Working Hours

The Right to a Sabbatical

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany’s labor minister wants to give employees greater flexibility in structuring their working hours. But an analysis by Verdi, the public sector union, suggests this remains a distant goal.

  • Facts


    • Under proposed legislation introduced by the labor minister, employees would have a right to a sabbatical and play a stronger role in structuring their working hours.
    • One in three employees would like to change the scope and location of his or her working hours.
    • But such work models will be difficult to enforce in the service sector, where almost 20 percent of employees work more than 48 hours a week.
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Bundestag zum Haushalt 2017
Andrea Nahles, SPD labor minister, wants to help workers' have more control over their working lives. Source: DPA

At a conference on working hours in Berlin, Germany’s Social Democratic labor minister, Andrea Nahles, defended her controversial bill on limited part-time work, saying it was time for employers to broaden employees’ say in questions over work-life-balance.

Service sector workers see little room for change, however, and employer groups call the plans one-sided.

Ms. Nahles sees limited part-time work as a first step on the path to elective working hours for employees. She also wants to enshrine employees’ rights to discuss the duration and location of their working hours as part of the new law.

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