Labor law question: Are overtime hours allowed in training?

The project has to be finished, the customer is waiting: overtime is not uncommon in everyday work.

Labor law question: Are overtime hours allowed in training?

The project has to be finished, the customer is waiting: overtime is not uncommon in everyday work. But an apprenticeship is not an employment relationship. Do trainees still have to work?

Taking personal responsibility and being a valued member of the team: Apprentices are happy when they are taken seriously. But does that mean that they too have to stay longer if there is overtime?

As a rule, overtime is not allowed. The duration of the training as well as the daily and weekly training time are agreed in the training contract - and they are designed in such a way that they are sufficient to convey the learning content. "Then overtime doesn't really work," says Jürgen Markowski, a specialist lawyer for labor law in Offenburg. The crux of the matter: an apprenticeship is not an employment relationship. "The training must be in the foreground," says Markowski. As a result, trainees are generally not obliged to work overtime.

But there can be exceptions. For example, if regulations in a company agreement or in the collective agreement also allow overtime. "Then there can also be working hours in the training relationship that go beyond the regular working hours."

According to Markowski, it is crucial that these hours serve the purpose of training. "And that's why someone has to be there at the same time who is responsible for the training." This means: The trainer must accompany and monitor the longer training period. Putting trainees to work on a machine and having them work overtime to finish an order is therefore not an option.

If the company demands this without a basis in a company agreement or in the collective agreement, trainees can refuse. From a purely legal point of view, no warning or dismissal may then threaten. "But of course it's always a bit difficult for the young people to say to the boss at this point: 'I won't do it'," he qualifies. Here it is important that works councils or youth and trainee representatives - if they exist in the company - ensure that the regulations are observed.

If it does happen that more work has to be done, then according to Markowski, the overtime must be remunerated. Time off in lieu is also possible. That's what the law says. "There are only surcharges if the applicable collective agreements provide for them," says the specialist lawyer. And in any case, the statutory maximum working time must also be observed in the case of overtime.

About the person: Jürgen Markowski is a specialist lawyer for labor law in Offenburg and a member of the executive committee of the labor law working group in the German Lawyers' Association (DAV).

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