Is a 9 hour shift too long

Shift work: About working hours, shift allowances and health risks

While most workers are asleep in their beds at night, others are just beginning their day-to-day work. You afford shift work and must at changing or constantly at unusual times work. This type of work shift has become indispensable in many areas and industries.

Think e.g. B. only to the baker who at four in the morning pushes the rolls into the oven or to the Shift work in the hospitalwhere the staff takes care of the well-being and health of the patients day and night. In other establishments it is off purely economic reasons done in shifts.

In a nutshell: shift work

Are night workers entitled to a supplement?

Night workers have a statutory right to the payment of a night bonus or a reasonable number of days off. Regardless of this, a shift allowance can be agreed in the employment contract, collective bargaining agreement or works agreement.

What working hours are required for shift work?

In principle, the 8-hour day also applies to shift workers. However, under certain conditions this can be extended to ten hours. In special cases, the Working Hours Act also allows working hours that exceed these ten hours.

What other rights do night workers have?

Night shift workers can have an occupational medical examination free of charge. In special cases regulated by law, an employee can request the transfer to a daytime workstation if there are no urgent requirements of the company to the contrary.

Specific information on shift work:

Influence of shift work on health

What are the conceivable health consequences?

Diet in shift work

Find out here why shift work has a negative impact on nutrition.

For people on the shift, this work is associated with particular stress: Sleep disorders, heart, circulatory and stomach problems as well as a increased risk of accidents are only one side of the coin. Also Family, friends and leisure time suffer from shift work.

How do you decrease the Health risks despite shift work? Special legal regulations apply in relation to the Working hours in shifts? How is shift work regulated in labor law? Which financial benefits can this type of work entail? You can read all of that in this guide.

What is Shift Work: A Definition

There is no explicit legal definition of shift work. Nevertheless, from a labor law perspective, shift work is only spoken of when certain prerequisites are met: So must certain work tasks over a period of time attack, which goes significantly beyond the actual working hours of an employee.

For this reason this work must be performed by several employees in a specific, time-controlled order, and partly too outside of the usual working hours. It is therefore essential for shift work that not all employees work at the same time. Rather, some of the employees work while the other employees are off work at this time.

Shift work: also a question of money

For most of those affected, the greatest advantage of shift work may be felt in the wallet, the so-called bonuses and shift bonuses.

Shift surcharges

One Legal requirement there are surcharges only for night work: To Section 6 (5) ArbZG every shift worker is entitled to the hours he works at night

a reasonable number of paid days off


an appropriate surcharge on the gross wages due for this.

However, this only applies if there are no collective bargaining agreements.

After a Judgment of the Federal Labor Court (BAG) dated December 9th, 2015 (10 AZR 423/14) generally applies a night surcharge or time off compensation of 25% each as appropriate. In the case of permanent night shifts, it is 30%.

For these night surcharges applies Tax exemption up to a certain amount according to § 3b Income Tax Act (EStG).

Shift allowances

Shift allowances will be in addition to the base salary paid and are subject to tax and contributions. The amount of these allowances is in employment contract, in the Collective agreement or in one company agreement regulated.

The employer determines the shift work

The employer issues the order for shift work, whereby the works council has a right of co-determination. The right to regulate working hours is in place according to § 106 trade regulations (GewO) to the employer:

The employer can determine the content, place and time of work at its own discretion.

In many professions, willingness to work in shifts is a prerequisite. Nevertheless, strict laws apply to shift work, such as B. that Working Hours Act.

This law tries to find a balance between the interests of the employee and those of the employer: On the one hand, there is security and the Health protection for the employee. On the other hand, the law takes into account the need of companies to organize working hours flexibly and thus the competitiveness to increase. For this reason, there are deviations from the statutory regulations on working hours, minimum rest breaks and minimum rest periods. These deviating regulations are made in company agreements or the collective bargaining agreement.

Shift work: Applicable laws

Scope of the Working Hours Act

The Working Hours Act, however, finds Does not apply to executives, heads of service and personnel positions in the public service and chief physicians. Even if the employee with the person entrusted to him in a domestic community lives, this law does not apply (18 para. 1 ArbZG).

Shift work: age limit for young people?

For young people under the age of 18, this applies instead of the Working Hours Act Youth Labor Protection Act (§18 Abs. 2 ArbZG).

To protect minors, the Youth Labor Protection Act provides for shift work certain age and working time limits in front:

  • In principle, young people are only allowed to work between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Section 14 (1) JArbSch).
  • Exceptions and deviations from this, graded according to age, are regulated in the following paragraphs of § 14 JArbSchG.

Restriction of shift work during maternity leave

In addition to the Working Hours Act (ArbZG), the employer must also do this Maternity Protection Act (MuSchG).

Expectant and nursing mothers are subject to maternity protection. Night work between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. is for them in accordance with Section 8 (1) MuSchG generally not permitted.

Working hours in shift work: Basically only 8 hours (Section 6 (2) sentence 1 ArbZG)

This also applies to night workers Principle of the 8-hour day.

It should be noted here that only the actual working time falls within these eight hours, but not the breaks or the commute.

Night work is any work in which more than two hours are performed during the night (Section 2 (4) ArbZG).

The Night time lasts from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., in bakeries and pastry shops from 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. (Section 2 (3) ArbZG).

Night worker are employees who usually work night shifts in alternating shifts or who have to work night shifts on at least 48 days per calendar year (Section 2 (5) ArbZG).

Permissible deviations from the 8-hour rule

There are exceptions to every principle, including the 8-hour rule.

The night shift may according to Section 6 (2) sentence 2 ArbZG extended to ten hours become. However, this only applies if an average of only eight hours was worked on weekdays within a calendar month or within four weeks. This period of time is also called the compensation framework.

A number of provisions of the Working Hours Act allow the employer to deviate from this 8-10 hour rule and increase working hours:

  • On the Collective agreement the working time according to § 7 Abs. 1 Nr. 5 ArbZG extended beyond the ten hours on workdays become,

    if during working hours regularly and to a considerable extent Willingness to work or On-call service falls.

  • Also in emergencies and exceptional casesthat cannot be eliminated otherwise, more than ten hours may be worked according to Section 14 (1) ArbZG.
  • The responsible Supervisory authority can, according to § 15 ArbZG, allow 8 to 10 hours to be exceeded under certain conditions, e.g. B. if this is urgently necessary in the public interest.

Breaks and rest periods - what to watch out for when changing shifts

Each battery is used up once and the employee's energy reserves are also exhausted after a certain period of time. For this reason, labor law prescribes breaks, rest periods and rest periods.

Rest breaks (§ 4 ArbZG)

To more than six hours Work the employee has to do half-hour break to take. However, it is also possible for the employee to pause twice for a quarter of an hour each time. However, a break must be taken after six hours at the latest.

Does the employee work more than nine hours a day, he has a break of at least 45 minutes to.

Because the break is not part of working hours, the employee must be released from all work during this time.

A deviation Section 7, Paragraph 1, No. 3 of the ArbZG provides for this break regulation for transport and catering companies before: Here the break can be divided into "short breaks of reasonable duration". According to general opinion, however, these breaks are considered working hours that are to be remunerated accordingly. In this case, the works council can only demand unpaid breaks.

Rest periods (Section 5 (1) ArbZG)

The so-called rest periods must be distinguished from the rest breaks. After the employee has finished his work, he is entitled to an uninterrupted rest period of at least 11 hours.

Especially with Shift change does this play a major role: If the shift worker z. B. comes from the late shift at 8 p.m. and is supposed to go to the early shift at 6 a.m. the next morning, this minimum rest time is not observed.

Even with the rest periods The principle can be deviated from by means of a collective agreement. According to § 7 Abs. 1 Nr. 3 ArbZG the rest period shortened to a maximum of nine hours become. However, this reduction must be offset within a compensation period, which must also be specified in the collective agreement.

Shift work: typical models

With shift work, the hours employees have to work vary greatly. The range of shift work models is almost unmanageable and ranges from Two-shift systems above 3-shift work up to even four layers. Depending on how the shift work is organized, one speaks of continuous shift work with night and weekend services or from discontinuous shift workwhich is only performed on weekdays and without night work.

Companieswho lack the appropriate professional competence for this, can get advice on ergonomic shift planning. Advice on working time models in shift work is also recommended, because the advantages and disadvantages of these can hardly be overlooked and often contradict ergonomic recommendations.

Regardless of whether people work fully continuously in shifts or another shift model applies - these types of work are always beneficial for the employees health and social burdens with himself. A health-compatible shift plan design can not eliminate all impairments. Still she is important to minimize stress and health hazards for employees.

Fully continuous shift work

This model ensures a 7 days a week around the clock. There is often a 3-shift system with early, late and night shifts. Sometimes there is also a day shift.

Example of fully continuous shift work


Semi-continuous shift work

Semi-continuous shift work can be designed in different ways. For example, the shifts per employee can be distributed from Monday to Friday, with no work being done on the weekends unless there is overtime (see example 1).

