Should I work on Sunday

When is Sunday work allowed?

Career & Profession

Whether baker, waiter or nurse: They all have one thing in common, namely that they also have to work on Sundays. Because in many professions, work on Sundays is indispensable. During my student days, for example, I often waited on Sundays. For me it was completely normal. That's why I never asked what my employer actually had to pay attention to.

However, there are strict rules that you have to adhere to when working on Sundays and public holidays in Germany. So I spoke to lawyer Benjamin Dahm and asked him my questions about Sunday work.

General prohibition

Generally speaking, working on Sundays is actually forbidden in Germany. This is even stipulated in the Basic Law. Article 139 says the following: “Sunday and the nationally recognized public holidays remain legally protected as days of rest from work and spiritual exaltation.” And it is also worth taking a look at the Working Hours Act. Because there (Section 9 (1)) it is stated that employees may not be employed on Sundays and public holidays from midnight to midnight.


However, there are many areas where working on Sundays is essential. For example, a hospital cannot simply do without staff on Sundays. “For these cases, the legislature has stipulated a special regulation. This means that work on Sundays and public holidays is permitted if the work cannot be carried out on working days, ”explains Benjamin Dahm. 16 different areas are affected by this exemption, which are allowed to arrange Sunday work under certain conditions. These can be divided into the following categories:

  • Industry-specific legal exemptions (You can find all areas that are included here.)
  • Exceptions through collective agreements
  • Exceptions through the approval of the supervisory authority

“Sector-specific exceptions include, for example, emergency and rescue services, hospitals and restaurants. But the exception also applies to intelligence services and farmers, ”says the expert. There may also be special regulations for Sunday work in collective agreements. For example, fewer than 15 free Sundays or the omission of substitute rest days can be agreed there. In addition, various authorities can authorize work on Sundays.

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Competent Authorities

As you've probably noticed by now, it's pretty difficult to see who can (or must) work on Sundays and who isn't. Therefore, the supervisory authorities monitor whether the rules for Sunday work are being observed. The supervisory authorities are either the trade inspectorate, the state office for occupational safety or the office for occupational safety and security technology. “These offices are not only responsible for the control, but can also issue other special permits. For example, a company that wants to take an inventory on a Sunday can request permission. All that is required is a letter in which the employer specifies the time, duration, location, number of employees concerned and the reason for working on Sundays, ”said the legal expert. Since this special permit is the responsibility of the federal states, the exceptions can vary. For example, Hessen had stipulated that Sunday work is permitted in video stores, libraries, lottery companies and call centers. However, the Federal Administrative Court overturned this ordinance in 2014.

Already knew?

14 percent of all employees in Germany work permanently or regularly on Sundays and public holidays.

Rules for working on Sundays

While there are some industries that allow work on Sundays and public holidays, there are rules and restrictions that employers must adhere to. This includes the following points:

  • Employees are allowed to work a maximum of eight hours on Sundays and public holidays. An extension to ten hours is only permitted if the excess is compensated within six months.
  • Employees receive an alternative day of rest.
  • At least 15 Sundays must be vacant per year.
  • Sundays and public holidays as well as the substitute rest day are to be granted in direct connection with a daily rest period of 11 hours.

Compensation for the extra work

Since Sunday work is an exception, the German Working Hours Act provides that there is compensation for the work performed. “The employee is entitled to a substitute rest day after Sunday work. This must be granted on a working day within two weeks, ”the lawyer knows. For work on public holidays, however, the employer has different deadlines in order to grant compensation: "If a public holiday falls on a working day, the employer must observe a period of eight weeks in order to grant the employee a replacement day of rest."

Regulations in the employment contract

For employees, the request to work on Sundays often comes as a surprise. They are not always happy about the additional working day. Therefore, after the employer's request, the employee should first take a look at his employment contract, as lawyer Benjamin Dahm explains: “If the employment contract explicitly states that Sunday work is not provided, employees do not have to do this either. However, if you do not find such a passage in your contract and work on Sundays is common in your company, your employer can order work on Sundays and public holidays. However, the prerequisite is that there is a need for this. "

A small example will certainly help you to better understand this rule. If your employment contract states that working hours are limited to Monday to Friday, the employer must also adhere to this period. However, if there is no indication in the contract as to when the work will take place, the employer can order Sunday work in certain situations.


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This article was originally published on September 24, 2018 (Disclaimer).

Our partner lawyer

ROLAND partner lawyer Benjamin Dahm specializes in labor law and therefore knows the rights and obligations of employers and employees very well. In the Siegburg law firm Solmecke Rechtsanwälte, which has six offices in the Rhineland, Benjamin Dahm is also the contact person for the topics of traffic law and insurance law.

Benjamin Dahm

Solmecke law firm

This article is part of the series "Labor and Professional Legal Protection"