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BEERG Newsletter - Germany: Important ruling on overtime

Paula Wernecke of CMS-HS writes: With this week’s ruling by the German Federal Labor Court, employers can for now breathe a sigh of relief: it is the employee who bears the burden of proof regarding overtime Handelsblatt. In light new approaches to working, the German Working Time Act with its strict guidelines is proving to be a major hindrance and seems increasingly out of place: 

  • Bureaucracy: companies are already drowning in administrative work; recording working time properly and ensuring compliance with the legal requirements costs a lot of money and time
  • Work based on trust is an important factor for many employees; however, recording time undermines this trust by creating a sense of constant control
  • Meeting employees’ needs and expectations: the "9-to-5" time frame rarely meets employees’ wishes; instead, they want the flexibility to decide their working time as per their needs and personal circumstances
  • Instead of maximum daily working hours and fixed rest breaks, employees should decide what is best for them, when they feel motivated to work more than 8 hours and when they want to work less, and when it is a good time to take a long lunch break to resume later in the evening. Do the duties of employers have to go so far as to interfere with employees' self-determination?
  • Protecting employees’ health should be the top priority, but it is questionable whether a rigid framework for work is the right way or whether meeting employees’ needs is what the legal regulations should consider. The least German lawmakers can do is to use the flexibility provided for in the EU Working Time Directive.
  • Maximum weekly working hours, for example, are a step in the right direction

Published on: May 18, 2022

Topics: The UK and European Union

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