Currently the top answer to this question has at least one answer, a Law SE answer and a few comments with sources (buried by move-to-chat) that suggest that it is factually wrong. The issue that the answers are making only really address the legal issue (if there actually is one), which doesn't belong on TWP.

How should this have been handled?

As a second part, there are two answers claiming opposite things, but only one can be true. Who is supposed to intervene here?


(Disclaimer: I wrote one of the answers)

Given that all answers are free to quote and link sources, I think it's fair to let the votes decide. Would it be better if all voters were educated in German labor law and had this specific case been decided in court? Sure. But that's not how this site works, because there would be no site then.

I think the other answer would have more credibility (and votes) if it actually cited primary sources. All it does is reiterate hearsay, and it even gets the small details wrong that are easy to look up and fact check (45 vs 60 minutes, 11 vs 12 hours). I'm not saying it's factually wrong overall, but if it lacks sources and has mistakes in the parts that are dead easy to verify, then it's hard to trust that the main argument is sound, just based on "believe me, someone biased told me this is true".

I quoted the law. Anyone who thinks my interpretation is wrong can just downvote the answer.

You can also open another question somewhere (don't know if law.SE would find it on topic) to ask if there are court decisions on this. I have certainly seen scumbags try that interpretation, but I have never seen it reach court because people (like the OP) would either say "bye, I'm going to get a better job" or "damn, I have to eat this, I cannot get another job". So if you can find a primary source on this, I'm happy to read it. All we have now are people saying "but it happens!". Yes. It does. Robberies also happen. Every day. Does not make it legal.

As far as the theory that the guy misunderstood something? Maybe. It's as good a guess as any, but having seen German working contracts, I doubt that the company provided them with the office hours, but not the working hours. It's not impossible, but it's certainly less probable than a "start up" trying to get their employees to work overtime. So I can only take the OPs word that the question as asked is actually their question.

  • I would prefer to let facts decide, not votes.
    – Mars
    Nov 20 '19 at 7:35
  • Then present some? For someone who wants facts, you are very short on those. I interpreted the law I quoted. I'm not a lawyer, I might be wrong. But I'm not convinced, just because another "not a lawyer" on the internet says I'm wrong, without even citing sources other than "I heard from my employer...". That's like saying the united robbers associated told me it's okay to be mugged. That's not facts.
    – nvoigt
    Nov 20 '19 at 8:15
  • I think I presented some, as a comment, on your post. But that's irrelevant--this post is to discuss the scenario where two parties are claiming "facts", but there is no one readily available to determine which is fact.
    – Mars
    Nov 20 '19 at 8:23
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    I that case, the concept of SE is to let the votes decide, because we trust them to be experts. Might not be the best solution, but it's the one we have.
    – nvoigt
    Nov 20 '19 at 8:31
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    I think truth should take precedent over votes. As a community, we have a responsibility to prevent the propagation of false knowledge. Note that I'm not attacking your answer (in this post). I fully believe that if your post is actually correct, then we should delete, or at least actively disprove ,the other posts.
    – Mars
    Nov 20 '19 at 8:38
  • Who would be the final arbiter of what is "correct" and what needs to be deleted? I'm quite happy that there is no such overlord. I have a very similar answer about break times on another site and the answer with more votes is flat out wrong. Not "see what the lawyer says"-wrong, but like easily googleable wrong. But it still stands and it still has more votes. That's the nature of SE. Sometimes, the most helpful answer is not the one with the most votes.
    – nvoigt
    Nov 20 '19 at 9:08
  • So do we give up and accept the stupidity of mankind, or do we try to make the world a tiny bit better place?
    – Mars
    Nov 20 '19 at 9:10
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    I don't know who the arbiter is or should be, hence why I'm asking. Personally, I think this either should have been converted to a legal question, or the legality of it should have been ignored completely
    – Mars
    Nov 20 '19 at 9:11
  • I will make the world a better place by reading your latest comment on the matter and accepting the fact that I might be wrong (didn't have the time yet). I will not accept a random authority deleting my posts based on their understanding of the subject matter. If that happens, SE is dead and I'm gone. BTW: there are a few SE sites that work that way and I have turned my back on them. May they stew in what they think is "right", I'd rather read all posts and decide that for myself.
    – nvoigt
    Nov 20 '19 at 9:36
  • I recognize that there is a lot of potential for that kind of moderating to go wrong. That's why I brought it up on meta! Sorry in advance for my link by the way. I may have understood who the source is!
    – Mars
    Nov 20 '19 at 9:58
  • PS, I also opened this, to determine the answer once and for all
    – Mars
    Nov 20 '19 at 10:03

This is another answer because it's a different issue and should be considered independently of people being right or wrong on the internet.

The issue that the answers are making only really address the legal issue (if there actually is one), which doesn't belong on TWP.

Just because something is connected to the law, does not make it off-topic here.

