Fewer German workers are doing excessive overtime, Destatis reveals

Fewer German workers are doing excessive overtime, Destatis reveals

Figures recently released by the Federal Statistical Office have revealed that full-time workers in Germany are logging fewer excessive overtime hours than during any period before 1991. They also found that freelancers in the federal republic are working more than everyone else.

Fewer workers in Germany are logging overtime

According to new figures from Destatis, workers in Germany are now more likely to “just” work full-time rather than record excessive working hours of 48 hours per week or more.

In 2022, out of the 30 million people that made up Germany's full-time workforce, only 8,3 percent of people said that they regularly worked 48 hours rather than being limited to the standard full-time work week of 40 hours.

The figures are slightly down from 2021, when 8,9 percent of workers said they recorded such hours, but are also at their lowest level since 1991.

Freelancers are working longer hours in Germany

Interestingly, though the traditional full-time working week in Germany is 40 hours, on average full-time workers in 2022 logged 40,4 hours per week, meaning doing a little overtime was quite common.

According to the Working Hours Act, employers in Germany can only ask their employees to work a maximum of eight hours per day - with 10-hour days being possible but only on specific days rather than as a rule. When it comes to self-employed people and freelancers, however, working significantly longer weeks is much more common. 

Self-employed workers and freelancers are not covered by the Working Hours Act and often have to work more to make the same monthly income as a contracted worker. According to the recent Destatis figures, more than a third of freelancers (38,6 percent) worked excessive hours in 2022. Among self-employed people who had their own employees, 48,2 percent said they worked such hours.

When will Germany adopt the four-day week?

Though it has been adopted in some small workplaces, Germany is yet to see any kind of widespread move to the four-day week with full pay, and a recent survey by the forsa polling institute found that 55 percent of workers in the country believe cutting down the working week is not a good idea.

IG Metall, Germany’s largest trade union, is one of the organisations calling for the country to make the switch to a shorter week, which has been proven to make workers more productive during work hours and increase staff health and wellbeing. 

2022 saw the world’s largest ever four-day week trial be conducted in the UK. Lasting for seven months and involving 2.900 workers at 61 companies across diverse sectors, the study was called a “resounding success” with 92 percent of participating companies deciding to continue with the policy once the trial was over.

Thumb image credit: frantic00 /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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