Forced To Work Overtime – How You Can Defend Yourself

Forced To Work Overtime – How You Can Defend Yourself

First of all, being forced to work overtime is something that should no longer exist. If you find yourself in a situation where your boss is forcing you to work overtime without offering anything in return, you must defend yourself. In this article, we explain how you can best do that.

Forced To Work Overtime – Legally Prohibited

To start with, you should be aware of the legal situation. Overtime is not forbidden, but you may not be forced to work it, even if there is financial compensation or time off in lieu.

  • Overtime must be ordered by the employer and justified by operational emergencies/necessities (this is not yet compulsion).
  • You have the right to refuse to work overtime for compelling private reasons (e.g. because of a doctor’s appointment that had been planned for a long time, or because of childcare).
  • Even with overtime, you must not violate the Working Hours Act (short-term more than 10 hours a day / 60 hours a week; half-year average no more than 8 hours a day or 48 hours a week).
  • Overtime must be compensated financially or by time off.
  • Overtime should be the exception and not the rule.

What To Do When You Are Always Forced To Work Overtime?

Coercion is a harsh word. Therefore, you should first try to evaluate the situation objectively. The best way to do this is to answer these questions:

  • Is there a good working atmosphere in the company that is not characterized by fear and mistrust?
  • Do you get along well with your boss?
  • Is there only sporadic overtime?
  • Can the overtime be objectively justified with emergencies (e.g. sickness-related absences of colleagues, important project coming to an end, above-average number of orders)?
  • Do you have the possibility to refuse the overtime?

If you answer NO to these questions, then there is a lot of evidence of systematic problems. The employees, including you, are indeed forced to work overtime.

Documenting Overtime Is The First Step

Being forced to work overtime does not necessarily mean that this overtime is not paid. But when coercion is involved, financial exploitation is not far away. And most of the time there is neither a works council nor an employee representation in such companies that you can turn to. But before you take any further steps, you should document the extent. Keep a log of the overtime you have worked and make notes about the activities behind it. If you have done this for one or two months, then you can also prove whether the Working Hours Act has been violated on a sustained basis.

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Second Step: Search Conversation

Even if the atmosphere is already strained, you should still seek a conversation with your boss. Use your records to show him how much you have already done for the company and what value your labor represents. If he does not recognize this, then point out the legal situation to him. Overtime cannot be forced and it must be compensated. If the Working Hours Act has been violated, you can also point this out to him. But stay objective. It may help if he understands that he is liable for overtime violations if accidents occur on the way home and his employees are injured or injure other people due to overwork and fatigue. There should always be agreement between you and your boss on the subject of overtime and its compensation. If this cannot be achieved, then more drastic steps must be taken.

Drastic Steps For Forced Overtime

Basically, you have three options. All options are not really pleasant, but only consistent if something is to change.

  • If the Working Hours Act is frequently violated and this applies not only to you, but also to many colleagues, you can inform the trade supervisory office (if there is no works council, to which you should first go). The factory inspectorate can impose sanctions if an inspection reveals such abuses.
  • You can sue for your claims with the help of a lawyer.
  • You look for a new job and quit.

Make Your Value And Your Demands Clear

If talks with your boss don’t bring anything, then the relationship is broken and you won’t be happy in your company anyway. Therefore, in the final analysis, looking for a job is probably the best solution for you. Make yourself clear, for example with the help of slected’s career coach, where your market value lies and what kind of environment you expect.

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