Does the 8-hour working day include lunch

Paid breaks in labor law

At last Having lunch or one small smoking break insert. Every employee simply looks forward to the small and large breaks in their everyday work, in which they can strengthen themselves relax for a moment and can take a breath in stressful situations.

But not all breaks are the same. German labor law makes a difference different types of these interruptions.

In a nutshell: paid breaks

Do breaks belong to working hours?

No. Section 2 (1) of the ArbZG clearly states that working time is only the time between the beginning and the end of work - without breaks. They are to be added to the working hours.

Are breaks paid?

Rest breaks are used for relaxation. They are not paid because they are not part of working hours. Every employee who works at least six to a maximum of nine hours has the right to a 30-minute break. Those who work longer can take a 45-minute break.

Are there any paid breaks in special exceptional cases?

Normally breaks are not paid, unless the employment contract or collective agreement states otherwise.

In the following we have in particular to the so-called paid breaks the most important information is compiled for you.

Paid breaks in labor law

Breaks are important, whether at school or at work on the computer, in the workshop or in production. People need breaks. They mainly serve that Osh, because you as an employee can recharge your batteries in these interruptions and, above all, the increase concentration. Thereby avoid mistakes. In addition protect your personal health by taking a break.

First of all, a few terms relating to the break in everyday work should be clarified at this point.

General information on work breaks

Work breaks are generally times stipulated in the employment contract during which a work interruption he follows. Here either a short-term recovery takes place or meals.

It should be noted that within these breaks no work done and the employees do not have to be ready, i.e. they do not have to be on call.

According to a ruling by the Federal Labor Court, each employee can usually and freely decide where and how to spend this free time. Work breaks are first of all to be distinguished into unpaid rest and the paid recovery time. This is to be distinguished from the Rest periods. You define the Time between two working days.

The Break times are in § 4 Working Hours Act (ArbZG) regulated, which sets the prescribed minimum requirement in relation to the maximum working time. The following applies:

  • No breaks are legally stipulated for a maximum working time of six hours.
  • For working hours between six and nine hours, there should be at least a 30-minute break.
  • For working hours of up to ten hours, the employee can count on at least 45 minutes.

The rule is that the breaks too divided into different time periods can be. However, these should at least 15 minutes because they are otherwise not considered a break, but rather regular working hours. In addition, an employee may no longer than six hours without a break get busy.

These minimum details in the Working Hours Act can be specified in more detail by the employer in the employment contract. This means that a break can also be set for working hours of less than six hours.

Important! A Rest is therefore a time interruption in everyday work that not during working hours counted and therefore also not remunerated becomes.

But what are paid work breaks in the end?

As mentioned earlier, will fixed breaks not paid. But there are exceptions in German law. In Collective bargaining agreements or other employment contracts, payment of rest breaks can be agreed between the employer and the employee be.

There are also additional ones Short breaks of at least five minuteswhich must be complied with in the event of heavy use. This applies to working with a enormous physical exertion such as shift work, assembly line work or reworking, as well as activities that promote tension such as longer screen work. Break times when working underground are also officially part of working hours.

Important! The Short breaks should go to Accident and hazard prevention cannot be summarized.

Work-related, paid break times are anchored in labor law primarily to cover those activities in which the human performance requirements quickly impaired are and thus the Quality of the work processes may suffer. In order to better distinguish it from the unpaid breaks, the legislature speaks at this point of the so-called Recovery timethat is inserted after a load that goes beyond the continuous output limit.

she is Part of the working time. This is especially true for paid breaks in shift work. According to Section 7 ArbZG There are different regulations for the “normal” rest breaks for the total duration of the breaks in shift operations and transport companies. Short breaks of an appropriate duration are to be observed here.

Breaks as paid working time?

In addition to the short breaks and the special regulations, there are also the paid breaks in other areas and contexts. Here are the breaks in operation and the Screen and noise breaks to distinguish.

  1. At Breaks in operation These are interruptions, the cause of which can be found in operational restructuring or in the event of malfunctions. The employee cannot pursue his employment here. Nevertheless, he should be ready to resume the tasks at any time. Therefore, these breaks count as regular working hours.
  2. Work and activities primarily happen on the screen or associated with a high level of noise must be interrupted regularly. This is called short screen pauses. They do not fall under the work break regulation and are considered completely normal paid work.

If you are not allowed to take such a break, you should approach a possible works council or ask your employer directly.

VDU work regulation - Special labor law for paid breaks


The VDU work regulation - briefly BildarbV - was specially compiled for safety and health protection when working on display devices.

It is mainly about the provision regarding a possible endangerment of eyesight, physical problems such as tension and psychological stress.

Important for the break time regulation in such activities is the §5 BildarbV:

The employer must organize the work of the employees in such a way that the daily work on display devices is regularly interrupted by other activities or by breaks, which in each case reduce the stress caused by working on the display device.

By a Amendment of the Workplace Ordinance (ArbStättV) in December 2016 the VDU work regulation was repealed as the sole regulation and has been passed over to the ArbStättV.

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Paid breaks in labor law
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