working time

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Work is in labor law the period in which an employee of his obligation to work must comply, with breaks usually do not count. For people who are self-employed rather than employees or who have a contract without fixed working hours, it is the time that they spend at their respective job or spend on gainful employment . Leisure time is a complementary term .


The working hours are not exclusively filled with the work performed by the employee, but also include statutory or collective bargaining periods in which the duty to work is suspended. Above all, this includes work breaks. Not on working time is part of the commute . However, it is not part of the leisure time either, but counts as part of the mandatory period , during which “activities such as household and repair work, visits to the authorities ...” are carried out. The changing time (see changing and set-up time ), on the other hand, is a maximum of 27 minutes per working day if the prescribed work clothes are to be put on and taken off in a changing room . The industrial accident happens insurance law during working hours ( § 8 SGB VII ), whereby also the paths accident is equal to the accident ( § 8 para. 2 no. 1 SGB VII). Subordination is, who does not substantially free its activities make can and determine its working time ( § 611a BGB ).

Work breaks

Various terms are subsumed under work breaks:

  • Rest time : Non-working time between the individual working days .
  • Rest break is the break from work in the narrower sense: legally stipulated breaks within a working day, which as a rule do not count towards working hours. In addition to recreation, they are v. a. intended for taking a meal in a suitable environment and socializing. However, the work should be designed in such a way that relaxation is not necessary (see work structuring ).
  • A short break is a break in work that lasts less than 15 minutes.
  • Recovery time: Time that is granted for recovery after work with a workload above the permanent performance limit (see: Process type ). It is working time and is meaningfully granted immediately after the stress.

shift work

Shift work consists of several employees working at the same workplace or on the same task at different times (e.g. early shift or night shift ) or staff working at very unusual times (e.g. at night ). It leads to increased physical and psychosocial workload and also brings with it a higher risk of errors and accidents . The spread of shift work varies greatly from country to country, but has been increasing recently.

Codetermination (Germany)

In companies with council this has employee representatives about the beginning and the end of the working day, including the breaks and the distribution of working on several weekdays a say ( § 87 para. 1 no. 2 WCA ). Co-determination also applies to the temporary shortening and extension of working hours ( Section 87 (1) No. 3 BetrVG). The works council exercises its co-determination with regard to working hours, also taking into account occupational health and safety (so reference from Section 5 (3) No. 4 ArbSchG to Section 87 (1) No. 7 BetrVG). The same applies to the public service . the participation rights of the staff council .

Flexibility of working hours

In addition, flexible working hours that deviate from the standard working hours model are discussed again and again. So different are working models meant as annual working hours, working time accounts , flextime , a working time , part-time work , job sharing , working life account , Modular working , telecommuting , time Autonomous working groups , on-call work , individual work and sabbaticals .

Different models are used as the basis for calculating the fee. There are employment relationships in which only the respective working hours are paid and others in which a fixed monthly basic remuneration is paid regardless of the number of days of attendance. Overall, a lower actual weekly working time facilitates the flexibility considerably, since more leisure rooms can be used. The health and social effects depend very much on the specific agreements (e.g. notice periods for changes), the environment (e.g. traffic, childcare ) and on whether employees themselves have a relevant influence on the determination of the times.

The concrete forms and the prevalence of flexible working time models differ greatly from country to country.

In this context, the breathing factory describes a flexible, production-oriented company that is able to react well to the order situation. This makes it possible for such a company to produce more when there is high demand through flexible employment contracts, and less in the other case. This is achieved, for example, through additional shifts or work on Sundays and public holidays. This is typical in the computer industry or generally in the assembly of electronic consumer products.

A long weekend (Saturday and Sunday) with the family is less and less possible for many employees in Germany today. A good 45 percent of them worked at least occasionally in 2008, like on other working days.

Unpaid working time (Germany)

Part of the working time is not remunerated in monetary terms or through corresponding time off. In a report by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung it is emphasized that unpaid overtime takes place in more than 20% of the companies with a works council and that in every third company with working time accounts, parts of the accumulated time credits expire. According to the report, the total extent of such unpaid working time cannot yet be quantified and is insufficiently recorded in working time statistics.

