The widespread introduction of collective working time accounts allows companies to have flexible working hours that are very flexible, very close to changing market constraints. Moreover, collective agreements on working time accounts are further proof that the German system of conventional tariffs at the sectoral level is much more flexible and differentiated than its image. A number of collective agreements contain so-called open clauses that allow, under certain conditions, to deviate from these rates at the enterprise level. In many, but not all, cases, these differences require the agreement of the negotiating parties, who are usually trade unions and employers` organizations. The basic idea of working time accounts is that a worker can work longer or less over a period of time than is collectively agreed upon, thus collecting work time credits or expenses on an individual working time account, which are then compensated by free time or extra work. From an employer perspective, this concept has at least two essential benefits. First, it allows companies to have a more flexible production, more closely linked to market requirements. Second, because most working time credits are not counted as overtime, the employer is not required to pay regular overtime and can thereby reduce labour costs. From a workers` point of view, the use of working time accounts could be an instrument of greater “temporal sovereignty” (temporal sovereignty) that could help them to further adapt working time to their individual needs and interests. Finally, the WSI study finds that most collective agreements do not contain provisions to guarantee working time credits in the event of bankruptcy. While some agreements contain vague provisions, only the collective agreements of horticulture and agriculture provide for the creation of a special fund that could compensate for the loss of credit on working time in the event of bankruptcy.
It is said that these funds should be managed jointly by employers` and trade union organisations. According to an analysis of the WSI collective agreement archives, there are Christmas bonus agreements in most sectors.