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I am an apprentice for IT in germany. My boss wants me to take my laptop home after work and during the weekends to be on-demand if any sudden work comes up in my free time (like a customer needs a server restart etc)

I feel like those are more responsibilities than I should have already (not to mention other stuff that is going beyond my apprenticeship). I am earning a "normal" apprentice salary and got a default IHK contract and have been working in this position for a year now, without having to do work during my free time.

Do I have to take the laptop home and be on demand? And how do I confront my boss about this?

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    You're working under the Auszubildender framework? Whether it's legal for your boss to ask this is somewhat outside the scope of this site unless there's clear-cut legislation that someone in HR in Germany would know. We've got a few German users so perhaps they know more about this. Whether it's an appropriate request to make of someone with your profile is a more appropriate question here. – Lilienthal Oct 11 '16 at 10:42
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    If you've been working in that job for the past year, then I'd take this as your boss letting you have more responsibility rather than forcing you to do more work. I'd look at this as being career progression. As to how much work you'll actually have to do outside working hours, that's impossible for us to know. I've been taking my home laptop home for years - I've very rarely had to work on it for more than a few minutes. – user44108 Oct 11 '16 at 10:48
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    Do you already know your local IHK representative? The IHK is there for exactly this situation. I would really encourage you to get in touch with them. They will not only be able to give you the correct answer, but they'll also get in touch with your employer to solve this if this will be necessary. – s1lv3r Oct 11 '16 at 10:49
  • Are you "volljährig"? Are you being paid for the overtime? How would you even know you need to restart a server. Bottom line is there are so many red flags in this that it hurts, but to craft a good answer, you need to give more information. Please don't listen to the answers. Both are given in good faith, but neither actually knows German "Ausbildungsverhältnisse". – nvoigt Oct 11 '16 at 13:00
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I don't know the specific laws in Germany, but most will tell you the same thing regardless of where you live.

They don't own you. It's not an uncommon thing to take on-demand shifts, but those should be paid extra. If it's not already part of your contract (you should be able to check, either by looking at it yourself or contacting specialists who are familiar with it), you're most definitely not getting paid to do it.

If you can't or don't want to do it, even if it's paid, you simply have to say that you can't.

If you're open to it then you can say that bringing the laptop won't be a problem but since it's outside of work hours, for which you are receiving salary for, you need to get paid for those hours.

I find it weird that they've not discussed payments already. If they don't want to pay you extra you have to address that you cannot justify such a balance of work and personal time without being paid properly (this balance should not be disturbed too much anyway), you simply have to decline.

If they have an issue with this, then you should simply get out as fast as you can.

  • Note that this answer says nothing about you being an apprentice - that is indeed irrelevant to the issue. – user8036 Oct 11 '16 at 11:49
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    @JanDoggen actually, it depends on German law. In France for instance, apprentices aren't allowed to work from home and cannot work more than 35 hours a week. However, this is highly theoritical, and I've regularly worked from home and done 45+ hours shifts during apreticeship. If I wanted to escalate the issue to a lawyer though there was legal ground to get compensation – Aserre Oct 11 '16 at 12:23
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    Because they should not matter in this context. Don't be treated like an animal is the message, I don't care where you live. – Jonast92 Oct 11 '16 at 14:46
  • This is the correct answer. Just to bring the laptop home, you should receive extra, and as soon you got a call, billable by the hour, with a mininum of two hours paid as soon as you pick up a call. and then there are shifts, people on call cant leave home usually. Consider it a sign you are being unfairly classified as an apprentice by this time. I would consider this a wake up call that is time to change jobs. – Rui F Ribeiro Oct 12 '16 at 4:43
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Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer I can't and don't want to give you legal advice.

However, Google turned up some results for me: According to this union page and this other union page, your employer can't order you to be on standby:

Da eine Rufbereitschaft keine Kenntnisse und Fertigkeiten vermittelt, die dem Ausbildungszweck dienen, dürfen Azubis grundsätzlich keinen Ruf- oder Bereitschaftsdienst machen.

My very rough translation: because they're not learning any new skills by being on standby, apprentices may not be put on standby duty.*

If you want to take this up with your employer, I'd recommend following s1lv3r's advice and contacting your IHK representative and/or your union representative and asking them what they recommend doing.

*Please don't start arguing that apprentices may learn plenty of new skills while on standby, I'm not trying to make this point ;-)

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Your boss can ask anything of you he/she wants, you're able to refuse or vote with your feet and leave.

However I don't see this as a bad thing, a server restart might take a few minutes at most. It's unlikely that you'll even have to do so and it shows your boss wants to give you more responsibility and has faith in your ability to do simplish things unsupervised. Also letting you loose with a laptop secure in the knowledge that you're not going to put it on ebay.

I'm unsure what is normal for Germans, but places I have worked no one would complain if they're committed to their jobs and had a strong work ethic.

You can bring up the subject of payment, when and if you actually need to do something. If you do get called up, keep a log of the time and discuss remuneration with your boss on Monday.

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    It's not jsut the fact that it only takes a few minutes, but what about his responsibilities when not being called-out? Can the OP go to a bar and have a drink? Can he go out to eat with a significant other? Should he bring the laptop then? Are there time-limits on when they can call you (e.g. 2AM?). What about consequences if you don't respond on time or at all? – R-D Oct 11 '16 at 12:27
  • @R-D OP can do whatever he likes, he's going to get a phone call first, he doesn't need the laptop with him all the time. If he's unavailable to answer the phone then he's unavailable. As for the rest, I have no idea. No sane boss would try and punish him for not answering at 2AM. And I always assume sanity unless there's a good reason not to. – Kilisi Oct 11 '16 at 12:31
  • A server restart might take a few minutes, but it still means that he has to be able to access it from where he is, whenever and at whatever time is demanded. It's a responsibility that he can be accounted for if he turns out to be too busy to access it right away. Sure it's nice to be able to show more responsibility, but if it can affect your personal life the least a company can do is add some extra bucks for the effort. – Jonast92 Oct 11 '16 at 12:33
  • @Jonast92 I agree with that, which is why I said log the time and then discuss remuneration. The rest is how it's handled, being on call in a situation like this doesn't mean sitting on the laptop poised for action. It means answering your phone at reasonable times and making a timeframe to restart the server. – Kilisi Oct 11 '16 at 12:35
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    I think your answer is valuable and provides another perspective. The additional responsibility is a good thing and assuming goodwill also gets you further. The only thing I would take issue with is discussing renumeration after the hours have been incurred, which puts you in a slight tactical disadvantage. – Underdetermined Oct 11 '16 at 12:43
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There is time where you are free to do whatever you like. Your company doesn't pay you for that time. And there is time where you are not free to do whatever you like but have to do what your boss wants; that time is called "work" and you get paid for it.

If you transport your laptop from work to home and back to work because your boss tells you so, that's work and you should get paid for it. If you sit at home besides your laptop in case you get a call, thats' work and you should get paid for it. You can't expect much pay because it is very light work, but your boss can't expect you to do this for free. (All this applies world wide).

And it is quite likely that as an apprentice in Germany, you are not allowed to do this even for money, because as an apprentice you should primarily learn the job and you aren't going to learn anything while sitting besides your phone and waiting for calls.

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