Working time model: examples, definition & advantages and disadvantages

Working time models, open-plan office

With working time models, you determine when and how much your employees work. There are many different models for different professions and life situations. Some working time models are regulated by law or collective agreements.


Why use different working time models?

Of course, it is easiest and clearest for you if all employees work according to the same working time model. In practice, however, you will find that loyalty to the company increases if you can accommodate your employees' circumstances and offer them part-time or flexitime, for example. Applicants will also be more likely to consider your company if you can accommodate them. Of course, there are also the requirements of laws and collective bargaining agreements.

Flexible working time model or fixed working hours

Nowadays, rigid working time models are increasingly being replaced by flexible ones - the classic 9-to-5 job is becoming less and less common. This has many advantages, both for employees and employers:

  • Your company can better respond to fluctuations in demand and production.
  • Your employees develop a stronger bond with the company and demonstrably quit less often.
  • Productivity increases because employees' biorhythms can be taken into account.
  • Absenteeism is reduced because work can be rescheduled around doctor's appointments or picking up children.
  • Older employees, who may no longer be able to work full-time with strict working hours without endangering their health, remain with the company longer as knowledge carriers.
  • Your company will have a higher reputation among potential female applicants.
  • Flexible working hours also reduce stress and increase satisfaction among employees.

The legal basis

Who is allowed to work how much and when is governed first and foremost by the Working Hours Act. In addition, you must involve the works council in the design of working time models, if there is one. Collective agreements also usually contain statements about possible working time models.

On the basis of the restrictions that emerge from these sources, you can design the employment contracts. There you define the working time model that applies to the person in question.


Full-time means that employees work the full working hours that are customary or fixed in the industry or company. This can be 36, 37.5, 38.5 or 40 hours per week, for example.

For you, full-time employees mean a high degree of planning security and less effort for personnel planning, since you have "reserved" them contractually for the longest possible period. Of course, you are less flexible - especially when the order situation is bad, idle time can occur.

By offering your employees full-time work, they benefit from higher salaries and higher pension entitlements. In return, however, they have to accept higher deductions and less flexibility in organizing their free time.

Save time with digital working time accounts

The list of possible working time models is practically endless. On paper or in spreadsheets, you can't keep up if you use different working time models in the company. Fortunately, you can digitize working time models so that working time accounts are always up-to-date.


Part-time employees work less than comparable full-time employees. At least, this is how vague the Part-Time and Fixed-Term Employment Act is. Here, too, there are practically very many variants, for example with a weekly working time of 20, 30 or 35 hours.

When the number of hours to be worked is reduced, you naturally have more flexibility in scheduling your employees. For example, they can work on all working days, but only half days. Or they can work only a few working days, but the working days are correspondingly long.

You can also divide several employees into a full-time position so that they share their tasks independently (job sharing). This can increase motivation and productivity. In addition, you can better ensure that a position is regularly filled, even if someone is absent.

The disadvantage for you is that personnel costs and administrative expenses are higher. At the same time, employees receive less pay and less pension entitlement.

Shift work

Shift work means that the start and end of the respective working hours are adjusted according to a duty roster in order to cover the longest possible operating time. Some industries cannot function without shift work because it is essential that posts are manned at all times. These include, for example, nursing, police forces, logistics and passenger transportation. Manufacturing companies also ensure smooth production processes through shift work.

Your advantages are therefore obvious: precise resource planning, high capacity utilization and sometimes even market advantages over companies that do not realize longer operating times through shift work.

However, you must take care to ensure that employees working shifts do so in a socially acceptable manner, as health problems are more common here. Night work in particular has been proven to lead to greater physical and mental stress.

On-call service

On-call duty means that employees are at home but can be called to work at any time. Without on-call duty, many industries and organizations would not function at all. The classic use case for this is fire departments, but midwives, craftsmen and IT administrators also sometimes work on-call.

Incidentally, the minimum rest periods of the Working Hours Act also apply here, which requires well thought-out planning of the assignments. If there are cases in your company where someone has to be on the spot immediately because there is imminent danger, on-call duty might be the right working time model. However, you will usually have to pay a little more for permanent on-call duty.

Save time with digital working time accounts

The list of possible working time models is practically endless. On paper or in spreadsheets, you can't keep up if you use different working time models in the company. Fortunately, you can digitize working time models so that working time accounts are always up-to-date.


When your employees work flexitime, they decide for themselves when they work. In many companies, core working hours are set with compulsory attendance and work, and in some there are no fixed working hours at all. Everything else can be decided by the employees themselves.

Flexitime thus allows employees to flexibly postpone the start and end of work in order to better combine free time, doctor's appointments and parents' evenings with work. They can also consciously build up and reduce hours, which can benefit both them and you as an employer.

Of course, this makes both the recording of working hours and communication within the department more complex. You should also pay attention to compliance with occupational health and safety (maximum working hours, minimum break times and minimum rest times).

On the other hand, the working atmosphere and the reputation of your company among applicants benefit from the freedom to organize work independently.

Trust-based working hours

Trust working time means that you trust your employees to complete their tasks without paying attention to the actual hours worked. In case of doubt, this also means that employees work less if they complete their tasks quickly enough. This working time model is particularly suitable for project-related work, because it motivates employees to achieve their goals quickly and efficiently. Trust-based working time promotes personal responsibility.

Note: With trust-based working time, the number of working hours is also defined, but you do not control it. This also means that you leave it up to your employees to ensure that they have sufficient breaks and rest periods. However, the responsibility for ensuring that they comply with them remains with you.

If you have an increased workload, trust-based working time is a good idea, because employees also have to live with working more until their tasks are completed, without receiving any extra pay.

By the way, the obligation to record working time also applies to trust-based working time!

Long-term working time accounts

While overtime and undertime are usually compensated for in the short or medium term, long-term working time accounts are used to deliberately save up hours over a long period of time in order to then compensate for them.

For example, you can run annual working time accounts that allow you to build up overtime in the high season and reduce it in the low season. Even longer-term working time accounts are designed to enable earlier retirement or a sabbatical.

You can find more details about the different types of working time accounts in our article about the working time account.

The best working time model

... there is no such thing. The choice of working time model depends on your company structure, your industry, your legal and collective bargaining circumstances and, last but not least, on the employees themselves. Accordingly, they are probably not constant. You will always have to respond to new circumstances in the design of your company. Working time models change with it.


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.

You want to learn more?

Book a call with one of our product experts and learn how Sawayo can make your job easier - or just get started for free.