History of working hours

In pre-industrial times, when the majority of the population worked in agriculture , working hours were based on natural limits such as the length of the day; people worked longer in summer than in winter. With industrialization , there was not only artificial lighting using gas or electricity, but also efforts to extend the operating time of capital-intensive machines around the clock as possible. Since there were no statutory and collective bargaining barriers at the same time and the wages were very low due to an excess supply of labor, this led to almost unlimited working days of 16 hours and more. Alcoholism , the impoverishment of large sections of the population and a shortened life expectancy of the workforce were the result. Accordingly, one of the first demands of the labor movement was the limitation of working hours, which was implemented in many industrialized countries at the end of the 19th century. With the introduction of the eight-hour day that belonged to Degussa 1884 internationally among the front-runners.

In 1900 the 10-hour working day (in a six-day week) became law in the German Reich. Around 1918, the eight-hour working day was regulated in national laws in many countries around the world, such as Germany or the USA. Taylorism , founded by Frederick Winslow Taylor in 1911, looked at working time in the ergonomic sense, whereby it was important to him to optimally organize breaks in the sense of the work curve for the purpose of recovery in order to achieve the best way ( English one best way ). To do this, Taylor divided the individual work processes into precisely regulated process sections so that he could introduce regulations for working hours. Taylorism, named after him, aimed to get the greatest possible work performance out of the worker with a given working time . In 1955/56 the five-day week was gradually implemented in the Federal Republic. The 40-hour week followed in 1965 . In the GDR , the five-day week was initially set for every other week by law of April 9, 1966; by resolution of the Council of Ministers of May 3, 1967, it then applied continuously for every week from August 1967. In return, some (mainly Christian) holidays were abolished.

In 1990, in the changing Federal Republic of Germany, the collective bargaining parties in the metal, electrical and printing industries agreed on a gradual introduction of the 35-hour week until 1995. Even before the end of the 1990s, reductions in working hours were reversed in many places. Gradually, the 38.5 hours per week for civil servants were , exceptionally, extended to up to 42 hours per week.

Weekly working hours

Researchers Michael Huberman and Chris Minns published estimates of weekly working hours as far back as the late 19th century. The data - shown in the chart - shows how hours worked in Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. Full-time employees now work 20 or even 30 hours a week less than in the 19th century.

Various authors point out that a reduction in working hours does not necessarily mean a decrease in production . So it was said z. B. in 2002: “The fact is that the volume of work , that is, the number of hours actually worked per head of the population, has halved between 1900 and 2000. ... It is correct that today - however, due to the progress in productivity - six times the amount of goods and services is generated per capita than 100 years ago ”.

In a comparison of the entire German labor market in 2008 with that of the Federal Republic (excluding the GDR) in 1960, the volume of work only increased by 2.7%, but at the same time the potential of the labor force rose by 69% from 26.3 million to 44.4 million people .

Evaluation of changes in working hours

It has always been controversial whether it makes sense to reduce or extend working hours for normal workers (ie full-time workers). The changes in socially customary working hours change the supply of labor. A decreasing supply strengthens the union side in collective bargaining negotiations , an increasing one that of the employers . Accordingly, unions predominantly advocate reductions in working hours, but employers consider an increase in working hours to be sensible.

The question of optimal working hours is also controversial. The neoclassical theory argues: the longer the working hours, the higher the amount of goods and services generated and thus the wages. With increasing working hours, the suffering increases. An optimal working time is therefore the working time in which the marginal utility of the higher wage corresponds to the marginal damage of the additional work suffering. This also partly explains the reduction in working hours in the past: many people have free time worth more than additional income.

Health aspects are also discussed in this context. Excessive working hours are a source of health problems. An indication of this is the correlation between shorter working hours and longer life expectancy. Longer working hours can mean that employees are overburdened and overwhelmed. As a result, z. B. Increase absenteeism due to mental illness ( burnout syndrome ). The connection between increasing demands in the workplace, increasing stress, increasing competitive pressure and illnesses is evident. Working hours of more than 8 hours, work at night or many days in a row, as well as few breaks or shortened rest periods increase the risk of accidents .

