Even in times of a pandemic, what is stipulated in the employment contract still applies. However, many companies apparently believe that working time accounts and overtime are a good instrument for shifting some of the entrepreneurial risks to the employees. In some companies overtime is ordered, in others lost working time is counted towards overtime.
1. Can the employer unilaterally order overtime??
employees are in principle obliged to work overtime only if it results from a collective agreement, a company agreement or the employment contract.
Exceptionally, however, an employee may be required to work overtime at the employer’s request if this avoids a threat of harm to the employer that cannot be averted in any other way. Such a situation could occur if employees are unable to maintain operations with normal work hours because too many colleagues are out due to the Corona virus, because they are already sick with Covid 19, or because they are in quarantine.
2. Am I entitled to extra pay for overtime worked??
You are only entitled to overtime pay if there is an agreement to this effect or if it is regulated in a collective agreement. If this does not exist, you are only entitled to your basic remuneration according to the law.
3. In my company there is no longer enough work for everyone because of Corona. Can my employer ask me to reduce overtime??
As a rule, it may, unless otherwise regulated by a collective agreement or a works agreement. If the employer wants to introduce short-time work in the company, overtime and time credits in working time accounts must be reduced as a matter of priority.
However, the legislator has made this provision less strict for the period of the Corona crisis.
4. Is there a change in the legal regulations on working hours because of Corona??
In the March 2020 Corona Crisis Social Protection Package, the legislature introduced a fourth paragraph in Section 14 of the Working Hours Act, which authorizes the Federal Ministry of Labor, in consultation with the Federal Minister of Health, to override the Working Hours Act for certain employment groups by statutory order.
5. Has the Federal Ministry of Labor issued a regulation on working time due to the pandemic?
With the Covid19 working time ordinance of 7. April 2020, the Federal Minister of Labor has now made use of his authorization for the first time., partially override the provisions of the Working Hours Act.
Until the 30. June 2020, exceptions to the regulations of the Working Hours Act will be permitted.
6. Does the Covid19- Working Hours Ordinance affect my employment contract or collective bargaining agreement??
The provision does not contain any general authorization to declare collective agreements invalid or to override them. The same applies to agreements in employment contracts.
The working hours regulated here continue to apply. No employer can order you to work twelve hours on a regular basis on the basis of this regulation. Even after the Corona Working Time Ordinance has come into force, they owe the working time that the employer has agreed with them in the employment contract or that applies to their employment by virtue of the collective agreement.
By § 14 para. 4 ArbZG, the Federal Minister of Labor is only authorized to allow exceptions that go beyond the exceptions provided for in the law and in the statutory orders issued on the basis of this law and in collective agreements.
The ordinance thus only allows the parties to the employment contract and the collective bargaining partners, in the current exceptional case up to 30. June 2020 to agree on longer working hours and shorter rest periods.
7. For which employees or. industries, longer working hours and shorter rest periods can be agreed in accordance with the Covid19- Working Hours Ordinance?
The exceptions to the Working Hours Act apply only to certain activities that are necessary because of the spread of the coronavirus and only for the period of the pandemic. The Covid19 Working Time Ordinance only permits exceptions with regard to working time and rest periods up to 30 hours. June 2020.
8. How does the Covid19- working time regulation affect the daily working time allowed?
Normally, under the Working Hours Act, you are only allowed to work eight hours a day. You may exceptionally work up to ten hours a day if you do not work more than eight hours a day on average within half a year.
Your workday hours may be extended up to twelve hours under the ordinance if you are a "systemically important" employee. This only applies insofar as the extension cannot be avoided through foresighted organizational measures. These measures also include personnel management dispositions, i.e. the hiring of new workers.
As is standard under the Working Hours Act, you must compensate to eight hours per workday (48 hours per week) within six months.
9. How does the Covid19 working time regulation affect the permissible weekly working time?
If your employer uses you for up to 12 hours a day, your work hours may not exceed 60 hours a week. Only in urgent exceptional cases, the weekly working time may be extended beyond 60 hours, if this cannot be avoided by foresighted organizational measures. These measures also include personnel management dispositions, i.e., the hiring of new workers.
10. How does the Covid19 working time regulation affect the rest period?
Normally, the minimum rest period between two work shifts is eleven hours. This time can be reduced by one hour in some occupations, such as hospitals and restaurants. The reduction must then be compensated within four weeks by extending another rest period to at least twelve hours.
Under the Covid19 Working Time Ordinance, the daily rest period may be reduced by up to two hours, although the minimum rest period must not be less than nine hours. Any reduction in the rest period must be compensated for within four weeks. If possible, the compensation must be granted in the form of days off, otherwise by extending other rest periods to at least 13 hours in each case.
11. Is my employer allowed to employ me on Sundays and holidays under the Covid19- Working Hours Ordinance?
You may also be employed on Sundays and holidays under the Covid19- Working Hours Ordinance, provided the work cannot be done on workdays. The employer must then grant you an alternative rest day.
The substitute rest day for Sunday employment can be granted within eight weeks and must be granted no later than the expiration of the ordinance on July 31, 2020. July 2020 at the latest.