Flexible working hours

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As a flexible work schedule (shortened Flex time called) are agreements referred to in terms of location and duration of the work of the so-called normal working hours vary. It can concern daily , weekly , monthly or other regulations.

Subject to "the beginning and end of the working day, including breaks and distribution of working time to the days of the week" when a collective reference exists, according to § 87 para. 1 no. 2 Works Constitution Act of participation of the works council . This entails that the interests in the organization of working time generally both employees as well as the objectives of the operation are considered. When organizing working hours, conflicts of interest can arise between employees and the employer . On the other hand, depending on its characteristics and use, it can be in the interests of both parties.

Historical background

In the industrialized countries , flexibility in working hours has become an important issue in collective bargaining and subsequent legislation since the 1980s . Without flexible working hours, a reduction in working hours was no longer negotiable. The way and the background of flexible working hours differ from country to country and depending on the time.

After the Second World War , due to the reconstruction of the economy in the Federal Republic of Germany, working hours were extended to a six-day week. In 1956, the five-day week was first wrested from the trade unions under the famous slogan “Saturdays are my father’s” . By the mid-1970s, the five-day week had established itself in almost all branches of industry. In 1960 the annual working time was 2,081 hours per year. From 1965, the 40-hour week applied in various industries . Following the oil price crisis in 1973, short-time working was agreed in large parts of the economy (by reducing overtime and collectively agreed working hours) in order to prevent mass layoffs (which in some cases also succeeded). In 1975 the working time was 1,737 hours per year.

After 1975, the demand for shorter working hours was exchanged for wage increases, but from 1975 to 1985 the number of vacation days rose from 24 to 30 days, which resulted in a slight further decrease in annual working hours.

With rising unemployment, the collective agreement in the metal industry in 1984 reduced the weekly working time from 40 hours to 38.5 hours after 16 years. In this collective agreement, two further important regulations were agreed to compensate:

  • The first concerns the differentiation of working hours.
The working hours in the company should be regulated by a works agreement, whereby different weekly working hours can be set for parts of the company and for individual employees.
  • The second regulation concerns working hours with a longer compensation period.
The collectively agreed weekly working hours must be achieved in an average of 2 months.

This collective agreement made it possible to reduce working hours in exchange for two types of flexible working hours. At the same time, part of the authority to regulate weekly working hours was transferred from the collective bargaining parties to the company partners . As a result, working time reductions and more flexible working hours were usually negotiated together in all sectors.

The actual working hours of full-time employees have been increasing again since the mid-1990s. Especially since the beginning of the new millennium, under Agenda 2010 and the keyword of globalization, there has been a clear tendency towards the extension of working hours, usually without compensation.

Such an extension of working hours means a factual but unspoken wage cut, which in view of the wage differences existing between Germany and - if you want to put it that way - competing nations only provides short-term relief, if at all, but otherwise represents a step in a hopeless direction. In recent years, many companies have made far less use of the opportunities to make working hours more flexible, and thus the opportunities for the productivity development that this entails, than would have been possible under the law and the collective bargaining agreement. An extension of working hours, as it is currently being discussed and implemented in many places, reduces the pressure to work on productivity and thus wastes time and opportunities to improve Germany's international competitiveness.

Working time flexibility

The more expensive the work becomes, the more it is the task of working time management to avoid idle staff. In other words: The resource work should be used as efficiently as possible. In a system with rigid working hours, however, it is difficult to follow fluctuating capacity requirements. If the order situation is weak, it may be necessary to keep employees busy with less value-adding work. In extreme cases, their presence alone must be paid for. If the workload is high, however, not only the additional hours but even these hours have to be paid a higher rate for overtime . Both are highly uneconomical from the employer's point of view.

The technical development and the increasing capitalization of the workplaces also brings the necessity to decouple operating hours from the usually shorter working hours . The operating hours of the increasingly expensive workplaces should therefore be longer than the working hours of the employees. In this case, flexible working hours allow more even utilization of technical installations in shift work.

The organization of operating and working hours has a considerable influence on capacity planning and control, as well as on work organization , and the use and requirements of personnel. Not in all cases, but often, it also brings about an extension of the employees' time sovereignty. So wherever fixed service times do not have to be ensured, but jobs are worked on, the inventory of which is subject to fluctuations, it is in the company's interest to only have staff available when they are needed. For the employee, however, this means an externally determined flexibility.

The employers' interest in increasing flexibility is offset by the interest of employees in the steadiness and calculability of their income, the ability to plan their leisure time and self-determined flexibility according to personal requirements or wishes. For parents in particular, it is often only possible to adjust the working hours if the childcare facilities or the caregivers are also willing to be flexible. To the extent that flexible working hours include greater time sovereignty for employees, they allow working hours to be better adapted to personal wishes and requirements and can thus contribute to a better work-life balance .

The conditions for flexible working hours usually stipulate that the employee, unless he is unable to work, compensates for the working hours himself when he visits a doctor . This is not necessarily the case with fixed working hours: in Germany, for example, except in the case of incapacity for work according to Section 616 of the German Civil Code (BGB), there is an entitlement to paid time off if the doctor's visit is medically necessary at the time, for example in the case of acute complaints or if the doctor does not have an appointment offers outside working hours. Since there is normally no entitlement to paid time off with largely flexible working hours, flexible working hours in this sense lead to longer working hours for employees.

For the employee, flexible working hours mean, conversely, that private appointments such as visits to the authorities, visits to craftsmen or even appointments in connection with school can be kept without having to use a day of vacation, for example. However, the flexibility of working hours, especially part-time work, is unevenly divided between the sexes. Today women in Germany take up part-time work much more often.

