More Germans working longer hours: Labor Ministry | News | DW | 02.09.2016
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More Germans working longer hours: Labor Ministry

The German Labor Ministry says the number of people working more than 48 hours per week has grown since 1995. And it said working hours were becoming more irregular as well.

The number of people in Germany working more than 48 hours per week grew by around 30 percent in the 20 years from 1995-2015, the Labor Ministry said in a parliamentary answer published on Friday.

The ministry told the parliamentary group of the Left party that 1.7 million people, or 4.8 percent of employees, regularly worked longer hours in 2015, as compared with 1.3 million in 1995.

Many Germans were not only working longer, but also on weekends, the ministry said, with the number of those with jobs involving Saturdays or Sundays rising from some 6 milllion to 8.8 million last year. In other words, one in four people now worked regularly or occasionally on the weekend, it said. The same figure applied to those working evenings on a regular or occasional basis.

Shift work on the up

One of the biggest changes over the 20-year period covered in the answer was with regard to shift work. According to the ministry figures, more than one in six people in Germany now works shifts, as compared with one in eight people 20 years ago. Nine percent of employees worked night shifts in 2015, an increase of some 1.4 percent over 1995.

However, in its answer, the ministry emphasized that the figures showed three-quarters of employees never or only occasionally having to work in the evening, and 90 percent never or only occasionally at night.

The Left party nonetheless warned against the trends indicated by the figures presented.

"More and more people are already working evenings, nights or on the weekend," the Left's social affairs expert, Jutta Krellmann, told the Passauer Neue Presse, accusing Federal Labor Minister Andrea Nahles of failing to put a stop to the spread of atypical working hours with their associated health risks.

She called on the German government to introduce effective anti-stress regulations and to reduce mandatory weekly working hours in order to "point the way forward."

Nahles has indicated a willingness to allow more flexible working hours, as demanded by many employers, provided that they are laid down in previous collective agreements.

tj/kms (AFP, dpa, KNA)

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