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Germany
germany

Hours of Work in Germany

Standard hours in Germany

Monday to Saturday are considered the legal working days, but most employees typically work from Monday to Friday.

Workdays usually start between 8-9 am and finish between 5-6 pm. Lunch breaks are 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Maximum Working Hours & Overtime Laws in Germany

Working hours should not exceed 8 hours daily. They can be extended to 10 hours daily as long as the weekly hours are not more than 48.

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Overtime compensation

Germany does not have regulations on overtime compensation that entitles employees to overtime pay. If there are no other employment contract provisions, overtime has to be compensated with the regular salary. 

The employment contract can state that a certain amount of overtime (up to 15% of the regular working time) is compensated with the regular monthly salary. In this case, employers only have to pay overtime above this amount. If the compensation exceeds the contribution ceiling in the pension insurance, the entire overtime may be compensated by the regular monthly salary, which should be indicated on the contract.

Sunday working

Working on Sundays or public holidays is generally prohibited, with a few exceptions. If an employee does work, the employer must compensate the employee with corresponding time off within the following two weeks for working on Sunday or eight weeks for working during a public holiday.

Break rights

The employer must guarantee an uninterrupted rest period of at least 11 hours between workdays. 

Shifts that are between 6-9 hours come with one 30-minute break or two 15-minute breaks. There should be a minimum 45-minute break after the first six hours for shifts longer than nine hours.

The working hours of pregnant women or nursing mothers, as well as employees or trainees under 18 years of age, cannot be extended beyond eight hours.

Night workers

Night work is only allowed for 8 hours per working day. It can be increased to 10 hours, provided the employee's average shift duration in the following month doesn't exceed eight hours. The employer must grant the night worker an appropriate number of paid days off for hours worked during the night time or a suitable supplement to their salary to which they are entitled.

Employee Time Tracking Obligations

From 2023, employers are obliged to record the beginning and end of an employee's daily working hours. It is no longer sufficient to provide a system merely as an option. The employer must verify that the employee actually records their working hours. While mandatory, the form in which it takes place isn't specified and could happen both digitally or manually. According to the Federal Labor Court that will depend on the circumstances of the individual case, such as the industry, the size of the company, the specific employee group, etc.

Penalties

Employers may be fined up to €15,000 if they are not complying with working time documentation. However, such fines are very rare. German authorities rarely verify compliance.

As for the new ECJ ruling, it remains to be seen whether further and stricter sanctions will be imposed in the future if employers do not introduce a working time recording system.

Concerned about violating your time tracking obligation in Germany?

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