To all German Devs - can you help me out with some employment law?
I have a TV-L E13 contract in the uni. I've been travelling a lot for work lately, and the journey is always falling on my rest days (Saturday or Sunday). Can I ask for compensation for spending 7 hours in a train on the weekend?
I would not care if it was a one time thing, but it already accumulated to a lot of days....

  • 9
    As per the law, travel time is only work time if:

    1) You mostly work during the travel time, e.g. on your laptop, or drive a car yourself because the employer has decided that you travel by car


    2) The travel happens during regular working hours.

    Unless your specific contract or a possible underlying labour agreement says otherwise (ask your work council), you're screwed. Your only option out of that is to flat out decline travels on Saturdays and Sundays to move over into case 2).

    Source material (German only, but you can use a translator): https://kupka-stillfried.de/aktuell...

    E.g. my company counts up to 10 hours of a travel as working time no matter what, but that's in the company contract, not demanded by law. That's so that people are willing to travel on Saturdays and Sundays so that the regular working week is free for the travel purpose.
  • 9
    @Fast-Nop I do work on the train because otherwise I will lose my mind from boredom. So if I read academic papers or I have pushed code to the gitlab, I can ask for it to be considered work time?

    Can they tell me that I was not *required* to work in these hours, therefore it does not count?

    I am a bit shocked that public transportation travel is considered free time. Last time I checked, DB did not have gyms/skate parks on their trains....
  • 5
    @NickyBones Yes, if you work on the train on your normal stuff, it doesn't matter whether you are on a train or whereever as long as you fulfil the work duties that you are paid for.

    While trains aren't exactly spas, you can still sit there and chill. It doesn't matter that you don't really want to be there because that's the same for the whole of the travel, but you can't count sleeping in a hotel as work time, either. Lorry drivers also are counted as on pause when they are resting in their lorries although they'd certainly prefer to be at home.

    From a legal POV, chilling in a train is like pause time, and the work law is only meant to protect workers and employees against being overworked.
  • 7
    @Fast-Nop After an intensive integration week which anyway goes overtime daily, going on a train with screaming children for 7 hours is the least chill thing I can think of. Especially with the DB-induced anxiety, of cancelled and horribly delayed trains, and the occasional sprinting between platforms with technical equipment.
  • 8
    However, remember that you are in a pretty special condition: while you can try to get your rights and may even win at a work court, you still depend on the goodwill of your prof for your PhD, both for the grade and for getting it at all.

    That's the reason why I quit uni afters my master degree. In the industry, I can just quit if my boss is a whimsy clown, but you can't do that during a PhD program.

    By subscribing to that, you also rolled in as academic slave for several years. Sad but true.
  • 6
    @Fast-Nop You're 100% right, which is why I put slavery in my rant tags :)
  • 7
    @NickyBones "sprinting between platforms with technical equipment" - see, the DB is actually a gym. ;-)

    But yeah, when I travel long distance, I always book first class because that's more bearable at least once you're in a train.
  • 6
    @Fast-Nop I would book it, but the uni does not refund it...they only pay second class.
  • 5
    good ol' phds - the cynic part of me wonders how folks can be so smart yet be readily exploited like school kids :P

    no offence I know the scene and the pressure but still
  • 6
    Fast nop explained it well, but on a side note: you can put pretty much all travel expenses into your tax return, if you do file one

    It could get you some of the costs back
  • 2
    @LotsOfCaffeine The dreaded tax return...I think a lot of expats are just too scared to try. But you are totally right.
  • 2
    @NickyBones I'm too lazy to do it as well, despite the fact that I could probably get a bunch of returns
  • 2
    While @Fast-Nop is right about the general situation, at my university (and other universities in my state), travel times count as working times (within some limits, such as only 10 hours per day).

    But this is one state. So without knowing where you are in Germany, it's hard to tell.

    The other tip is also spot on: ask your work council (Personalrat) or the administration.
  • 1
    @korrat I'm in NRW.

    I have a German friend living in Switzerland and she sent me this, which make is sound like some hours can be counted as work but yeah, complicated.

    "Bei Dienstreisen, die über die regelmäßige tägliche Arbeitszeit hinausgehen, ist ab 1. März ein Freizeitausgleich in Höhe von einem Drittel der nicht anrechenbaren Reisezeiten zu gewähren. Dies gilt auch für Reisezeiten an Samstagen, Sonntagen oder gesetzlichen Feiertagen."
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