• Germany's news in English
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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd