In Germany, if you e.g. learned of an illness of a colleague, you are not allowed to disclose this to other colleagues or even the employee. I am wondering whether something similar applies to information regarding when they worked outside of usual office hours.


I work in IT and often on Sunday. The office building is almost always completely empty on the weekends. Last Sunday I found that for the first time I was not alone and another member of my team was there on call.

A few days later during small talk with other colleagues I wanted to mention that we spend the Sunday at the company together. Then I wondered whether this would be sensitive information protected under privacy laws.

I assume that it makes a difference whether he was on call (has to work, but could have worked from home) or whether he just felt like he wanted to finish some stuff on the weekend.


Please note that I am hesitant to mention that information not because working on the weekend is seen as illegal or against company policy. I am hesitant because I am giving away something that feels like personal information, i.e. what people do on their weekends which is usually free time. Someone might think: "Oh, this guy worked on the weekend? Interesting, he probably has no friends or does not want to spend time with his family.". Of course, on the other hand, the one who did come in on the weekend, voluntarily chose to come to the office instead of staying at home and therefore also volunteered that information.

closed as off-topic by gnat, Twyxz, Mister Positive, bharal, BigMadAndy Oct 5 '18 at 15:35

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions seeking advice on company-specific regulations, agreements, or policies should be directed to your manager or HR department. Questions that address only a specific company or position are of limited use to future visitors. Questions seeking legal advice should be directed to legal professionals. For more information, click here." – gnat, Twyxz, Mister Positive, BigMadAndy
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    Pre-emptive: As per this highest voted answer on meta, this question should be OK, although it is a legal question. – problemofficer Oct 5 '18 at 11:40
  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it should be in legal. also op can just ask someone in hr. – bharal Oct 5 '18 at 13:01
  • 3
    @bharal not sure I'm following your logic there - either it's an answer that belongs on legal (and therefore off topic here) or it's one that can be answered by a HR professional and therefore is explicitly on-topic. It can't be both! FWIW (and I'm no expert on German employment) this sounds like the sort of thing that should be on topic here. – motosubatsu Oct 5 '18 at 13:31
  • 1
    @bharal can't see any reason why this would be a company-specific policy as opposed to a general employment fact generic to the locale (admittedly I can't see why it would be prohibited at all but that's not relevant to the issue of it being on topic) and if the OP is genuinely concerned that they would be in trouble for disclosing to someone else their knowledge of this colleague's Sunday working to other employees of the company I could see how asking HR wouldn't be their first port of call since it would involve revealing the very thing they want to know if they can reveal. [cont] – motosubatsu Oct 5 '18 at 13:40
  • 2
    and it may seem trivial to you and me but clearly the OP was concerned enough to ask – motosubatsu Oct 5 '18 at 13:41

It's a legal question. I'm not a lawyer.

But I can't imagine it's illegal. Plenty people do unpaid overtime also in Germany. I work at a big company with labor unions and I do get a lot of emails sent at 9 pm and similar times. I remember some reports that were sent to all employees (including the CEO) on Saturdays.

As far as I understand it's not illegal to work on weekends. It's illegal for the employer to force people to do unpaid overtime or to work on weekends (unless the contract stipulates that).

Working on weekends and mentioning working on weekends to other people are two things of course, but it's hard for me to imagine information like that could be protected, as it doesn't concern illegal behavior or someone's private sphere.

Why you want to mention that is a completely different question of course. I can't imagine why you would like to mention it.

  • Thank you for the answer. I added an addendum to clarify why I am hesitant to disclose that information. It's not because working on the weekend is "illegal". – problemofficer Oct 5 '18 at 15:12
  • @problemofficer, I have problems understanding what your issue here is. You are asking whether it's illegal to mention it. It's highly improbable that it's ILLEGAL to mention it. If you think mentioning that may go against the person, don't mention it. You don't need to do everything that's legal, you know. Actually, I mentioned that in my last paragraph. – BigMadAndy Oct 5 '18 at 15:16
  • Of course I would not mention it, if it wen't against that person. But sometimes you talk with friendly colleagues like if it were friends, but while you would not hesitate at all to mention that someone had a cold and could not come to a party, mentioning that in the workplace is against the law. The same imho applies to what people did on the weekends. It would not hesitate to mention it to friends ("it was fun we could do what we want, because nobody else was there") but in the workplace...I don't know. Did it become clearer? – problemofficer Oct 5 '18 at 15:22

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.