips for Complying with the Maximum Working Hours

Compliance with the maximum working hours should always be a top priority in order to meet legal requirements. Overloading the staff is not in the company’s best interest either. Overworked employees are more likely to get sick, resulting in more absences. For that reason, consider the following tips:

  • Familiarize yourself with the provisions of the Working Hours Act regarding maximum working hours
  • Establish continuous and reliable time recording
  • Familiarize yourself with the exceptions within the Working Hours Act
  • Inform employees about the required rest periods
  • Examine whether a collective agreement specifies the maximum working hours

 

 


How Is Sunday and Holiday Work Regulated?

In the context of legal regulations on working hours, Sundays and holidays play a special role. According to § 9 of the ArbZG, Sundays and legal holidays are generally considered days of rest from work. There are, however, exceptions. In shift work, Sunday and holiday rest may be postponed. Moreover, there are areas such as emergency services, hospitals, the police, and restaurants for which these don’t apply.

 

 


How Does Shift Work Affect Maximum Working Hours?

Shift work results in working hours that deviate from the norm. Employees engaged in shift work do not follow a traditional 9-to-5 job and instead must complete morning shifts, evening shifts, or even night shifts. Generally, regulations regarding maximum working hours also apply to employees in shift work. That means a maximum of eight hours per day is allowed. Exceptions allow up to ten-hour shifts, but the mandatory rest periods always need to be observed.

 

 


What Are Breaks and Daily Rest?

Working hours are always associated with rest and break times. This is what they specifically mean:

  • Breaks
    Breaks are referred to as rest periods in accordance with § 4 of the ArbZG and are a right of employees. With a working time of six to nine hours, employees are entitled to at least 30 minutes of break. If working more than nine hours, a statutory break of at least 45 minutes is stipulated. The first break must be taken no later than after six hours of continuous work.
  • Daily rest
    Daily rest is the period between two work assignments. It refers to the time between the end of work on one day and the start of work on the following day. According to § 5 of the ArbZG, this rest period must generally be at least eleven hours.

How Can Modern IT Support Compliance with Maximum Working Hours?

It should be a given to record employees’ working hours. Time recording brings advantages to both employees and companies, and it is also a legal requirement (obligation to record working hours). The use of modern IT systems for time management, time recording, and workforce management can simplify the recording process and help automatically ensure compliance with maximum working hours. Professional software captures employees’ working hours and sends alerts in case of any violations. Even more precise and secure is software for staff planning. It automatically takes into account all necessary requirements and rules, including maximum working hours, when creating schedules.

 


Summary

In cases of staff shortages, existing employees are often the first to step in to complete the tasks at hand. The result: Overwork and employee dissatisfaction. Legal issues also become a problem. That’s why there are provisions in the Working Hours Act that regulate maximum working hours. Only by doing so can employees be protected from a health standpoint and remain with the company for a long time.

 


Want to Learn More?

Additional information on our staffing software and its areas of application can be found here:

→ Time recording from plano

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