German policeman wins extra week of holiday for time spent getting dressed

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Photo: EPA

Martin Schauder, 44, calculated to the second how long it took to don his regulation undershirt, trousers, thruncheon-holding belt, handcuffs, weapon and gas canister, overshirt, tunic, boots, protective kneepads (when on riot control), hat and gloves.

He claimed it took 15 minutes each morning outside his paid shift hours to get dressed, and 15 minutes at the end of each shift to undress, which a M√ľnster administrative court agreed constituted overtime.

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The officer in the north-west German city had argued with his superiors for months, demanding either getting a pay rise or time off in lieu for what he said amounted to 45 hours of his time he was giving to his employers each year. They refused on both counts, saying it was part of his duties as a policeman.

So he took the force to the city’s administrative court – and won.

The decision has prompted fears that German courts may face a raft of similar lawsuits.

“We could, in theory, have judges arguing for extra time off because of the amount of time it takes them to robe up, or receptionists claiming overtime for lipstick application as they have to look good for clients,” said Joachim Wulfmeyer, legal expert.

Officer Schauder’s case was a test complaint representing over 120 other officers; granting them all the extra paid week’s leave that he is entitled to would seriously challenge the city’s police budget at a time of rigid cutbacks.

His employers will have a chance to appeal the ruling in a higher court.

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