Working time account - implementing laws and regulations correctly

Hourly account simply explained - Calculate working time account

Since time recording has become a legal requirement, the question of the working time account has arisen for many entrepreneurs. How is it calculated? Which legal regulations determine its function? What effects do public holidays, minus hours or overtime have? This and more you will learn in this article.


What is a working time account?

The Federal Agency for Civic Education defines the working time account as a "documentation of the working time actually worked within the framework of regulations on flexitime or annual working time". It is usually abbreviated to AZK.

Working time accounts have been used in many industries for some time, especially in larger companies. By building up an account balance similar to a bank account, the overtime from peak periods is documented so that the credit can be withdrawn from the working time account during a less busy period by having employees finish work earlier or take several days off at once.

Is a working time account also relevant for hourly wages?

If contractual regulations, such as hourly wages, allow it, you can of course compensate for the overtime or undertime with the remuneration. However, be prepared for more conflicts, as your employees will of course be budgeting with their expected wages.

Keeping a working time account is the more elegant solution because it does not require any financial commitments. Employees are more likely to accept extra work during the peak season or on an important assignment if they can get bridge days, an extended summer vacation or Christmas with the family in return.

Regardless of this, you can still continue to pay out overtime if that is the solution of choice. Then the working time account must be adjusted accordingly.

No flexitime - no working time account?

Working time accounts are not only relevant for employees on flexitime. They are also used in manufacturing companies to balance out production peaks and troughs, or in companies with seasonal dependencies to make it easier to work extra hours in the peak season.

As an employer, am I obligated to maintain working time accounts?

No, there is no obligation to have a working time account. You are only obliged to document the actual working and break times of your employees. However, a working time account is a useful extension.

What are the advantages of a working time account?

  1. Flexibility: This applies equally to employers and employees. Working time accounts can be used to balance out seasonal and cyclical fluctuations. Equally, it means work-life balance for employees to be able to leave work earlier when there is less work to do.
  2. Security: Negative working time accounts mean that you have paid your employees an advance, but at the same time they are a time credit that you can call up at any time. If your workload changes suddenly, you don't need to organize temporary workers or temps, but can rely on your existing, fully trained employees.
  3. Reputation: Working time accounts are becoming increasingly important. The Institute for Employment Research found this out as early as 2018. They are a proven tool for flexibilizing and modernizing working conditions in your company and thus a selling point to female applicants.

Digital working time recording with automatic hour account

With Sawayo, employees record their times independently and working time account balances are calculated automatically. This way, you can always see who has how much overtime and can take appropriate action if necessary.

What are the disadvantages of a working time account?

  1. Legal restrictions: Due to various legal regulations, working time accounts cannot be structured completely freely. Maximum working hours, break times and rest periods still apply. While with a fixed working time model you no longer have to worry about these circumstances once you have implemented it, the introduction of working time accounts means that you have to constantly check whether you are fulfilling your obligations as an employer correctly. Fortunately, there is software to help you with this.
  2. Injustice: Many employees, and this really means women in particular, have hardly any opportunities to work overtime and thus compensate for previous minus hours. An early end to work due to a doctor's appointment, for example, can weigh on the working time account forever for part-time employees or for people who have children or parents to care for.
  3. Effort: A working time account needs to be documented, otherwise it loses its usefulness. However, this effort is only relevant to a limited extent since the recording of actual working times has been declared mandatory in the EU. Since then, you can't avoid entrusting someone with the maintenance of the working times and thus the working time accounts. At best, you should provide your employees with a digital solution via app to keep the effort within limits.

What are the different types of working time accounts?

Generally, you can divide working time accounts into short-term and long-term accounts. They differ according to the period in which overtime or undertime must be compensated.

Short-term accounts are probably the most common form of working time accounts and generally have a horizon of up to one year. This includes flexitime and overtime accounts.

Long-term accounts explicitly serve to build up larger time credits for earlier retirement or a sabbatical. However, the working time account can take on both functions at the same time and thus serve both short-term and long-term compensation.

How do I introduce a working time account?

In order to be able to introduce working time accounts, corresponding contractual bases are necessary.

As a rule, working time accounts are defined in works agreements, to which employment contracts in turn refer. You must check the extent to which the works council has a say in this.

Collective agreements also have an influence on the design of working time accounts in the form of framework conditions. The employment contract should also refer to the collective agreement.

The legal basis for working time accounts is the Working Time Act (ArbZG) and the Minimum Wage Act (MiLoG).

Digital working time recording with automatic hour account

With Sawayo, employees record their times independently and working time account balances are calculated automatically. This way, you can always see who has how much overtime and can take appropriate action if necessary.

The employment relationship ends, but the employee still has minus hours - what to do?

A negative working time account at the end of employment means that you, as the employer, have made an advance payment on the salary. The possibility of offsetting against the last salary depends on who is responsible for the minus hours.

If the employee was employed on flexitime and thus freely decided not to balance the working time account, you can offset the hours against the last salary payment. If you as the employer did not provide enough work, for example due to a weak order situation, offsetting is usually not possible.

And what happens to overtime?

Anyone who works more than has generally been agreed is working overtime. However, these overtime hours must at least be approved by the employer. In addition, 48 hours of work per week may only be exceeded in exceptional cases.

The special thing about overtime is that it must always be compensated. Whether you compensate in the form of money or time is determined by the collective agreement, the employment contract or a supplementary agreement.

If you set the compensation in the form of time, the employees have to take time off to compensate for it. If, on the other hand, you pay out the overtime, you simply adjust the working time account accordingly afterwards.

How do I enter holidays into the working time account?

The Continued Remuneration Act (EntgFG) applies on public holidays. Accordingly, on a public holiday, the remuneration must be paid that would have been paid on this day if it were a working day. In terms of working time, this means that on a public holiday, the working time account must be credited with exactly the hours that would have been worked.

For female employees with a flexitime agreement, these should be calculated on a pro-rata basis based on the weekly working hours, i.e. usually one fifth or one sixth of the weekly working hours per holiday.


We would like to point out that the contents of our website (including any legal contributions) are for non-binding informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice in the strict sense. The content of this information cannot and is not intended to replace individual and binding legal advice that addresses your specific situation. In this respect, all information provided is without guarantee of accuracy, completeness and timeliness.

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