Employees across Germany do a lot more overtime work than people in most fellow eurozone nations. Fresh government figures show that an alarming number of these extra hours remains completely unpaid.
Answering a question by the opposition Left party, the German government said the total number of unpaid extra hours in the country amounted to 493 million in 2016.
The figure was still alarmingly high despite a 70-million-hour drop from 2012 levels, the report showed.
Roughly 150 million hours of overtime work were done by women, the figures revealed. "Excessive overtime isn't good for anyone," Left party MP Jutta Krellmann told the mass-circulation daily Bild. "Some have to work until they collapse, while others have little or no work at all."
The Labor Ministry said the total number of extra hours in 2016 — paid or unpaid — was estimated to be 828 million.
EU statistics have frequently indicated that German employees put in the most overtime work among eurozone nations, adding that no country in the 19-member bloc has such a large discrepancy "between contractually agreed weekly working hours and actual weekly working hours."
The EU Commission noted that in principle extra working time can be a flexible tool for companies to absorb high demand. Some nations deal with demand fluctuations through hiring and firing.
But employing people short-term and quickly firing them again usually doesn't comply with Germany's corporate culture.
hg/jd (AFP, dpa)