The Working Hours Law (ArbZG) serves to protect the health and safety of employees. Here you will find answers to their questions


Legally prescribed rest periods for employees – The Working-Time-Law (ArbZG) mainly serves to protect employees and their health. For example, it ensures sufficient breaks for employees

Scope of the Working-Time-Law

The Working-Time-Law applies only to employees. According to § 2 para. 2 ArbZG, the following are covered by this term

  • Workers,
  • Salaried employees
  • Trainees

The law therefore only applies within an employment or training relationship.

Subject of Regulation

The content of the law is very diverse. First of all, it concerns the amount of daily working time and contains, for example, special regulations for rest periods or night work. In addition, the law stipulates that, in principle, employees have Sundays and public holidays off. At the same time, certain exceptions to the days and times off are laid down.

Daily Working Time

According to § 3 ArbZG, the daily working time must not exceed 8 hours. An extension to 10 hours is possible if the average over a period of 6 months is nevertheless eight hours. Therefore, overtime can also be realized without any problems if the employer complies with the limits of the law.

Weekly Working Time

Since Saturday is also considered a working day by law, this results in a maximum weekly working time of 48 hours. If ten hours per day are permitted as an exception, even a weekly working time of 60 hours is possible.

Working-Time-Law Overtime and Overtime

In addition to overtime, there is also so-called overtime. What is the difference between overtime and extra work? In the labor law sense, we talk about overtime when the statutory maximum working hours are exceeded.

In contrast, overtime is the exceeding of the applicable regular working hours. These are defined for the employee in a collective agreement, a company agreement or in the employment contract.

Working-Time-Law / Breaks

During working hours, certain rest breaks are prescribed in accordance with § 4 ArbZG. In the case of a daily working time of 6 hours, the break is at least 30 minutes. In the case of a daily working time of more than 9 hours, the break regulations provide for a break of at least 45 minutes.

Working-Time-Law / Rest Period

According to § 5 para. 1 ArbZG, a rest period of at least 11 hours is required after the daily working time. There are exceptions, for example, for hospitals or in agriculture.

Violations of the Working-Time-Law

If employers violate the regulations of the Act, they risk a fine of up to 30,000 euros in accordance with Section 22 (2) ArbZG. In the event of an intentional act and damage to the employee’s health, even a custodial sentence is possible. In accordance with Section 23 (2) ArbZG, this amounts to up to one year.

Working-Time-Law / Timekeeping

According to Section 16 (2) ArbZG, the employer is obliged to record overtime and other working time extensions. Read more about this in our blog article “When time recording becomes mandatory”.

Try the HRlab Time Tracking

HRlab records your working hours as required by online logging and/or in conveniently designed forms. Multi-level approval processes can be set up differently per organizational unit.


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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