The general consensus here (For Reference consult this or this or any of the others when you put "legal" in the search) is that anything that a professional HR member should know is fair game, while anything you need a lawyer for is not.

If you look at §16 of the law in question:

§ 16 Aushang und Arbeitszeitnachweise

(1) Der Arbeitgeber ist verpflichtet, einen Abdruck dieses Gesetzes, der auf Grund dieses Gesetzes erlassenen, für den Betrieb geltenden Rechtsverordnungen und der für den Betrieb geltenden Tarifverträge und Betriebs- oder Dienstvereinbarungen im Sinne des § 7 Abs. 1 bis 3, §§ 12 und 21a Abs. 6 an geeigneter Stelle im Betrieb zur Einsichtnahme auszulegen oder auszuhängen.

The employer is required by law to make this law or it's specific exceptions available to every employee by publicly displaying it. In addition, every professional education in Germany teaches this. Every course on management or training apprentices in Germany teaches this. The only way having a job and not having heard of this is to go into academia education-wise and then don't care for what you sign when you get a job. This is not some obscure law people never heard about. This is part of everyday German professional life.

Now you could argue that since we don't agree on what it says, it should need a lawyer. But as a matter of fact, we do agree that the answer to the question is that 11 hour days would be illegal. By your reading, by my reading, by the other answers reading of the law. We all agree on that. So I guess there really is no need for a lawyer as far as the answer to the question is concerned.


The standard for TWP, with regards to legal advice is that it is not off topic if it is easily answerable from someone who has a level of knowledge equal to what someone in HR could answer.

I.E. "Can my boss fire me because he doesn't like the fact that I'm autistic, and can go into too much detail." or "I'm hearing impaired, and my boss won't let me have a light for my phone, because he says it's "distracting"

Both are legal questions, but someone with even a rudimentary knowledge of HR can answer them.

The same holds true for interpersonal issues at the workplace being on topic here, the same thing holds true for members of academia with workplace issues can have on topic questions here.

There is always going to be some overlap, and quite frankly, we close too many questions as it is.


If there is any doubt, it's usually best to just upvote my answer and try and get the rest deleted. Not being a lawyer, I don't do legal.


there are two answers claiming opposite things, but only one can be true. Who is supposed to intervene here?

You, me, and everyone. Our votes are what help to separate the good answers from the bad.

If you find two contradicting answers, up-vote the one you agree with and down-vote the one you disagree with.

  • 1
    Then I think we failed, as the #1 answer's two main premises (one already edited out for being wrong) are incorrect.
    – Mars
    Nov 22 '19 at 0:06
  • @Mars then you comment on that answer, flag it, or provide one of your own, making a stronger argument for why you are right. Nov 22 '19 at 13:43
  • @RichardSaysReinstateMonica Do you honestly believe that an argument in the comments will undo the 120+ upvotes given during HNQ time, while showing incorrect info?
    – Mars
    Nov 22 '19 at 17:22
  • @Mars You can always provide an alternative answer. I find that is the best bulwark against nonsense. That's how I got all of these worthless reputation points, by assertively offering my own opinions in answers, supported by facts and examples wherever possible. Then, you accept the fact that the community, not any single one of us, regardless of reputation, decides on the answer. As for what I believe? Precious little. I gave you several options, only one of which was commenting. Chose which one works for you. Nov 22 '19 at 17:29
  • @RichardSaysReinstateMonica Sorry, you did give me several options. I didn't want to flag it, because that would be the moderating that the poster of the answer said would make them quit SE outright. Instead, I chose to open a discussion which is yet to yield results that satisfy me. But it's a lesson learned for me--high votes does not equal factual correctness!
    – Mars
    Nov 22 '19 at 17:33
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    @Mars Oh, that's a lesson well learned, I can assure you. SE is essentially a controlled mob. and I've learned several things: 1)The quality of answers for TWP tend to decay the further you get from US based IT work. 2)IT people tend to forget that competence in one area does not guarantee competence in another. 3)Advice for India is particularly atrocious. 4)Americans give bad advice to Europeans. 5)Europeans give bad advice to Americans. Nov 22 '19 at 17:39
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    @Mars whenever I see a question related to blue collar work, or disabilities, I tend to jump in because many of those answers are ill advised. This is really the best thing that you can do: jump in when your area of expertise is of use to counter the Dunning-Kruger effect Other than that, not too much else to be done Nov 22 '19 at 17:41
  • @RichardSaysReinstateMonica I know you jump in and I usually read a question, go "oh, this is definitely a Richard question, scroll down and find you with the top answer, or an answer rising quickly! I hope you don't get as discouraged as me :)
    – Mars
    Nov 22 '19 at 18:06
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    @Mars You have a good deal to offer. Don't be discouraged, just don't get caught up in the minutia. It will only frustrate you. Nov 22 '19 at 19:59

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