Imagine your intern standing in your office in early April saying, “Today is my last day at work.” Reportedly, with the rest of the holiday and overtime collected, he has enough days off not to have until the end of July, when the contract expires to get more people into the business.
He has meticulously documented his overtime. But as a coach, he did not inform you in advance about the amount of extra work. You did not even write down the apprentice’s overtime. Although the intern does not let go so easily, the relationship between you and your intern is permanently disrupted.
Education consultant Eva Niederdalhoff from Nordrhein-Westfalen Landbrugskammer explains what overtime really is and what you need to be aware of during your apprenticeship.
Wochenblatt: In the agricultural education, there is especially now overtime during the harvest. When else?
Niederdalhoff: There are always phases where the work with deadline pressure coincides, eg when sowing in spring and autumn. Here, many activities in the field can only be performed under certain weather and soil conditions. There is often not much time. Even when working in the barn, time can be scarce, for example when moving in and out of the barn.
The transitions between leisure and working time can be fluid. How exactly do you define overtime?
Niederdalhoff: By law, an employee works overtime if the contractual or contractually agreed working hours are exceeded. In agriculture, it is generally difficult to clearly define working hours. Is the conversation at the table when it comes to planning the next work steps, working time? Is it working time when the farmer meets a neighbor or professional colleague and you exchange views on current topics?
It is giving and taking. If I have a coach who takes the time to explain and illuminate contexts, it can sometimes take longer and the tasks that arise still need to be solved. If you want to learn something, you can of course also come to the fair, even if the day is two to three hours longer. Many interns also find it very appreciative as they are allowed to follow the coach to important appointments.
Anyone who is educated in agriculture should be enthusiastic about the subject. But if you want a clearly defined working day of eight hours, you should reconsider the education in agriculture.
Is it not difficult, especially for those who live on the farm, to distinguish between leisure and working time?
Niederdalhoff: Yes it’s true. Although many interns no longer live in the companies, the transitions are even easier for those who have decided to do so. Here, time registration is often not a problem, the trainee runs with as part of the family and is even more involved.
Does it make sense to document overtime? If so how?
Niederdalhoff: Both parties should consider together how they will proceed. I can only recommend that you regularly exchange ideas with each other and jointly record when and where overtime has taken place.
If overtime is not registered in writing, the trainee must still write it down for himself.
As a starting point, the Working Hours Act applies: According to this, the employer is obliged to register the employees’ working hours beyond the working day and keep a list of the employees who have agreed to an extension of working hours. The evidence must be kept for at least two years.
Should overtime be remunerated, or should the intern have time instead?
Niederdalhoff: Here, too, the parties involved should discuss in advance how this can be regulated. On the other hand, when it comes to trainees who are minors, it is clear: they need to be compensated in time.
Who can interns contact if there is too much overtime?
Niederdalhoff: The employer is responsible for compliance with the Youth Employment Protection Act. The district government is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Youth Employment Protection Act. LWK’s training advisors are responsible for general issues.
If we are involved in individual cases, it is difficult for us to judge what happened in the companies, but we can moderate ourselves neutrally. It is important to talk to the boss or coach quickly and find solutions together.
review the checklist
Before the training starts or within the first days, both sides must review a checklist again, coordinate it with the student’s parents and, if necessary, record what has been discussed and sign on both sides, otherwise a rude awakening may occur. during the training.
You can find a guide on the Agricultural Chamber’s website. Topics for discussion are suggested here. Important points are the working hours during the harvest and after the vocational school, compensation and documentation for overtime, but also remuneration and times for keeping a report book.