With regard to the flexibilization of working hours, the Working Hours Act (ArbZG) has opened up significant leeway since 1994 compared to the previous Working Hours Regulations (AZO). The aim of § 1 ArbZG is namely not only "to guarantee the safety and health protection of employees in the organization of working hours", but also "to improve the framework conditions for flexible working hours". In large companies, numerous solutions often exist side by side. Several hundred working hours and shift models can be found there.

Flexibility solutions

Change in the timing of working hours

The following working time models may result in a change in the volume of working hours, but are primarily aimed at adjusting the timing of the working hours, whereby the entire working time volume of the employee can remain largely unaffected in the medium or long term:

  • Shift work : working hours with staggered positions and different or the same duration.
  • Flexitime : The location and duration of daily working hours can be freely selected within the regulated framework. A core time can determine the required attendance time.
  • On-call work : A certain position of the working time is not determined, usually also no certain number of the working hours to be performed, but only the amount of the salary per hour. The employee is available at short notice. German labor courts quickly rejected this variant and the German legislature regulated it in Section 12 Part-Time and Temporary Employment Act (TzBfG) insofar as the employee does not need to work if he is not informed of the working hours at least four days in advance. If no agreement has been made in the contract for a certain duration of the owed working time, a working time of 10 hours per week is deemed to have been agreed by law. The minimum work commitment per day is three consecutive hours, unless otherwise (even shorter) has been agreed. However, agreements such as “5 hours per week on an annual average” are also permitted.
  • KAPOVAZ : depending on capacity, short-term changing working hours. The term was coined in the context of flexibilization from rigid working time systems. In contrast to the on-call work, a fixed number of hours in a period and an associated even remuneration were assumed. Today, KAPOVAZ and on-demand work are mostly used synonymously .
  • Amorphous (shapeless) Working or variable flexitime: The working time volume is set, location and duration of working time can be freely selected by the employee and are not controlled by the Company.
  • Trust-based working hours: In contrast to amorphous working hours, the volume of work is determined; the working hours in terms of location and duration can be selected by the employee in coordination. This is an attempt to avoid time slips.
  • Self-determined working hours: individual working hours with a given volume of work, for example when working from home or teleworking . Subject to the Home Work Act .
  • Working time account: agreed form of recording and accounting for worked and owed working times per employee for defined compensation periods.
  • Bandwidth model: The permitted weekly working hours are adhered to over a certain, longer period of time, but in individual weeks work is longer (without entitlement to overtime pay) or even shorter depending on the requirements of the company. If the period is extended to a whole year, one speaks of annual working time models .

Change of volume of work

The following working time models primarily include a reduction or increase in the employee's working hours:

  • Part-time work : The regular working time is shorter than with comparable full-time employment. Part-time employment averaged 20.0 hours per week in 2018. New working time models reduce the volume of working hours, even with full wages.
  • Minor employment : special case of part-time work under social security law, which is characterized by the fact that the regular monthly wage does not exceed 450.00 euros and is due to the fact that social security is exempt ( § 8 SGB ​​IV ).
  • Overtime (so-called overtime ): working hours realized beyond the normal working hours. Is subject to co-determination according to § 87 Paragraph 1 No. 3 BetrVG.
  • Job sharing: Distribution of normal working hours between two or more people who share the work-sharing use of workplaces.
  • Partial retirement : Graduated, periodic reduction in individual working hours as “slipping” into retirement. The associated legal basis will expire in 2009 and is under discussion.
  • flexible unpaid special leave (e.g. the “full-time select” model with up to 20 unpaid additional leave days per year with the approval of the supervisor).

Group-related or combined models

The following models and instruments can serve both to shift the time situation and to change the workload of the employee. They are partly based on agreements within the members of a working group:

  • Modular system : Individual employees or groups can put together their time models individually. Daily, weekly, monthly or annual models are possible.
  • Working time group: Group of employees for whom the same working time model applies, which may differ from that for other employees in the same company.
  • Productive time: Regulation that is used in group work or target agreements and is determined as the quotient of target time to actual time. If this quotient is greater than 1, the group productivity does not correspond to the objective. If there is not enough work available for all group members, the group itself regulates how to proceed in order to still meet the goal of productive time.
  • Sabbatical : Term for the granting of related, mostly longer-term leisure phases, for example to compensate for time credits or as unpaid leave from work.

See also


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Labor market reforms hardly contributed , press release by the Institute for Macroeconomics and Business Cycle Research (IMK) and the Institute for Economic and Social Sciences (WSI), November 2, 2010
  2. Margret Mönig-Raane: Who Owns the Time? Coordinates of a different time distribution. (PDF) (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on January 7, 2010 ; Retrieved February 16, 2008 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. P. 2 ( Memento of the original from January 7, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /arbeitszeit.verdi.de  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /arbeitszeit.verdi.de
  3. Grap, Rolf (ed.): Business management for engineers: assess - decide - shape. Munich: Hanser, 2007 - ISBN 978-3-446-41256-9 . P. 153.
  4. Federal Statistical Office: Press release No. 020 of January 16, 2020. Accessed on February 23, 2020 .
  5. HAG Home Work Act (PDF; 65 kB)
  6. Federal Statistical Office: Press Release No. 020 of January 16, 2020. Accessed on February 18, 2020 .
  7. Franca Quecke: "We don't work on Fridays". Der Spiegel, February 16, 2020, accessed on February 18, 2020 .
  8. Rose & Partner: Four-day week with full salary in the commercial law firm. April 23, 2019, accessed February 18, 2020 .
  9. ↑ Part-time work for older workers , the partial retirement collective agreements based on the Part-Time Early Workers Act are usually also limited to the period of validity of the Part-Time Workers Act
  10. Health: Older means more experienced. Active online, July 25, 2008, accessed July 15, 2014 .