Shifts and nights replace nine-to-five for Germans

Germans are increasingly working nights and shifts, leaving the treasured nine-to-five work model behind while one in four work at weekends, figures from the government show.

Shifts and nights replace nine-to-five for Germans
Photo: DPA

More than two million people in the country said they worked either regularly or always at weekends, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Monday, citing figures released in response to a parliamentary question.

And the number of people working shifts rose from 4.8 million in 2001 to six million in 2011, the figures said. Most shift workers are to be found in the healthcare professions, engineering and sales, the paper said.

The physical and psychological risks of working irregular hours are well known, and were even noted by the government along with its release of the numbers showing an increase in those working so.

The number of people working nights reached a high of 3.3 million in 2001, a level which had not previously been seen since 2008. Between 2001 and 2004 the figure was around 2.5 million.

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Nearly two million people – 1.92 million – worked for more than 48 hours a week during 2011. In 2001 just 1.56 million people worked so long, representing a growth of 23 percent over the decade. Teachers, engineers and managers were the most likely to be staying late at their place of work.

Karl Brenke, job market expert at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin told the Süddeutsche Zeitung the growth of abnormal working times was down to a number of factors. Highly qualified managers were often expected to remain in the office long into the evenings, and to be available at weekends.

But shops were also open for longer, stretching the working day for workers, while competition among logistics firms has been leading to increased pressure for truck drivers to be available around the clock, he said.

Jutta Krellmann, spokeswoman for the leftwing party Linke, which submitted the written question, said the figures were alarming. “The psychological stress is a ticking time bomb in the working world and has to be stemmed,” she said.

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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).