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Understaffing is present in the human resources management of the private sector and public administration if the number of existing jobs or permanent positions is higher than those actually occupied. The opposite is overstaffing .


The understaffing concerns only the staff and is a question of employment in companies or authorities . In the case of under- staffing , the existing staff capacity will not be reached by the actual number of staff ; in the case of over- staffing , it will be exceeded. The Duden defines understaffed as "provided with fewer workers than is necessary, necessary". Factors of personnel capacity are the existing, fully employable workforce and the working hours . The maximum possible work volume ( work performance ) with full employment results from the equation


A leading to understaffing staff reductions required to achieve the same volume of work, the increase in working hours or labor intensity of existing resources ( overtime or work intensification ). If this is not possible (due to a collective agreement or maximum working hours in accordance with Section 3 ArbZG ), the volume of work will decrease. In the service sector , understaffing can lead to queues .

Legal issues

The case law has dealt primarily with the understaffing of collegial bodies such as bodies , parliaments , parties , associations , boards of directors or apartment owners' assemblies. An understaffing meets their quorum . The board of directors is under-staffed if the number of board members falls below the minimum number specified in Section 76 (2 ) AktG or in the articles of association . If the management board of a stock corporation is understaffed, i.e. there are fewer management board members than the articles of association or the stipulation made on the basis of the articles of association by the general meeting or by the supervisory board , the supervisory board must immediately complete the management board again. According to this ruling, if a member of the board of directors leaves the two-person board, the remaining member may not perform tasks that only the board as a whole can perform; the sole board member is incapable of acting . For reasons of legal certainty , it is assumed that the duties of the board of directors are not only waived because of the fact that it is understaffed. For this purpose, the right of representation must be regulated according to the statutes . An understaffed supervisory board can, if necessary, be supplemented to the required number by the court in accordance with Section 104 (1) AktG.

If a works council is incapable of making a decision within the meaning of Section 33 (2) BetrVG because 50% of its members are unable to make a decision for the duration of the period in which it is expressed in accordance with Section 102 (2) BetrVG , the works council exercises its rights of co-determination in accordance with Section 22 BetrVG . Co-determination in accordance with Section 87 (1) No. 2 BetrVG when creating shift schedules protects the employees' interest in a meaningful distinction between working hours and the leisure time available for planning private life . On the other hand, it does not serve to protect against an increased workload , which is based on the fact that other employees scheduled for a specific weekly shift according to an annual shift plan are not present in the company and are therefore not available for the shift and the shift in question is understaffed.

Of great importance is the understaffing in the judiciary at trial formations . For example, in criminal proceedings, the objection that the criminal chamber is understaffed or overstaffed in violation of Section 76 (2) GVG must be asserted in accordance with Section 222b (1) StPO up to the start of the questioning of the first accused; an incorrect occupation of a criminal chamber with three professional judges can be attacked with the appeal .

economic aspects

The starting point is the position plan , which specifies a certain target strength for the staff:


According to this, it can usually be assumed that a workforce of <80% of the target workforce means understaffing. It can already be triggered by vacation and / or sick leave of many workers.

If the actual position is lower than 80%, there is understaffing. Not just temporary understaffing can be due to two causes. On the one hand, jobs for which a certain qualification is required could not be filled on the basis of existing external applications or by internal jumpers ( shortage of skilled workers ). On the other hand, it can be a measure deliberately planned by the company to bring about a cost reduction in personnel costs . This leads to an intensification of work for existing staff, whose work productivity increases due to increased work intensity. This intensification of work has the effect of overemployment for the employees concerned . If there is no possibility of flexibility , departments are often systematically understaffed.

Consequences for the employees

Any kind of understaffing is a deficiency in the organization of work . The growing work suffering due to higher work intensity, the associated overtime and excessive demands can lead to decreasing work motivation , time pressure , stress , absenteeism , faulty production with associated shortages and error costs or burnout among employees affected by understaffing because they are permanently exposed to a higher workload.

See also


Individual evidence

  1. Duden editorial office: Bibliographisches Institut (Ed.), Duden - The large dictionary of the German language , 1981, p. 2704
  2. Stefan Fruschki, protection against dismissal in privatizations , 2008, p 148
  3. BGH WM 2002, 179 , 180
  4. Michael Kort / Mathias Habersack / Klaus J. Hopt / Markus Roth (eds.), Großkommentar AktG , Volume 3, 2008, Section 76 Rn. 199
  5. ^ BAG, judgment of August 18, 1982, Az .: 7 AZR 437/80
  6. ^ BAG, judgment of May 28, 2002, Az .: 1 ABR 40/01
  7. BGH, decision of January 11, 2005, Az .: 3 StR 488/04 = NStZ 2005, 465
  8. Peter R. Preißler, Business Key Figures , 2008, p. 196
  9. Albrecht Deyhle / Klaus Eiselmayer / Guido Kleinhietpaß, Controller Praxis , 2016, p. 176