The topic is also part of the growth critique . Sections of the growth-critical movement are calling for a rethink on the subject of working hours and a move away from the one-sided economistically influenced thinking that people “live to work, work to earn and earn to consume” . Work and life have to be brought into balance. The dogma of the 40-hour and more week is outdated. It comes from the industrial age.

The debate about correct working hours also addresses the issue of work-life balance . Shorter working hours enabled people to devote more time to their relationships. They allowed more space for leisure to enjoy life. In addition, shorter weekly working hours help to be more careful with precious resources and to behave in a more environmentally conscious manner.

In addition, the question of working hours is discussed in connection with the national accounts . While longer working hours lead to an increase in gross domestic product , a reduction in working hours - while maintaining productivity - should, according to some researchers, lead to a reduction in social inequality in society. The unemployed could therefore be better integrated into the labor market, since the work would have to be distributed among a larger number of employees. It also enables a fairer division of labor between the sexes. Men and women would have more time for economically relevant but unpaid work in the family (household, child-rearing, parenting) or volunteer work for society.

Working time measurement

The recording of the working time is possible with a time clock , for example . There is now also a mobile time recording . However, the employer in Germany is obliged to record the working hours exceeding eight hours on working days and all working hours on Sundays and public holidays ( Section 16 (2) ArbZG). The practice of making working hours more flexible shows that employers were able to instruct their employees to comply with the recording obligation. On the one hand, this reduces the monitoring of employees by employers; on the other hand, employers free themselves from part of their responsibility for correct time recording. The employer can also transfer the recording obligation to the employee. This person must then independently write down the times that exceed the daily working hours agreed in the collective agreement or the employment contract (usually approx. 8 hours). However, by transferring the obligation to record, the employer cannot (completely) sneak out of his responsibility to comply with the maximum working hours. He must at least check in regular spot checks that the maximum working hours are not exceeded.

Legal situation in Europe

This legal situation changed after a 2019 ECJ ruling. The ECJ advocated limiting the maximum working hours and daily and weekly rest periods. In addition, according to Articles 3 and 5 of Directive 2003/88 / EC , the EU member states must take the necessary measures to ensure that every employee has a minimum rest period of eleven consecutive hours per 24-hour period and a continuous minimum rest period of 24 hours plus the daily rest of eleven hours is granted in accordance with Article 3 of this Directive. In addition, Article 6 (b) of Directive 2003/88 / EC obliges the Member States to set an upper limit of 48 hours for the average weekly working time, whereby it is expressly made clear that this upper limit includes overtime. According to Art. 2 No. 1 of this directive, working time is any "period of time during which an employee works in accordance with national law and / or practice, is available to the employer and carries out his activity or performs tasks."

Fraud and exploitation

If the overtime is deliberately not documented truthfully, then there is an offense of fraud if the wrong documentation is supposed to conceal working hours that can lead to fatigue.

This also applies if it is company practice not to truthfully document working times that, for example, exceed 10 hours. The employee does not lose his insurance cover simply by exceeding working hours , because it is the employer's responsibility to enforce compliance with working time regulations. Proper documentation of working hours is required for this.

This also applies if the employer demands overtime, on-call or on-call services, but fails to record them or even suppresses them, possibly contrary to the contractual agreement in the employment contract.

Many statutory exceptions stipulate that, in addition to limiting daily working hours, the average working time within a certain period of time must not exceed a specified value, for example 48 hours per week within six months. If false information is deliberately given in the time recording, which is necessary to check compliance with this restriction , this can also lead to criminal prosecution for fraud in this case . Exceeding a maximum working time is initially only an administrative offense on the part of the employer.

economic aspects

Changes in working hours have a direct effect on the working capacity and thus on the entire capacity of a company . If working hours are reduced, then at least with limitational production factors , the volume of work and sales volume also decrease and vice versa. The personnel costs change with a change of working only if time wage is. If the work intensity is changed while the working hours remain unchanged , the capacity also changes due to the intensity adjustment . The shortening of the working week may medium overtime or increasing human resource capacity ( adjustment of personnel ) result. The introduction or deletion of public holidays or calendar effects (a public holiday falls on a Sunday) also have an impact not only on companies, but also on the entire economy (change in gross domestic product ).


