Enforced break time during work (exception needed)

8 posts in this topic

Hello Fellow TT members,

My wife joined a job last month. She has chronic back pain and has been on a break from work for a long time. Her pain can only be controlled (with painkillers) and cannot be resolved. She did join a company in 2015, but had to quit as she was having a lot of pain from all the sitting and they were not willing to allow her to work from home even for 1 day a week. Due to her pain she prefers working her hours without a break and leaving early. Breaks would mean another 45 mins of standing, sitting or walking all of which hurt her. She used to work this way earlier too before she quit working. So when this new job came up she categorically mentioned these issues and was told as long as she does her work and is present at office for meetings etc where her physical presence is needed they had no problem how she managed her hours. She has not been unable to work from home last month as everything is a long process in her company and she got a laptop that she could take home just yesterday. She still needs a couple of approvals before she can take the laptop home, moreover she can only work a day or two from home every week. Meanwhile her back pain has increased.
 
Now after one month she is being told that she has to take 45 min breaks everyday. While this might in general be for the welfare of the employee what if this is making it worse for an employee? The company she is currently at is associated with a union but she is not a direct employee. She has been placed there by another company that takes care of her payroll, they don't care if she takes a break or not - it is up to her. Yesterday she was told it is okay if she does not take breaks, today she is being told the HR and Betriebsrat need her to take breaks or rather add break times to her time sheet. Is there anything that can be done here?

To be clear, we are not looking at challenging the employment law or taking the company to court. We wanted to know from the personal experience of others, how similar situations are handled in other companies. I think companies from a manufacturing background are the ones where the rules are fairly rigid. I am pretty sure even they would've had to make exceptions at times.

Thanks in advance,
RPC
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, RPC said:
Now after one month she is being told that she has to take 45 min breaks everyday.

 

Why 45 min? AFAIK a minimum break of 30 minutes is required after 6 hours and a minimum of 45 minutes only after 9 hours.

 

Can she work part-time? 6 hours/day?

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, RPC said:
Due to her pain she prefers working her hours without a break and leaving early.
[..]
She has not been unable to work from home last month as everything is a long process in her company and she got a laptop that she could take home just yesterday. She still needs a couple of approvals before she can take the laptop home, moreover she can only work a day or two from home every week.

The employer must allow you to take breaks, and also must monitor that you really take them. Engelchen is right, in your situation it is 30min, when you work for more than 6 hours and less than 9. The breaks must be at least 15 min long, and they cannot be at the begin of work or at the end.

 

The only way to get a breakless job would be a reduction to a 30h/week job, and working exactly 6 hours on five days.

 

Now, here comes a serious question: You mentioned that it is a remedy for her to work from home. Why not ask the company to buy exactly the very same chair/desk combination as the one that has proven to be painless at home?

 

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, engelchen said:

Can she work part-time? 6 hours/day?

 

I am hoping that once the laptop related paperwork is completed, this could be done. Perhaps on the days she has to go to office, work less than 6 hours in office and do the rest from home. That might be OK. Might even be OK on those rare days with workshops, client meetings etc.

 

5 minutes ago, franklan said:

Now, here comes a serious question: You mentioned that it is a remedy for her to work from home. Why not ask the company to buy exactly the very same chair/desk combination as the one that has proven to be painless at home?

 

When she works from home, she is usually sitting on a sofa with some time at a regular desk. It depends on how bad the pain is. She had worked for a few months like that on a fully work from home assignment a couple of years back and this combo worked quite well. But not so easy to recreate this at work.

 

Also, the current company recommends 45 minutes for an 8 hr contract. Perhaps due to a union contract.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It may be worth getting a neutral parties advice e.g. a GP or back specialist on the matter if you haven't done so already on your predicament relating to the workplace. The Doctor may depending on the outcome do an Attestation. If could be a suggestion to ask the company as they may have a company doctor you can go to. 

9 hours ago, RPC said:

Due to her pain she prefers working her hours without a break and leaving early.

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

30 Minutes break after a maximum of 6 hours work is the minimum legal requirement and is written in EU law which Germany enforces quite strictly. If a company doesn't enforce this they can get into serious trouble. As has been suggested the only legal solution I see is for her to work only 6 hours per day.

She can ask the Doctor but I'm not sure he can really help in this point of law.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The OP said himself that his wife's company needs her to at least add the breaks to her timesheet. So now the question is this, does your wife have the freedom to enter any times she chooses in her timesheet or is it somehow automatically monitored by clocking in and out at a terminal?

It sounds like a pretty flexible company and I'm assuming she can enter any time she likes, therefore the simplest thing is for her to simply add a 45 minute break in the middle of the day and then enter a finish time 45 later than reality.

If this is not possible then I would be going down the route of trying to have a doctor intervene. Although I'm a little skeptical that the best thing for your wife is supposedly an 8-hour uninterrupted stint of work each day, as opposed to shorter chunks of work with time in-between to exercise and walk, if it really is the case and it is medically recognised then couldn't her doctor write a recommendation along these lines?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Apologies for the delay in responding. It's been a rather hectic few days.

 

On 12/7/2017, 9:19:10, toBnruG said:

It sounds like a pretty flexible company and I'm assuming she can enter any time she likes, therefore the simplest thing is for her to simply add a 45 minute break in the middle of the day and then enter a finish time 45 later than reality.

 

You are right, the company is being flexible now. As of now, the break time is added to the time sheet. Hopefully this can continue.

 

On 12/7/2017, 2:55:57, Malt-Teaser said:

30 Minutes break after a maximum of 6 hours work is the minimum legal requirement and is written in EU law which Germany enforces quite strictly. If a company doesn't enforce this they can get into serious trouble. As has been suggested the only legal solution I see is for her to work only 6 hours per day.

 

Well, when the paperwork allowing her to take the laptop home is completed, this should not be an issue. We are hoping to have that completed this week.

 

On 12/6/2017, 11:07:15, smurf said:

It may be worth getting a neutral parties advice e.g. a GP or back specialist on the matter if you haven't done so already on your predicament relating to the workplace. The Doctor may depending on the outcome do an Attestation. If could be a suggestion to ask the company as they may have a company doctor you can go to. 

 

Our Hausarzt is also a specialist in anesthesiology and has been managing her pain medication. So, if needed, he can provide an attestation.

 

Thanks a lot to everyone for the advice.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now