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Working Time Reporting for Germany

Figures, data and facts for the regulation and organisation of working time

The organisation of working hours largely determines the allocation of time to recovery and private obligations. Due to changing requirements in the working world, the regulation and organisation of working time is at the centre of political, economic and societal discussions in Germany.

The organisation of working hours is one of the key issues of occupational health and safety. The main focus is on the duration and location of working hours and rest periods as well as on the predictability and controllability of personal working hours. The increasing flexibilisation of working time poses new questions, which must be answered in a fact-based and differentiated manner.

The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) provides a basis for this public discussion with the Working Time Survey 2015, a representative survey of some 20,000 employees in Germany. The data provide a differentiated view of the working time reality and therefore allow an assessment of the working time flexibility and its design. They were first published in the Working Time Report Germany 2016.

Advantages and disadvantages of flexible working hours

Flexible working hours characterise the work of many employees. It is true that 80 percent of the workforce usually work weekdays between 7 am and 7 pm. However, 43 per cent of the employees report to also work on weekends at least once a month. Due to regular on-call duty, eight per cent are also tied to their work outside their working time. Furthermore, 22 per cent claim that their work environment expects them to be available in private life for business purposes.

In fact, twelve percent of the workforce are often contacted outside working hours due to official business. At least 23 percent say they are sometimes contacted. This applies to managers more often than to non-executive employees. Moreover, permanent availability is not a primary phenomenon in large companies. Here the proportion of available employees is below the average.

Approximately four out of ten employees have a lot of control over when to begin and end their work (38%) or when to take a few hours off (44%). At the same time, more than one in seven employees often and one in four employees sometimes experience short-term changes in working hours due to operational issues. In addition, about seven percent of the workforce perform on-demand work.

This means that employees with high operational flexibility requirements, such as on-demand work, on-call duty or short-term changes in their working hours, tend to report a poorer health. They are more dissatisfied with their work-life balance than other employees. Conversely, it is shown that employees’ working time autonomy as well as the reliability and predictability of working time have a positive effect on health and work-life balance.

Differences between men and women

The study also shows that overtime is still relevant to many employees. For example, 17 percent of the employees work an average of 48 hours and more per week. One fifth of the workforce has early or late working hours or works in various shift systems. Both types of working time are associated with impairments of the work-life balance and a poorer health.

The data further confirm the large differences in the working time reality of men and women. While 42 percent of the women work part-time, this is only true for seven percent of the men. Most of the women state that this is due to personal or family commitments, while they have shorter working hours compared to men in all life situations.

We will keep continuing this working time reporting, with the next survey being conducted this year.