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18:16 on Tuesday
28 October 2003

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Requirement to work overtime

The case of Wolfgang Lange v Georg Schnemann has shown that there is a general obligation on employers to inform their employees if there is a requirement to work overtime. This obligation, of course, extends to all the essential elements of the employment contract but if the nature of the job requires employees to work overtime as and when required then this must be made clear in the conditions of employment.

Mr Lange was a lathe operator whose contract specified a 40-hour week but there was no mention of overtime or a requirement to work such additional hours. When he was asked to work overtime in order to fulfil a customer order, he refused and was dismissed for doing so. At the hearing, each party gave conflicting evidence as to what Mr Lange agreed when he was recruited. As such, the German court had to decide whether or not he was in breach of his contractual terms. It was eventually ruled that essential terms must be in writing so in this case Mr Lange won his case.

This case highlights the need for correctly drafted conditions of employment that set out all the essential terms of the employment contract. 

The AP Partnership will advise on and produce such documents as part of their Employment Law Service to companies.




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