Example 1 for semi-continuous shift work


This working time model can also be designed for 7 days a week without a night shift (see example 2)

Example 2 for semi-continuous shift work


Recommendations for shift planning

In order to keep the stress on employees caused by shift work as low as possible, it is advisable to consider the following factors as much as possible when planning:

  • Brief changes between shifts, e.g. B. twice early shift, twice late and twice night shift, then free.
  • The layers should rotate forward instead of backwards, so "Early - late - night" instead of "early - night - late". In this way, those affected get along better with shift work, because this variant is most similar to our natural rhythm.
  • The number of consecutive Night shifts is possible low to hold, a maximum of three times in a row.
  • The shift workers should if possible long periods of rest after the night shift phase be granted. 24 hours are hardly enough for regeneration here. Are better 48 hours.
  • Even if legal exceptions are possible, the Minimum rest of eleven hours should be adhered to between two working days if possible. There is no minimum rest time for the shift sequences “late-morning” and “night-late”.
  • Shift work should be carried out for sufficient regeneration no more than five working days extend one after the other.
  • As far as possible, individual shift days should 8 hour limit do not exceed and with regard to their duration of Heaviness of the work be adjusted.
  • Two days off on the block are better than single days off.
  • The Early stage should not too early start, but ideally not until 6 a.m. Otherwise, she would be very close to a night shift because the alarm clock would go off in the middle of the night.
  • The earlier the night shift ends, the better for sleep. Night workers who go to bed earlier typically have longer daytime sleep.

Protection rights for night workers

Because the regulation of working hours is basically the responsibility of the employer, it is difficult to give specific tips for exemption from shift work. In the following, some of the protective rights of employees that can lead to an exemption from shift work are presented. According to § 6 ArbZG, these apply to night workers.

The occupational medical examination in shift work

Despite all recommendations and despite the ergonomic design of shift work, health remains at risk.

That's why workers who work the night shift have one Entitlement to an occupational medical examination

  • before starting employment
  • then at intervals of no less than three years
  • From the age of 50, night workers can be examined once a year.
costs do not arise for the employee as a result of the occupational medical examination. These has to be borne by the employer (Section 6 (3) ArbZG).

Claims of the night worker if there is an existing health hazard

If the occupational medical examination reveals that the shift work endangers the health of the employee, this does not necessarily mean that the night worker can no longer work at all. Finally, the health of the person affected can be adequately taken into account through appropriate shift planning.

Here that strengthened Federal Labor Court (BAG) the rights of night workers through a Landmark judgment:

The employer must not simply classify the employee as incapable of work if he can no longer work night shifts for health reasons. This was decided by the BAG in a ruling (Az. 10 AZR 637/13) from 2014: Rather, the employee then has a right to work without a night shift.

The BAG approved a nurse who, after 30 years of night work, was no longer able to work night shifts. The employer rated this as an illness that led to incapacity for work and sent his employee home. But the BAG judged differently: The plaintiff is by no means incapable of working, but can carry out all the activities of a nurse. Therefore, the hospital must take the health of its employees into account and align the shift work accordingly. So the nurse got her job back and a retrospective entitlement to remuneration was awarded. The BAG justified this with the fact that she had offered her work in accordance with the contract, but the hospital refused to accept the work.

Nevertheless, it is advisable to find a joint solution with the employer and the works or staff council if there is an existing health risk.

A night worker can in principle be his Request transfer to a daytime workstation that is suitable for himif this shift work endangers his health (Section 6 (4a) ArbZG). However, this is not always possible. The Working Hours Act prescribes a balance of interests here: Urgent operational needs must in this decision as well must be taken into account (§ 6 Abs. 4 ArbZG).

Care of children and relatives (Section 6 Paragraph 4b and c ArbZG)

This right to Implementation on a daytime workstation also exists in the following two cases:

  • Lives in the employee's household Child under twelve years of agethat cannot be looked after by someone else living in the household.
  • The employee has one relatives in need of care to take care of who cannot be looked after by another person living in the household.

But even in these two cases, implementation must not conflict with any urgent operational requirements.

Right to further training (Section 6 (6) ArbZG)

Employees who work at night, due to their shift work during further training and promotion measures for day workers not be disadvantaged. Rather, they have the same rights in this regard as colleagues who work during regular hours. It should also be in the employer's interest to train and support his shift workers in the same way as day workers.

Effects of shift work on health

Our internal clock adapts the body functions to the respective time of day and the associated requirements. During the day we are supplied with energy, while our body throttles the energy supply at night so that we can sleep and relax. Our body needs this nocturnal regeneration phase. If a night worker is supposed to work at this time, he works against his internal clock, which cannot be changed or switched off. This makes shift work a special burden.

Regardless of this internal clock there is Morning and evening people. While morning types tend to get up early and are active early in the day, evening types prefer to turn night into day. Research shows that the latter are more likely to cope with shift work than morning people.

So while some do their shift work well, others do not cope well with it. However, scientific research indicates that the framework conditions and the behavior of those affected can certainly be influenced. While the following tips cannot eliminate all of the disadvantages of shift work. But they help to deal with these problems better.

Sleeping tips

Everyone knows the longing to get a good night's sleep again. Shift workers are particularly affected because of the Don't sleep just as restfully during the day is like at night. During the day it is louder, lighter and warmer. As a result, the deep sleep and dream phases that are important for recovery are less intense than during night sleep.

In order to be able to recover as much as possible during sleep, the following measures are recommended:

  • Turn off the phone and doorbell
  • Bedroom good ventilate and darken
  • Sleep-promoting drugs and Avoid alcohol
  • Four hours before bedtime coffee and other beverages containing caffeine avoid.
  • Also fixed rituals help the body to switch off and signal the imminent bedtime.

Proper nutrition in shift work

This has absolute priority when it comes to nutrition in shift work Meal regularity. But what is eaten is just as important. When you eat fatty, hard-to-digest foods at night, you present a difficult task for your diurnal stomach. Whole grain bread, yogurt and raw vegetables are by far better digestible here.

Three meals are the minimum. Are even better five small meals spread over the day.

Just as important as regular meals is enough liquid, so two to three liters per day. Because of the high sugar content, cola and lemonade should be avoided.

Last but not least, the right framework conditions are also important:
Eating is more than just eating, it is always a small social event. In addition, meals together with colleagues promote communication.

Fit like a sneaker instead of couch potato: Sufficient exercise despite shift work

Each work shift is always associated with great exertion for body and mind. The temptation to relax by doing nothing on the couch is very great. Nevertheless, it is worth defeating your weaker self and exercising regularly. Why?

Almost all so-called diseases of civilization can be traced back to poor diet and lack of exercisebecause the cardiovascular system is losing its capacity. In addition, the spine, joints and muscles degenerate if they are not moved regularly. People, and especially those working in shifts, need them Exercise to reduce stress.

But how do shift workers ensure regular compensation?

  • Many sports can be practiced independently of clubs and associations: swimming, cycling or jogging you can also do it alone or join forces with other amateur athletes or colleagues. They are usually more flexible than clubs.
  • Lots Leisure pools have some days too open late at night. Use the opportunity.
  • It doesn't always have to be sport: Hobby gardener find numerous opportunities to let off steam in the garden.
  • Fight your weaker self: on the Stairs instead in the elevator, on foot instead of in the bus or in your own car.
  • Health insurances often offer Courses on, e.g. B. for your back.

Time for the family despite shift work

Family life is often neglected for employees who work on shifts. The family in particular forms an important support and contributes significantly to our well-being. And also their support and understanding of shift work is essential.

  • Talk to your partner and your children and find a solution together. Good deals play a particularly important role here. Regular “speaking times”, consistent task planning and firmly planned joint weekend activities are very important.
  • Also small everyday rituals contribute to an intact family life. That could be short walks or breakfast together.
  • Family time is priceless. A Leisure time compensation is therefore always more beneficial than paid overtime.

Shift work and its advantages and disadvantages - How to find your own solutions

Despite all the tips and hints - there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to shift work. The individual needs of each individual are too different to be able to present a patent recipe at this point. Because shift work always has advantages and disadvantages, which, however, are perceived and assessed differently by everyone.

Perhaps you have already implemented one or the other suggestion from this guide. Or you have already discussed with your partner or family how you can make life together better despite shift work. If not, we would like to give you another one small decision aid to hand:

  • Which Advantages and disadvantages does the shift work for you personally?
  • How burdened do you feel through shift work?
  • Why do you work in shifts?
  • Can you Alternatives present for this?
  • If there was a way would you then retire from your shift work?

Shift work: pros and cons - some examples

Shift allowances (Section 6 (5) ArbZG)Sleeping and eating disorders
free mornings and afternoonsNight workers don't see much of life anymore because they sleep during the day.
days off within the week (if working on the weekend)No or too little time for family and friends
Stress with partner
(e.g. because he has to take over the lion's share of household and child-rearing alone during the night shift.)
(82 Ratings, average: 4,30 of 5)
Shift work: About working hours, shift allowances and health risks
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