Working hours in Germany have not changed in the past 30 years

Working hours in Germany have not changed in the past 30 years

Germany’s Federal Statistical Office has revealed that full-time employees work around 41 hours a week, only 25 minutes less than in 1991, immediately after reunification.

Working hours in Germany

On Labour Day, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) revealed that full-time employees in Germany worked around 41 hours a week in 2019, only 25 minutes less than full-time employees immediately after reunification in 1991. Similarly, the proportion of people who work more than 48 hours a week has also stayed similar, only rising from 9,7 percent in 1991, to 10,3 percent in 2019. Of the people surveyed, managers and those who are self-employed usually recorded the longest working hours.

However, the average weekly working time for all employees in Germany fell by four hours in the 28 years between 1991 and 2019. This is largely due to an increase in part-time employees. The average time employees work per week in Germany is 34,8 hours and, in 2019, the average working hours of part-time employees was 19,5 hours a week.

Working outside of office hours

The number of people who also had to work outside of normal office hours has also increased. In 2019, almost one in every five employees also had to work regularly between the hours of 6 pm and 11 pm, five percent had to work regularly at night. Additionally, 24,1 percent of the people surveyed said they worked regularly on Saturdays, whilst 11,7 percent said they had to work on Sundays. "In the corona pandemic, the debate about the delimitation of work and private life has picked up speed," said Destatis. "Even before the outbreak of the pandemic, excessive working hours were not uncommon for employees in Germany."

Despite this, almost half of the population were able to organise their working hours either completely on their own accord (21 percent), or partially (28 percent). Germany’s current average weekly working time (34,8 hours) is significantly lower than the EU average of 37 hours.

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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