EU law

According to Article 2 No. 1 of Directive 2003/88 / EC on certain aspects of the organization of working time , working time in EU law is understood to mean any period of time “during which an employee works in accordance with national legislation and / or practice is available to the employer and carries out its activity or performs tasks ”. This includes on- call services . This EU guideline is the general labor law condition in all EU member states .

According to Article 31 (2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union , employees have the right to limit the maximum working hours, to daily and weekly rest periods and to paid annual leave .

International comparison of working hours

Usual working hours (hours / year) of important OECD countries according to IAT 2003

Comparing working hours internationally is not easy. The OECD statistics are often quoted in the media. According to this, the average working time in Germany in 2003 was 1,361 hours per year. Of the 12 old EC countries, only a little less worked in the Netherlands than in Germany. In its statistics, however, the OECD itself points out that such a comparison across the countries with their figures is inadmissible, as the individual countries collect the data in very different ways and, for example, have part-time work to a different extent and this falsifies the statistics.

The Institute for Work and Technology in Gelsenkirchen has therefore developed a key figure with the usual annual working hours, which is based only on dependent full-time employment relationships and for which only the collectively agreed working hours plus the usual overtime as well as vacation and public holidays are taken into account.

When it comes to vacation time , Germany is well above the EU average (25.9 days) with 29.1 days per year. By contrast, between 2000 and 2002 there were only 10 strike days for every 1,000 workers . This puts Germany in the third of the EU countries in which there is the least strike; in Spain workers went on strike for 489 days and in Italy for 433 days.

In a study by the EU authority on the improvement of living and working conditions in Dublin in 2008, France had 38.4 hours per week, the lowest weekly working hours in a European comparison. Romanians work the longest with 41.8 hours, while Germany was in the upper range with an average real working time of 41.2 hours. In addition, the actual weekly working hours are longer because many employees work overtime or work in companies that are not subject to collective bargaining agreements . However, these figures do not take into account the number of vacation days.


The most important legal bases are the Working Hours Act (ArbzG) for the private sector and the Working Hours Ordinance (AZV) for the standard addressees of civil servants . There are special regulations for flexible working hours and time compensation . Compliance with the regulations is monitored by the trade supervisory authority - also on request - and is reinforced with regulatory and criminal provisions ( § 22 , § 23 ArbzG).

Working Hours Act

The Working Hours Act (ArbzG) defines working hours in Section 2 (1) ArbzG as the time from the beginning to the end of work at the workplace without breaks, whereby in underground mining , the break times count as working hours. Night time is from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., in bakeries and pastry shops from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. ( Section 2 (3) ArbzG). The length of working hours is usually regulated in an employment contract. It usually has a direct influence on the calculation of wages ( time wages ). However, a contractual regulation of working hours always finds its limits in the ArbzG. Through collective agreements , narrower limits, but also regulations that go beyond the limits of the ArbZG ( Section 7 ArbZG), can be agreed.

According to § 3 ArbzG, the working day of the employees may not exceed eight hours; it can only be extended to up to ten hours ( maximum working time ) if within six calendar months or within 24 weeks an average of eight hours on working days is not exceeded. In § 4 ArbzG the rest breaks are regulated, which must be at least 30 minutes on the working day . According to Section 5 (1) ArbzG, the rest period must be at least eleven hours, although a shortening is permitted for certain economic sectors . Section 6 ArbzG regulates night work and shift work . Special regulations exist due to § 7 ArbzG for work readiness or on- call duty . In general, according to § 9 ArbzG, the rest of the day on Sundays and public holidays must be observed, but § 10 ArbzG allows numerous exceptions.

Working time regulation

The Working Hours Ordinance (AZV) sets the weekly working time for civil servants at 41 hours ( § 3 Paragraph 1 AZV), the maximum working time including breaks is 13 hours according to § 4 AZV, whereby § 5 AZV does not include at least 30-minute rest breaks during working hours counts. According to § 11 AZV, business trips also belong to working hours , whereby travel times are generally not counted as working hours. On-call duty or on-call duty received special regulations in § 12 AZV and § 13 AZV.

Working time check

There are methods for checking the hours worked to check compliance with this legal basis. Such tools can also be tested based on ergonomic recommendations. In principle, the requirements of the Working Hours Act must be met ex ante , while an ex post review can only serve as a retrospective analysis.

Working hours in Switzerland

In Switzerland, working hours are traditionally among the highest in Europe. The 40-hour week, for example, was only introduced in the machine and watch industry with the 1993 peace agreement. In 2009 the statistical average working time for the past four years was 41.7 hours.

Working time in Austria

In Austria, the Working Hours Act forms the legal framework for determining the working hours of most employees. The Working Hours Act defines working hours as the time from the beginning to the end of work without breaks. It defines the normal daily and weekly working hours (40 hours a week, 8 hours a working day), with numerous variants, and the maximum limits on working hours. The difference between the maximum permissible working hours and normal working hours are overtime and overtime . The weekend rest is at least 36 hours, must begin on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the latest and includes Sunday.

See also


  • Buschmann, Rudolf; Ulber, Jürgen: Working Hours Act: Basic commentary with subsidiary laws and shop closing. 6th edition. Bund-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2009, ISBN 978-3-7663-3866-2 .
  • Sascha Kristin Futh: The DGB discovered the campaign. The struggle for a Saturday off day. In: Work - Movement - History. Journal for Historical Studies , Issue II / 2016.
  • Hamm, Ingo: Flexible working hours: account models - analysis and recommendations for action. Bund-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2008, (series of works and service agreements of the Hans Böckler Foundation), ISBN 978-3-7663-3729-0 .
  • Hamm, Ingo: Overtime, overtime. 2nd, revised and updated edition. Bund-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2004, ISBN 3-7663-3547-2 .
  • Lorenz, Frank; Schneider, Günter (Ed.): Trust working time, working time accounts, flexi models: Concepts and operational practice. VSA-Verlag, Hamburg 2005, ISBN 3-89965-108-1 .
  • Cowling, Keith; Poolsombat, Rattanasuda: Advertising and Labor Supply: Why do Americans work such long Hours (PDF, 38S .; 158 kB). In: The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS), Working Paper 789 [2007].
  • Marion Bretag: Making working time more flexible in the conflict of interests between employers and employees: an analysis of corporate policy . Utz, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-8316-0716-7 .
  • Michael Kopatz : work, happiness and sustainability. Why shorter working hours promote well-being, health, climate protection and fairness of resources. Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, Energy, Wuppertal 2012, ( online impw3.pdf as PDF, 60 pages, 5.2 MB).
  • Heinz-J. Bontrup, Lars Niggemeyer, Jörg Melz: Working fair sharing. Overcome mass unemployment! Hamburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-89965-249-9 .

Web links

Wiktionary: working hours  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Renate Rau: On the interaction between work, stress and relaxation , in: Eva Bamberg / Antje Ducki / Anne-Marie Metz (eds.), Health Promotion and Health Management in the Working World, 2011, p. 84.
  2. BAG , judgment of October 26, 2016, Az. 5 AZR 168/16, full text .
  3. WSI expert Alexander Herzog-Stein: The weekend together is often canceled. Böckler impulse (PDF; 100 kB).
  4. Hartmut Seifert: From flextime to long-term account , in: WSI-Mitteilungen , 58 (6), pp. 308–313, 2005. Quoted from Hartmut Seifert: Conflict area working time policy development lines, design requirements and perspectives of working time. (PDF; 1.1 MB) Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, December 2006, accessed on November 2, 2010 ( ISBN 978-3-89892-604-1 ). P. 14
  5. Hartmut Seifert: Conflict Area Working Time Policy Development lines, design requirements and perspectives of working time. (PDF; 1.1 MB) Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, December 2006, accessed on November 2, 2010 ( ISBN 978-3-89892-604-1 ). P. 14
  6. See Ralf Hoffrogge : Socialism and Workers' Movement in Germany. Stuttgart 2011, pp. 106-114.
  7. Irmgard Steinisch: Reduction of working hours and social change . In: Publication of the Historical Commission in Berlin. Volume 65. Verlag Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, p. 198.
  8. Fritz Giese, Psychological Dictionary , 1928, p. 159
  9. Renate Martens, The Dilemma of Technical Progress , 1989, p. 129
  10. See Sascha Kristin Futh: The DGB discovers the campaign. The struggle for a Saturday off day. In: Work - Movement - History. Journal for Historical Studies , Issue II / 2016.
  11. ^ Working Hours - Our World in Data. Retrieved May 19, 2019 .
  12. Meinhard Miegel: Growth doesn't bring jobs. In: Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung. August 26, 2002.
  13. Alternative Economic Policy Working Group , Memorandum 2009: From Crisis to Crash? Stabilization, restructuring, democratization - short version (PDF; 791 kB) - ISBN 978-3-89438-409-8 - flyer (PDF; 198 kB) therein: p. 18 of the short version
  14. Federal Ministry of the Interior: Annual working hours of a normal worker  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . Official calculation method for determining the annual working time in the Federal Republic of Germany@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  15. Health Report 2011: More and more days of absence due to mental illness. (JPEG) (No longer available online.) In: 2011, archived from the original on October 11, 2016 ; accessed on January 7, 2017 .
  16. EU study: Stress is the most common reason for sick leave. In: Spiegel Online . February 4, 2008, accessed January 7, 2017 .
  17. ^ Dorothee Fischer, David A. Lombardi, Simon Folkard, Joanna Willetts, David C. Christiani: Updating the "Risk Index": A systematic review and meta-analysis of occupational injuries and work schedule characteristics . In: Chronobiology International . tape 34 , no. 10 , November 26, 2017, ISSN  0742-0528 , p. 1423–1438 , doi : 10.1080 / 07420528.2017.1367305 ( [accessed May 10, 2020]).
  18. Anne Coote; Jane Franklin; Andrew Simms: 21 hours. Why a shorter working week can help us all to flourish in the 21st century.  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. In: New Economics Foundation (Ed.), London 2010, ISBN 978-1-904882-70-1 , p. 3.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  19. a b Anne Coote; Jane Franklin; Andrew Simms: 21 hours. Why a shorter working week can help us all to flourish in the 21st century.  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. In: New Economics Foundation (ed.), London 2010, ISBN 978-1-904882-70-1 , pp. 16-25.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  20. On the controversy of this self-recording by employees, see the comment on Section 16 (2) ArbZG in Rudolf Buschmann / Rudolf Ulber: Arbeitszeitgesetz: Basic commentary with subsidiary laws and shop closing times . Frankfurt am Main: Bund-Verlag, 2007 - ISBN 978-3-7663-3776-4 .
  21. ECJ, judgment of May 14, 2019, Az .: C-55/18 = NJW 2019, 1861
  22. Britta Jelinek / Manfred Hannich: Paths to efficient finance functions in credit institutions , 2009, p. 364.
  23. Matthias Premer: Grundzüge der Volkswirtschaftslehre: Macroeconomics and Microeconomics , 2015, p. 35.
  24. Steffen Lehndorff ( Institute for Labor and Technology ): IAT report: How long are the working hours in Germany Gelsenkirchen 2003, (PDF 210 kB).
  25. ^ Karl Brenke ( German Institute for Economic Research ): weekly report of DIW Berlin 47/04 - duration of working hours in Germany , Berlin 2004.
  26. Working hours: Germans are among the busiest in Europe. In: Spiegel Online . July 31, 2009, accessed January 7, 2017 .
  27. Working time developments - 2008. Retrieved on March 25, 2019 (English).
  28. Thomas Pfeiffer / Josef Sauer: Arbeitsschutz von AZ , 2013, p. 68.
  29. Working time check. In: Retrieved March 5, 2019 .
  30. Statistics Switzerland - Detailed results of the BUA ( Memento from May 21, 2014 in the Internet Archive )