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The legal basis of shift planning

There are many questions on the subject of shift planning relating to legal regulations, security and data protection. For example, what must be included in the duty roster? What are the rights and obligations? And how do you create a duty roster that complies with data protection regulations? Find out everything you need to know about duty rosters and the law here.

Definition: What is a duty roster?

A duty roster is quite simply a tool for staff deployment planning. A duty roster can be used to schedule employees in terms of location and time. This allows you to cover the qualitative and quantitative personnel requirements and ensure that a company's target planning is achieved. It provides an overview of employees' working hours. If it is well organized, it is easier to comply with legal requirements.

A duty roster should contain the following information:

  • Start and end times of working hours
  • Break times
  • Rest periods
  • Days of absence such as vacation, illness or training

Duty rosters and the law - this is the legal basis

When an employer draws up a duty roster, they are exercising their right to issue instructions to their employees, which they are entitled to do. This means that they can determine when their employees have to do which work. This is because the employer must be able to ensure that the required work can be carried out. There are rights and obligations for employers and employees in connection with a duty roster.

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Implement legally compliant duty rosters with shyftplan

Are you looking for a legally compliant and simple solution for creating complex duty rosters? In a personal consultation, you will learn from a software demo how you can implement this effectively, demand-optimized and employee-oriented with the help of shyftplan.

Is a duty roster binding?

In principle, a duty roster is legally binding - from the moment it is posted or issued to employees. However, an employer may not simply assign employees as they wish. When drawing up duty rosters, the relevant laws apply and employers must comply with them.

What legal provisions apply to duty rosters?

Of course, a duty roster is subject to the law. Anyone who wants to create a duty roster must therefore also comply with legal provisions. For example, an employer must ensure that country-specific requirements such as maximum permitted working hours or rest breaks are adhered to.

The Working Hours Act stipulates the following requirements, among others:

Daily working hours - Section 3 ArbZG

Employees may work a maximum of eight hours a day. In exceptional cases, this may be extended to ten, but may not exceed eight hours on average over a six-month period.

Breaks - § 4 ArbZG

Breaks are determined in advance: If a worker works for more than six hours, they are entitled to a 30-minute break; if they work for more than nine hours, they must take a 45-minute break. These can be divided into smaller partial breaks of at least 15 minutes in length.

Rest periods - § 5 ArbZG

Rest periods must be taken after every working time: This is eleven hours, which may not be interrupted. Only in some sectors, such as catering, broadcasting or care, can this be reduced to ten hours.

Night shifts - § 6 ArbZG

Working hours between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. must be compensated by a higher wage or more time off.

Weekends - § 10 ArbZG & § 11 ArbZG

Work is generally not permitted on Sundays and public holidays. However, shift work companies can "postpone" the time during which work is permitted by up to six hours: for example, the night shift from Friday evening to Saturday morning may only last six hours. Certain exceptions also apply to companies where permanent staffing is necessary - such as hospitals. Here too, however, there must be compensation.

Creating a duty roster - legal aspects to consider

When creating a duty roster, the interests of the employees must also be taken into account, especially as the employee representatives or the works council have a say in the creation of the duty rosters.

It is important that a duty roster is always comprehensible. The planned and actual hours worked must be clearly recognizable. This also applies to any differences that may arise. In the event of subsequent changes to the duty roster, the law requires that these must be marked accordingly.

Duty roster changes & the law: Can a duty roster simply be changed?

The short answer: no. This is because there is also a law governing duty roster changes: once duty rosters have been drawn up and issued to employees, they cannot be changed again without further ado. As a rule, employers must announce changes at least four days in advance. Duty roster changes at short notice require a specific emergency situation.

How far in advance must employees receive the duty roster?

Unfortunately, the law does not clearly state when a duty roster must be announced by the employer. As this point rarely ends up in court, there are hardly any court decisions that could serve as a guide. However, there may be binding regulations in collective agreements, works agreements or employment contracts.

Nevertheless, there are common practical tips: if, for example, a duty roster is drawn up that applies for an entire month, employees should receive it around two weeks in advance. The time between publication and the start of the duty roster should therefore be around half of the "validity period" of the duty roster. The above-mentioned law also applies to roster changes. Read more about this in our article Duty roster - announcements and deadlines.

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Duty roster & data protection / GDPR

Do you have to observe data protection when creating a duty roster?

As a duty roster requires personal data, data protection naturally also applies here. A duty roster must not simply be posted for all to see and certainly not photographed and sent via Messenger, for example - which is often the case in smaller companies in particular.

But even in larger companies, there is a problematic relationship between duty rosters and data protection: if, for example, there is an Excel document that all employees can access and thus view the personal data of third parties, data protection is violated.

The following therefore applies: a duty roster is a document with confidential, personal data and should be treated as such.

Who is allowed to view the duty roster?

When it comes to data protection, the law on duty rosters is clear: not every employee has the right to view the entire duty roster. Equally, every employee has the right to prevent the roster from being published - even within the company.

Data protection-compliant duty roster - how it works

  • Never post rosters publicly
  • Do not send photos of duty rosters to your employees
  • Restrict employees' access to roster files, for example on the intranet
  • Ensure that each employee can only view their own data

Duty rostering software can help to create a duty roster that complies with data protection regulations. This puts larger companies in particular on the safe side, as intelligent solutions also take laws and legal requirements into account when creating duty rosters.

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