• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
JobTalk Germany
Is overtime robbing Germans of family, friends and rest?
Working deep into the night - but is it healthy? File photo: DPA

Is overtime robbing Germans of family, friends and rest?

DPA/The Local · 15 Feb 2016, 15:11

Published: 15 Feb 2016 15:11 GMT+01:00

According to the DGB, around half of those working more than 48 hours per week are suffering from overwork.

And men are more likely to work overtime than women, with 37 percent of men reporting weeks longer than 45 hours compared to 24 percent of women.

"The numbers from the study lead us to suspect [that overtime is] a mass phenomenon," said labour market expert Holger Schäfer of the Institute for the German Economy (IW) in Cologne.

Schäfer noted, though, that overtime was only truly widespread in a small number of fields, especially those most vulnerable to competition – such as industrial businesses.

Financial or social services workers, by contrast, were much less likely to work overtime´, Schäfer said.

"If you end up with a lot of overtime [in these sectors] it's much more likely down to bad human resources planning," he added.

That was borne out in the DGB study, which found that transport and logistics workers were the most likely to work overtime, with 54 percent of workers reporting it – compared to just 23 percent of finance and insurance workers.

Most workers not overwhelmed

Expert Enzo Weber of the Institute for Labour Market and Career Research (IAB) notes that in 2014, the average employee worked 46.7 hours of overtime – or around one hour extra per week.

That figure has remained relatively stable since German reunification in 1990, Weber said, noting that "in calmer times, employees scale back their overtime".

What's more, Weber added, "there are employees who are happy to take home the financial boost" from paid overtime – which accounted for just a little less than unpaid overtime in 2014.

Employees might work extra hours unpaid because of their employer's expectations – or because of their own drive to perform better.

Pushing back boundary of private life?

But the DGB sees things differently.

"Many employees don't willingly work above and beyond 45 hours a week," DGB board member Annelie Buntenbach said.

And those employees who work longer hours are also more likely to bring work home than those who work 44 hours or fewer – leaving less and less time for them to rest and recover.

Laptops and smartphones have helped work infiltrate home life and free time. Photo: DPA

In the DGB study, 57 percent of those working more than 45 hours a week said they often didn't have enough time for family and friends – more than twice the figure for those working 35-44 hours.

"A work structure that supports health must include the possibilities of bodily and mental regeneration," the DGB argued in its paper.

"Over-long working hours are quite obviously a factor that seriously undermines the chance to recover... the limitation of 'work without end' is a central challenge for creating humane working conditions."

Most dedicated don't care

Story continues below…

Researcher Weber agrees that "the clear division between job and private life is being weakened," leaving the possibility for some people's lives to be totally dominated by work.

"One employee might be happy to be sat at his computer in the late evening, while another feels extremely stressed out by it," he said.

What's more, higher-qualified workers are much more likely to have a fluid division between work and free time, with work becoming an integral part of the professional's lifestyle.

High-ranking employees in leadership positions were much more likely than their subordinates to do overtime, with almost one-eighth – 12 percent – working more than 55 hours per week.

"[Some] people like their jobs and are simply happy to do them," Weber said – making the assessment of overwork a totally subjective one.

In the end, it's a question of treating workers on a case-by-case basis. "Overtime can become a problem, but it doesn't have to," he concluded.

Is there a topic you'd like us to cover in JobTalk? Get in touch at the email address below!

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Today's headlines
Finally, west Germans are the ones trying to get into the east
Dresden is experiencing a population boom. Photo: DPA

A quarter century after the fall of the Berlin wall people are moving from west Germany to the former east in greater numbers than vice versa.

Don't adopt Armenia genocide bill, Turkey warns Berlin
A memorial to the Armenian genocide in Yerevan, Armenia. Photo: DPA

German politicians will vote on Thursday on a resolution to recognize the Armenian genocide. Ankara has threatened consequences.

Puzzled cops pull pair of legs out of bin for second time
Photo: Polizei Bremen

When police in Bremen found a pair of legs sticking out of a recycling bin, the body attached to them gave the same implausible explanation he had done four months earlier.

Confused Spaniard to blame for alarm at Cologne airport
Police search Terminal 1 at Cologne airport with the help of a dog on Monday. Photo: DPA

A man has been arrested at Cologne-Bonn airport after a security alert forced police to evacuate all passengers.

North and east Germany next to face fierce storms
A storm in Brandenburg in 2015. Photo: DPA

The German Weather Service (DWD) has issued a weather warning for the north and east of the country, after the west and south took a battering over the weekend.

Granny, 91, walks away after falling under express train
Photo: DPA

An old lady had a miraculous escape in northern Germany when she was run over by a train travelling at 160 km/h. She only suffered light injuries.

Opinion
Battle over Boateng unmasks the racism of the AfD
Jerome Boateng wearing the stand-in captain's armband at a Sunday friendly against Slovakia. Photo: DPA

Berlin-based journalist Musa Okwonga argues that the row over national footballer Jerome Boateng shows the AfD is a racist party - not the defenders of European culture they claim to be.

Three dead as floods wreak havoc in southern Germany
The aftermath in the town of Braunsbach. Photo: DPA

At least three people have lost their lives as extreme weather, including flash floods, hail storms and lightning storms wreaked havoc in southern Germany on Sunday evening.

German populist party in race row over Boateng remarks
Boateng, who has a Ghanaian father, was born and brought up in Berlin. Photo: DPA

A leading member of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party sparked outrage Sunday after making racist remarks about national football team defender Jerome Boateng.

Dozens hit by lightning strike in west Germany
Witnesses to the lightning strike said it came out of the blue. Photo: DPA

35 people were injured in the west German village of Hoppstädten when lightning struck the pitch at the end of a children's football match.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
National
The future belongs to these 10 German regions
Society
Pegida enraged by black children on chocolate bars
Health
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
National
Bayer's Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
Lifestyle
10 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
Politics
MP recites explicit Erdogan bestiality poem on live TV
National
China beats Germany in readiness to help refugees
Hamburg
The headless sex doll that put Lübeck police on high alert
National
Pensioner claims to have found hidden Nazi nukes
Business & Money
Here's why Munich is worth 20 times more than Berlin
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that will stay with you forever
Technology
Church plans to connect with faithful at Wi-Fi 'Godspots'
Technology
Online hate speech can cost users thousands of Euros
Society
Bavarians in rush for non-lethal weapons licenses
Sport
Here's Germany's Mannschaft for Euro 2016
Culture
The Syrian pianist playing his way into Germans' hearts
The parrot who flew fast enough to trigger a speed camera
Technology
New law could let free Wi-Fi bloom across Germany
Politics
Berlin's plans to beef up the German army
Sport
Lufthansa's Euro 2016 ad takes aim at England
5,853
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd