Exceptions to the Working Hours Act during the European Football Championship 2024

April 2024 · Estimated read time: mins

„A Soccer match lasts 90 minutes" – this well-known Soccer wisdom will experience some exceptions during the UEFA European Championship taking place in Germany in the summer of 2024, due to extra time, extensions, and penalty shootouts. The same applies to the maximum daily working hours set by the Working Hours Act. As a host, North Rhine-Westphalia plays a central role in this major event with four out of ten venues (Dort-mund, Düsseldorf, Gelsenkirchen, and Cologne). To ensure a smooth running of the UEFA EU-RO 2024, the state government has developed a temporary exemption based on § 15 para. 2 ArbZG to protect the rights of employees while ensuring the success of the tournament. We briefly outline the key points of this exemption applicable in NRW.

Scope of the regulation

The exemptions from the Working Hours Act apply for a limited period from May 15, 2024, to July 31, 2024, and exclusively for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It is expected that the labor authorities in other states (at least in the other host states Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Berlin, Hamburg, Hesse, and Saxony) will issue similar or comparable exemptions. The exemption applies to all individuals involved in the preparation, participation, execution, and follow-up of the UEFA EURO 2024, especially in the following sectors and areas:

1. Representatives, employees and agents of associations and organizations, in particular UEFA, including referees and assistant referees, players and other paid staff of the participating teams,

2. Representatives and employees of the official association and license partners

3. Representatives of the media, including technical staff and employees of the television and media partners

4. Employees of the facility management

5. Service (hospitality), security and safety personnel.

Temporary Exemptions from the Working Hours Act

The core of the exemption is the provision allowing the extension of the maximum daily working hours to a maximum of 12 hours (including Sundays and public holidays) without separate approval from the supervisory authority. However, this extension is only permitted if it is necessary due to logistical problems or an unpredictable demand and cannot be avoided through foresighted organizational measures, including necessary workforce scheduling, temporary hires, or other personnel management measures.

Furthermore, this exception only applies to work that is directly related to the content and location of UEFA EURO 2024. To ensure the protection of employees, employers must also observe the following requirements when making use of the exemption:

  • The maximum weekly working hours must not exceed 60 hours.

  • The actual start and end times of work as well as the timing and duration of rest breaks must be recorded for all affected employees. (§ 3 Paragraph 2 Number 1 ArbSchG)

  • In case of work on Sundays and public holidays, the substitute rest day must be provided within the statutory period of 14 days. (§ 11 Paragraph 3 ArbZG).

  • At least 15 Sundays per year must remain work-free. (§ 11 Paragraph 1 ArbZG).

  • All activities related to the preparation, participation, execution, and follow-up of the UEFA EURO 2024 must be identified, assessed, and documented within the framework of risk assessment according to §§ 5 and 6 ArbSchG.

  • The exemption does not apply to employees under 18 years of age, who remain subject to the provisions of the Youth Employment Protection Act. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are governed by the provisions of the Maternity Protection Act.

It should also be noted that the weekly working hours, including Sundays, must not exceed the legal maximum limit of 48 hours on average over a period of 6 calendar months or 24 weeks. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that the average working hours are reduced to the legal maximum limit of 48 hours within the compensation period following the UEFA EURO 2024. This can be achieved by granting corresponding compensatory rest days.

Also important: the exemption does not affect the co-determination rights of works or staff councils under the respective Works Constitution Act or Staff Representation Act. This means that employee representatives must be involved in any intended changes to working hours within the framework of their co-determination rights. Therefore, it is advisable to initiate discussions with employee representatives early on and to develop a common strategy for personnel deployment during the UEFA EURO 2024.

Inspections by the health and safety authorities

During UEFA EURO 2024, the occupational health and safety authorities will continue to monitor compliance with occupational health and safety regulations and, if necessary, determine any necessary supervisory measures. However, the state government in North Rhine-Westphalia is not planning any additional personnel or material resources for health and safety inspections for UEFA EURO 2024.



The UEFA EURO 2024 is approaching and will bring numerous national and international fans and guests to the stadiums and host cities. To meet the official tournament motto "United by Football. United in the heart of Europe" and to ensure the success of this major event, planning security is needed for the expected high workload around the tournament. The temporary exemptions created by the state government provide the necessary planning security and good, reliable framework conditions for the spontaneous adjustment of work processes and assignments without losing sight of labor protection. Since the state government has justified the exemptions with an urgent public interest under § 15 para. 2 ArbZG due to the size and importance of the UEFA EURO 2024, this temporary exemption cannot be easily applied to other (regional) major events.

Furthermore, the swift political and administrative implementation of the exemption shows that a lot can be achieved with the appropriate (political) will. Such a drive - even without a sporting event in the background - would also be desirable in terms of federal policy with a view to the urgently needed reform of the Working Hours Act (particularly regarding the obligation to record working hours).


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