Sharing the available stock of work more fairly is a popular concern in the public policy debate. One policy proposal is to reduce overtime work in order to allow the employment of more people. This paper suggests that such a concept faces major problems. Using Germany as a case study, it is shown that the group of workers with the highest risks of becoming unemployed, namely the unskilled, also exhibit low levels of overtime work. Those who work overtime, namely the skilled, face excess demand on the labour market. Since skilled and unskilled workers are largely complements in production, a general reduction in overtime will lead to less production and hence also to a decline in the level of unskilled employment. The paper provides empirical support for this line of argument. It is also shown that paid overtime work has lost relative importance over time.
Hours of work overtime working overtime compensation