My employer (a German AG company) asks us to stay in the company for 9 hours per day to fulfill a 40 hrs/week contract (as a data scientist). So, a typical day would be from 9-18 which includes 8 hours of work and 1 hour of a mid-day break.

My imagination was that a 40 hours contract is equal to being in the company from 9-17 including the lunch break. So, I was wondering if this is typical among the majority of German companies or even it is the same in other places like the UK and US?

  • 5
    Are you basically asking whether your lunch break is included in your contracted working hours?
    – user44108
    Aug 9 '19 at 14:07
  • 6
    8 hours * 5 days = 40. I'm not aware of anyone getting paid for lunch, unless they are still somehow working (or on call or something). UK here and usually the company will state what you do for lunch (flexi, 1/2 hour, full hour, etc) but you don't get to count it as time worked.
    – Smock
    Aug 9 '19 at 14:07
  • 1
    That is the same as here in the UK. Your lunch break doesn't get included in your weekly contractual hours, so if your contract says 40 hours that is excluding your one hour lunch per day. This is very normal and I've never seen it any other way whilst working in the UK and Germany.
    – Clare
    Aug 9 '19 at 14:27
  • Are you salaried or I think the French terms is Cadre Aug 9 '19 at 19:26
  • I once worked a summer at a company where the official work day was 0800 to 1642. Yes, lunch was set at 42 minutes long. No idea why, other than making it more unlikely to go off site...
    – Jon Custer
    Aug 10 '19 at 2:45

Most places you are expected to put in 8 work hours and lunch does not count and is not paid.

From second answer to "8-to-5 vs. 9-to-5 as acceptable regular work hours"

I'd add that while that's true, in some types of jobs like software development and sales there's almost always flexibility in scheduling. Management realizes there isn't a 1:1 relationship between your productivity and the time you spend at the desk in the office.

  • 1
    Worth noting that while your personal productivity is only loosely linked to time in the office, the team's productivity is highly correlated to shared time in the work environment (can be remote of slack/video confernce), so working significantly different time windows can hurt the team.
    – cdkMoose
    Aug 9 '19 at 15:10
  • 1
    @cdkMoose Yes, if you need to work closely with others you need to synchronize schedules as much as possible. So it depends on the team structure.
    – HenryM
    Aug 9 '19 at 17:39
  • @HenryM by definition almost every Professional Salaried Job doesn't have fixed hours Aug 9 '19 at 19:25
  • @Neuromancer OK but if a company culture requires you to work 40 hours/week and you can only work at the office and the boss leaves at 5PM you'd be under a lot of pressure to work "fixed hours" even tho it's technically not a legal requirement at all. And in states where the employer can fire you because you thought about passing gas, you're going to jump when they say jump.
    – HenryM
    Aug 9 '19 at 19:38
  • 1
    @HenryM the OP is in Germany the USA is very much an outlier in terms of labour law. Aug 9 '19 at 20:40

Perfectly normal. A 40h contract is 40h of work without breaks.

In addition according to German labor law your company has to give you a break after 4h of work, so working for 8h straight without break is not allowed.

  • It's worth adding that definitions of working time vary between different purposes and contracts - there's no one true number of hours you work. For example, pilots may be paid by flying hour and care workers by contact hour, but regulators and minimum wage laws may use different definitions to those in contracts. Also, those 40h of contractual hours may include security checks, showering, training, whatever, that the employer doesn't consider work. IMO it's quite reasonable to define 'work' as the whole day with commute for your own purposes as well, especially for job comparison. Aug 10 '19 at 10:10

All the places I worked is 9 hours per day. 1 hour lunch, 8 hours of work. You do not have to stay at the work place for your lunch break, and you can leave for your hour lunch. Some folks do not take the lunch and leave an hour earlier than others since they worked their full 8 hours day. In some cases, you get an hour lunch and 15 minutes midday breaks. The 15 minute breaks are usually on company dime.

Now if you're asking if it's unusual to be asked to work all 9 hours, then yes, that is a bit unusual and sounds to me like they're abusing your contract (asking for a free hour of work, basically). In recent IT circle like Facebook and Google, some companies mimic the company policies by having gyms, cafeterias (catering), and even beds at the work places to make people feel like they should and ought to work even longer than 40 hours, all for free since they're salaried and can't get over time. They even give on call phones and laptops all to make people work longer than they should without paying them for it.


A 40 hour contract is for 40 hours of work. Lunch and breaks do not count as work and therefore are not part of the expected 40 hours.

Depending on your position and the industry you're working on you have more or less flexibility on your work schedule, being able to do half hour lunch break and leave half an hour earlier or arrive half an hour later, or leave earlier in one day and then stay longer on the other day.

  • Not 100% on a bit of a nitpick. Though lunch time is almost always excluded from the credited work time, it is very common for there to be mandatory paid break time. In the US, many places that is 15 minutes each 4 hour shift mandatory paid break making a 40 hour week actually 37.5 of expected work. I have seen paid 1/2 hour lunches typically for plants running 3x8 hour shifts per day, but those are expection.
    – dlb
    Aug 9 '19 at 16:23
  • I agree with dlb. Short breaks are normally paid for. If they weren't this would lead to a chaos (checking out and in every time you go to the toilet, etc.). It's actually like that in some unskilled professions, but that's not what we should strive for.
    – BigMadAndy
    Aug 9 '19 at 17:49
  • Yep, that's correct, but I didn't want to make an overly long answer and try to cover every single possibility, otherwise we would be here forever. General principle is what I stated in the answer and of course there is the whole letter x spirit of the law part. You usually don't get paid for the longer breaks, however they're divided across your working day, and get paid for the shorter breaks (water, toilet, etc.) because the effort of tracking those is too much for the money you get back from it. Aug 12 '19 at 9:13

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .