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Working on Sunday is not permitted in Germany

Mar 31, 21 • Employment LawNo Comments

For German employers it is often preferable that employees also work on Sundays. But is that legally permissible? The law in Germany intends to ban work on Sundays (and general public holidays) for the protection of workers as well as for the protection of the family.

The German Working Hours Act therefore prohibits employers from allowing their employees to work on Sundays and general public holidays. Sunday is considered the time on Sunday from 12:00 am to 12:00 am the following day.

Then working on Sundays is permitted in Germany

Only in exceptional cases is work allowed on Sundays. However, this presupposes that the work is also necessary on a Sunday, namely, it cannot be done on a working day. This is the case, for example, in hospitals as well as emergency and rescue services. However, exceptions can also be made in the fields of sport and culture.

However, it is important that at least 15 Sundays per year remain free for each employee. Furthermore, one day off must be granted in lieu of working on a Sunday within a two-week period.

Fines and imprisonment for prohibition

Overall, however, caution is advised when scheduling or agreeing to work on Sundays. Work on Sundays is only permitted if the legal requirements for a corresponding exemption are met.

It is essential to note that the prohibition is primarily directed at the employer. If the employer allows his employees to work on Sundays contrary to the law without a permissible exception, he faces a threat of severe fines of up to 30,000 euros or even imprisonment of up to one year, depending on the severity of the violation. It is possible that the employer obtains confirmation from an authority that a corresponding exception exists thus permitting work on Sundays. This circumvents the risk related to payment of fines as well as imprisonment.

We advise employers

WINHELLER will be happy to help you with any questions you may have in connection with the employment of workers on Sundays in Germany.

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Ellen Pusch

Ellen Pusch specializes in employment law and inheritance law at our Munich office. She drafts and optimizes employment agreements as well as specific types of termination agreements and assists with restructuring projects and M&A transactions (transfers of undertakings).

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