Provisions on working hours are contained in the Working Hours Act and in collective agreements

The time spent on work and the time an employee is required to be present at a place of work at the employer’s disposal are considered working hours. Travel time is only included in working hours if it constitutes work performance. The Working Hours Act applies to both contractual and public-service employment relationships.

Regular working hours

Regular working hours are determined in accordance with the provisions of the Working Hours Act or as laid down in sectoral agreements, or according to local agreements made on the basis of these.

  • Regular working hours total a maximum of eight hours a day and 40 hours a week.
  • In many sectors the regular weekly working hours laid down in collective agreements are shorter, for example 37.5 hours.
  • The regular weekly working hours can also be arranged so that the average is 40 hours over a period of no more than 52 weeks.
  • In period-based work, the regular working hours are either 80 hours in two-week periods or 120 hours in three-week periods in tasks where period-based work is permitted.

Flexible working hour arrangements permitted under the law include flexitime and shortened working hours. There are also provisions on flexible working hours in collective agreements.  


The specific consent of the employee is required for each overtime assignment.
The employer can require overtime up to the maximum amount of 138 hours during a four-month period, though 250 hours must not be exceeded in a calendar year. The employer and the personnel may also agree on 80 hours of additional overtime.

Emergency work

In the course of a working day lasting more than six hours, employees must be given a minimum of one hour's rest, and during this time they may leave the workplace. However, in period-based and shift work, the daily rest break is half an hour.

In exceptional conditions, the employer may require the employee to work in addition to the regular working hours and overtime. Emergency work can be required when an unexpected event interrupts or seriously threatens to interrupt regular operations or to put life, health or property at risk. Emergency work can be required up to the maximum of two weeks.

Rest periods

During the 24 hours following each work shift, employees must be provided with a daily rest period of at least 11 hours and, once a week, a rest period of at least 35 hours.

See also:

Labour law, brochures

Further information:

Guidance and supervision of labour legislation: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Osha)

Law-drafting: Tarja Kröger, tarja.kroger(at), Nico Steiner, nico.steiner(at)