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Working hours

Working hours include the time spent on work and the time that the employee is required to be at the employer’s disposal at the workplace. Breaks are not counted as working hours if the employee is allowed to leave the workplace during these periods. Time spent travelling is not counter as working hours, unless it is also considered a work performance. 

As working life has changed, new forms of arranging working hours have emerged.  

The main rule is that working hours must be regular. According to the law, regular working hours cannot exceed eight hours a day and 40 hours a week. In practice, many workplaces use working hours of 7.5 hours a day and 37.5 hours a week according to a collective agreement or local agreement. According to the law, weekly working hours can also be arranged to average out at 40 hours a week over a maximum period of 52 weeks. 

The hours of an employee with variable working hours vary between the minimum and maximum agreed in the employment contract, meaning that the employee does not have a fixed number of hours. For example, so-called zero-hour contracts, or employment contracts for on-demand employees, are a form of variable working hours contracts.  

Flexitime  agreements bring flexibility to the employee’s work. In flexitime, the employee has the opportunity to shorten and extend the working day as needed within the agreed flexitime periods.  

When flexitime is used, the parties to the employment relationship may, by mutual written agreement, agree on the use of flexitime if the employee has the right to independently decide on the allocation of their working hours and their place of work for at least half of their hours. 

With the use of a working time bank employees can to save and merge their working hours, earned days off or monetary benefits converted into leave. Salary or wages, reimbursements of expenses or other receivables of a compensatory nature paid for regular working hours, or overdue monetary forms of compensation cannot be transferred to the working time bank.  

Additional work refers to work performed in addition to the agreed working hours that does not exceed the regular working hours specified by law. Additional work must be agreed separately and paid according to the salary or wages for regular working hours. 

Overtime work is work that exceeds the employee’s normal working hours and additional work. As a rule, overtime requires separate consent from the employee for each instance of overtime. This means that the employee cannot agree to working overtime if necessary in the employment contract. Breaks and rest According to the Working Hours Act, employees should be given a break of at least one hour during workdays of more than six hours (lunch break). The parties may agree on a shorter break, but the break must be at least half an hour. 

Education tips on the topic

You can also learn more about the topic in the online training library for working life, which is part of your member benefits. To access the courses, you must sign up to the online training library. If you have already taken advantage of your free membership benefit and started using the service, log in and click directly to the trainings from the links below. If you haven’t yet signed up, you can do so in the Webinars and Courses section in the Oma+ service for our members

Employment law