Is Sunday a working day or not

Sunday work - when is it allowed?

Sunday work is part of everyday life in many industries. Bakers, nurses and gas station staff: they all work on Sundays and public holidays. However, employers cannot freely choose to have their employees come to work on weekends as well. The Working Hours Protection Act contains strict regulations that allow Sunday work only under narrowly defined conditions.

Am I obliged to work on Sundays?

Whether an employee is even obliged to work on Sundays can be seen in the employment contract. If it says that the employee only has to work from Monday to Friday, the employee is not obliged to work on Sundays. If the employer nevertheless orders Sunday work, the employee is not obliged to do it. A reliable professional legal protection insurance is there to advise those affected and protect against any consequences under labor law. If, on the other hand, the employment contract only stipulates the number of hours to be worked per week, the employer can exercise his right to direct and request Sunday work.

Working Hours Act: Sunday work is strictly prohibited

Working on Sundays is fundamentally prohibited in accordance with Article 139 of the Basic Law. It says:

"Sunday and the nationally recognized public holidays remain legally protected as days of rest from work and spiritual exaltation."

In addition, Section 9 (1) of the Working Hours Act prohibits employees from being employed on Sundays and public holidays from midnight to midnight.

Exceptions: When is Sunday work allowed?

Section 9 ArbZG describes the conditions under which employees may also be employed on Sundays and public holidays.

1. Changing the 24-hour period

Pursuant to Section 9 (2) ArbZG, companies that work in multiple shifts can move the period up to 6 hours forward or backward if the company is idle for the 24 hours following the start of the rest period. In this way, it is possible to move the Sunday rest to Saturday, 6:00 p.m. to Sunday, 6:00 p.m. in order to be able to restart production in time for the beginning of the week.

Section 9 (3) of the ArbZG is a special regulation for drivers and passengers. They can bring the start of the 24-hour period forward by up to 2 hours. For example, the Sunday rest for a truck or long-distance driver could last from Saturday, 10 p.m. to Sunday, 10 p.m.

2. Industry-specific exceptions

In some industries, working on Sundays and public holidays is essential. For example, a hospital cannot do without staff on Sundays. For these cases, the legislature has stipulated a special regulation in Section 10 of the ArbZG. This states that work on Sundays and public holidays is permitted if the work cannot be carried out on working days. The special regulation applies, among other things, to:

  • Emergency and rescue services
  • Restaurants and other catering facilities
  • News agencies, radio and press
  • transport services
  • Farms and facilities for the treatment and care of animals


Working Hours Act: Compensation for Sunday work

With regard to general working hours, the same rules apply to Sundays as to working days. The working time is a maximum of 8 hours, exceeding a maximum of 10 hours is only reliable if the working time is a maximum of 8 hours per day on a six-month average.

Employees who are employed on a Sunday are entitled to a substitute rest day. This is to be granted by the employer within a period of two weeks. According to ยง 5 ArbZG, the replacement day of rest is to be granted if possible following an eleven-hour break from work.

Employees who work on a public holiday must be given a replacement day of rest within eight weeks.

At least 15 Sundays per year must remain unemployed in accordance with Section 11 (1) ArbZG. For a few industries, Section 12 of the ArbZG provides for a reduction in the minimum number. Corresponding special regulations for Sunday work must be set out in writing in a collective agreement.

Special regulations for expectant mothers and young mothers

New rules for maternity protection have been in effect since January 1, 2018. If expectant and nursing mothers were generally not allowed to work on Sundays and public holidays by this date, Section 6 of the Maternity Protection Act contains revised regulations for Sunday work. In principle, employers are allowed to employ expectant and nursing mothers on Sundays and public holidays. Prerequisite: the employee expressly agrees and there is no risk to mother and child. In addition, pregnant women are not allowed to work alone on Sundays and public holidays in order to avoid endangering the unborn child.