Core Working Hours

Core working hours play a crucial role in the context of flextime models in an employee's work life. This article explains how flextime works and what to expect in terms of advantages and disadvantages for both employees and employers.


Definition of Core Working Hours

The term "core working hours" refers to a specific period, typically stipulated in an employment contract, during which employees are required to be present at their workplace. It is designed to ensure the simultaneous presence of all employees during this designated time in workplaces with flextime arrangements. The time frame of core working hours is always shorter than the total daily working hours of employees.

The company's defined core working hours should be communicated already during the onboarding process — the process of integrating a new employee into the workplace. Little side note: the opposite process would be referred to as offboarding, which handles an employee's exit from the company.

The Idea of Core Working Hours

The purpose of establishing core working hours is to ensure that employees are present at specific times. Fixed daily working hours could have the same effect, but the flextime model offers employees greater flexibility in managing their work-life balance.

For employers, core working hours allow to manage peak hours effectively and may discourage telecommuting during these hours. Ultimately, flextime and core working hours contribute to higher employee satisfaction, which benefits employers as well.

Core Working Hours Regulation

German labor law does not provide a legal regulation for core working hours in terms of duration. Therefore, the decision-making authority regarding core working hours rests with the employer or works council. Typically, core working hours are defined in a work contract or operational instructions.

One thing is clear: Core working hours cannot account for the entire working hours per day. Before and after the core hours, there is usually a flextime arrangement. Typically, core working hours last a maximum of six hours, allowing one hour of flextime before and after.

...for Part-Time Employees

The regulation of core working hours for part-time employees depends on the specific time distribution of their workdays. For example, an employee who works a total of 16 hours per week and works eight hours on two days has the same core working hours as full-time colleagues.

However, if the part-time employee's work hours are spread over more workdays (for example, four hours on four days per week), employers and employees should consider an individual agreement for core working hours. This could mean that the employee must adhere to specific core working hours just for them or that the employee can leave the workplace after completing their work, even during the ongoing core working hours.

Since many part-time employees choose this work schedule due to having children or other responsibilities aside of work, which should be taken into consideration by the company when determining the respective core working hours.

...during Short-Time Work

According to the Federal Employment Agency, special rules apply to employees with flextime accounts during short-time work. Only working time credits exceeding 10 percent of the annual working time are protected. Employees are required to use the rest of the credit to avoid short-time work.

Working time credits that remained unchanged for more than one year before the application for short-time work are also protected. However, this protection only applies to the lowest level of working time credit, considering fluctuations. For instance, if an employee's working time credits fluctuated between 60 and 120 hours in the year before applying for short-time work, the employee must use 60 of those hours to avoid short-time work. Home Office

Core working hours also apply to employees who work from home or remotely. Whether via phone, email, or messenger services, these employees must be available and responsive during the designated core working hours.

Time Tracking for Core Working Hours

According to the latest ruling by the Federal Labor Court, employers are required to track employees' working hours. This applies to all working time models, including core working hours. Experts suggest that this will particularly impact trust-based working time models. Specifically, it is important to note that core working hours combined with trust-based working time models may be affected. For example, some employers may set core working hours from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm but allow employees to independently decide whether to start work earlier or finish later within that daily working time. It is assumed that these core working hour models will also be impacted by this ruling.

Digitalized Tracking of Core Working Hours

An HR software with digital time tracking can be highly beneficial, as it allows for automatic recording of working hours, ensuring accurate and reliable payroll processing. It simplifies processes for all parties by allowing the submission of overtime or leave requests directly through the platform. An HR software can also be valuable for other processes, such as the digitization of tax certificates, making the distribution and management of documents more efficient and time-saving.


We would like to point out that our website provides non-binding information, which under no circumstances constitutes legal advice. This also, and especially, applies to topics within the sphere of legal HR advise. The content of this contribution cannot and is not intended to replace individual and binding legal advice. For this reason, all information provided is without guarantee of correctness and completeness, but always researched with the utmost care.

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