German Workers Win The Right To Work Just 28 Hours A Week

It's well known that British workers spend far more time in work than they probably should do - at least compared with other nations across Europe - and actually get less done when they're there.

Well, prepare to be envious when you find out that German workers have successfully won the right to work just 28 hours a week. That's equivalent to four seven-hour days with a one hour unpaid break and a three day weekend. Sounds pretty cushy to us.

The deal was won by workers at IG Metall, Europe's largest trade union, and will initially affect around 900,000 metal and engineering workers in Baden-Württemberg in the south-west of Germany, The Independent reports.

While you might think that's small, the deal could eventually impact as many as 4 million people across Germany if it spurs other industries and lawmakers to change their practices.


According to the terms of the deal, workers at the firms affected can opt to adopt a 28-hour working week for up to two years as of next year, with employers powerless to stop them taking it up.

However, employers haven't completely lost out - in return for making the agreement, businesses gained the right to offer more workers 40-hour contracts, basically giving workers the flexibility to work as much or as little as they like.

Jorg Hoffman, leader of IG Metall, said the agreement was a 'milestone on the way to a modern, self-determined world of work'.

Rainer Dugler, head of the employers' association for the engineering industry, agreed with Hoffman, saying: "[The agreement] was worth the effort. We have laid the foundation for a flexible working time system."

Workers striking outside the BMW factory in Munich. Credit: PA
Workers striking outside the BMW factory in Munich. Credit: PA

The historic deal comes on the back of three 24-hour strikes held by IG Metall which saw workers at a number of engineering firms refusing to work.

The union had been urging employers to pay attention to employees who would now prefer to have more time to spend with their families or volunteer rather than be compensated with higher pay.

The deal is a huge breakthrough for flexible work in Europe as well as justification for German trade unions - who proudly argue their workers are behind a predicted 2 percent growth in Germany's economy this year.

We've all heard of the growing gig economy, full of flexible but flimsy work. If this deal gives workers the security of a full-time job and a greater say over their working hours, it sounds like a victory for them.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Chris Ogden

Chris Ogden is a journalist at LADbible. He graduated from the University of East Anglia with degrees in English Literature and Creative Writing before completing his NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Journalism. Chris has previously written for the independent culture magazine The Skinny, among other publications.

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