Maximum working hours: this applies according to the working hours act

The purpose of the Working Hours Act (ArbZG) is to protect the safety and health as well as the rest of workers (§ 1 ArbZG). In our blog post Breaks for employees: What applies under the Working Hours Act, we have already looked at the regulations on rest breaks under the Working Hours Act. In this article, we highlight for you the maximum number of hours an employee may work per week and when the law allows for deviations.


Basic maximum working time: 8-hour day on working days

Working time within the meaning of the Working Hours Act is defined in accordance with. § 2 para. 1 ArbZG the time from the beginning to the end of work without rest breaks. Gem. § 3 S. 1 ArbZG, the working day may not exceed 8 hours. Working days within the meaning of the Working Hours Act are the days from Monday to Saturday (cf. § Section 9 para. 1 ArbZG). Thus, the law basically assumes a 48-hour working week. Gem. § 3 S. 2 ArbZG the working time can be extended to a maximum of 10 hours, if within six calendar months or within 24 weeks on average 8 hours are not exceeded.

Consequences of a violation of the Working Hours Act

Violation of the maximum working hours constitutes a misdemeanor i. S. d. § 22 Abs. 1 no. 1 ArbZG dar. The fine catalog of the Lander Committee for Occupational Safety and Health provides for a fine of 80 euros per employee for an infringement of up to one hour and a fine of 100 euros per additional half hour or part thereof if the infringement exceeds more than one hour (Lfd. No. 101). If an employee is endangered by the violation or if the violation is persistently repeated, the employer faces a custodial sentence of up to one year or a fine.

Works council’s right of co-determination regarding maximum working hours

The distribution of the permissible standard working time over the day and the week is subject to the provisions of the German Working Time Act. § 87 Abs. 1 no. 2 Works Constitution Act (BetrVG) of the co-determination of the works council.

Deviation from maximum working hours is permissible by way of exception

Only in exceptional cases under the conditions of § 7 ArbZG can deviations be made from the statutory regulations on the basis of collective agreements or works and service agreements. The parties may

a maximum daily working time of more than 10 hours if the working time regularly and to a considerable extent includes standby duty or on-call duty,

an extension of the compensation period from 24 weeks to a maximum of one year,

a determination of the working time to 10 hours, if the employee has previously consented in writing and there is no danger to health,

According to. § 14 ArbZG, the employer may temporarily deviate from § 3 ArbZG in emergency and exceptional cases. This includes, in particular, cases of force majeure such as earthquakes, floods or storms. In addition, regulations deviating from the Working Hours Act pursuant to. § 15 ArbZG must be approved by the responsible supervisory authority.

Special regulations for certain groups of employees

For certain groups of employees, the legislator has made special provisions regarding the maximum permissible working time:

The Youth Employment Protection Act, which applies to the employment of persons under 18 years of age, limits the maximum permissible working time in principle to 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week (18 Abs. 2 ArbZG i. V. m. § 8 para. 1 JArbSchG). In principle, adolescents may not work more than 8 hours per day according to § 3 S ArbZG. § 16 para. 1 JArbSchG, employees may not be employed on Saturdays.

Further links

The Maternity Protection Act stipulates the prohibition of overtime for pregnant and nursing women (§ 4 MuSchG). Overtime is given, if the working time amounts to more than eight and a half hours daily or more than 90 hours in the double week. For women under the age of 18, overtime exists if the daily working time exceeds eight hours or 80 hours in a double week.

For drivers and co-drivers, European regulations contain special provisions regarding driving time, driving time breaks and rest periods.

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