Workers need to unplug, survey finds

The line between work and leisure time is becoming increasingly blurred, with the overwhelming majority of German employees now reachable by mobile phone and email outside of normal work hours, a survey has found.

Workers need to unplug, survey finds
Photo: DPA

Some 84 percent of employees in Germany can be contacted by colleagues, customers and bosses outside their work time, the poll published Thursday by health insurer BKK found.

Half are actually on “stand-by” in their leisure time, the poll of 2,322 workers aged 18 to 65 found.

The study also found that nearly half of workers in Germany have no normal, five-day working week, but rather work frequently on weekends and public holidays, at nights or simply when they are called on to do so.

Every second employee surveyed reported sleeping problems both on work days and days off. Thirteen percent suffered sleep problems almost every night, most often because of general stress, closely followed by stress related to being overburdened, in which private worries such as family problems “cannot be separated from work.”

About one in seven cited the stress of being constantly reachable because of work demands.

“The fact that half of employees have sleep problems and therefore do not feel rested is a matter of concern to us,” said BKK boss Heinz Kaltenbach said.

“Constant fatigue can be a sign of emotional ‘burnout.’ Our health report shows that in the last five years the number of sick days that according to medical data can be traced back to so called ‘burnout syndrome’ has increased ten-fold.”

Sleep shortage is most likely to be suffered by people who work more than 50 hours a week, the survey found. They sleep on average 6.5 hours a night. One in three of these people works regularly on Sundays and holidays.

These people are often self-employed or in managerial positions and generally have household net incomes of at least €2,500 per month.

Of all the workers surveyed, more than half slept at least seven hours a night. One in four slept eight or more hours.

One in five surveyed said they would check their emails or SMS for work purposes shortly before they went to sleep.

Kaltenbach said workers should “assess whether it is really necessary to be reachable all the time.”

DAPD/The Local

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Colds and flu: What to do and say if you get sick in Germany

It’s that time of year again when many of us will be coughing and blowing our noses. If you're feeling a bit under the weather, here are the German words you'll need and some tips on what to do.

Colds and flu: What to do and say if you get sick in Germany

Corona – In German, Covid is most commonly called Corona. Self-isolation and quarantine (Quarantänepflicht) rules currently vary from state to state, but if you test positive for Covid, you’ll generally have to isolate for a minimum of five days and a maximum of 10. 

READ ALSO: Germany to bring in new Covid rules ahead of ‘difficult’ winter

Eine Erkältung – this is the German term for a common cold. You can tell people “I have a cold” by saying either saying: ich habe eine Erkältung or ich bin erkältet.

A cold usually involves eine laufende Nase – a runny nose – so make sure you have a good supply of Taschentücher (pocket tissues) at home.

If you have a verstopfte Nase (blocked nose) you can buy a simple nasal spray (Nasenspray) from your local drugstore. 

But in Germany, because only pharmacies are able to sell medicines, you will need to pay a visit to die Apotheke if you want to get anything stronger.

READ ALSO: Why are medicines in Germany only available in pharmacies?

At the pharmacy, the pharmacist will usually need you to describe your symptoms, by asking you: Welche Symptome haben Sie?

A woman with a cold visits a pharmacy.

A woman with a cold visits a pharmacy. Photo: pa/obs/BPI | Shutterstock / Nestor Rizhniak

If it’s a cold you’re suffering from, you may have Halsschmerzen or Halsweh (sore throat), Kopfschmerzen (headache) or Husten (cough).

For a sore throat, you might be given Halstabletten or Halsbonbon (throat lozenges).

If you’re buying cough medicine you will probably be asked if you have a dry, chesty cough – Reizhusten – or if it is a produktiver Husten (wet, productive cough).

If you have one of these you may need some Hustensaft or Hustensirup (cough medicine). If you have a headache, you may also want to pick up a packet of Ibuprofen.

While selecting your Medikamente (medication), the pharmacist might ask you a couple of questions, such as:

Sind Sie mit diesen Medikamenten vertraut?

Are you familiar with this medication?

Haben Sie irgendwelche Unverträglichkeiten?

Do you have any intolerances?

They will also tell you about any Nebenwirkungen (side effects) the medicine could have.

Die Grippe – if you’ve struck down with a more serious illness, it’s likely to be die Grippe – the flu.

Flu symptoms usually include Fieber (fever), Schüttelfrost (chills), Gliederschmerzen (muscle aches), Schmerzen (aches) and Appetitlosigkeit (loss of appetite). While both Erkältungen and Grippe are very ansteckend (contagious), flu is usually more debilitating and might require a visit to the doctor.

However, as the pandemic is still with us, many German doctors’ surgeries (Arztpraxen) still ask patients to stay away or come in during special hours if they have cold or flu symptoms. 

But if you need a sick note (eine AU-Bescheinigung) and are suffering from mild respiratory diseases, you can get this over the phone, until at least November 30th, 2022.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

If you are really unwell, however, you will need to go to the doctor at some point to get ein Rezept – a prescription. More serious cold and flu-related illnesses (Krankheiten) often involve Entzündungen (inflammations), which are often schmerzhaft (painful) and cause Rötung (redness).

Common inflammations include Nebenhöhlenentzündung (sinusitis), Bronchitis (bronchitis) and Mandelentzündung (tonsillitis).