The dilemma of the weekend

In a previous series, we have already discussed the risk of postings at the weekend and demonstrated how postings of this type can be identified in SAP. However, we did not take into account that not all weekends are the same. These days, a large number of companies have units to be audited abroad, or conduct international business, and the question then arises: When exactly is the weekend and what differences are there? This is what we are going to take a look at it in this post, and as you will see, there’s definitely something for everyone.

The weekend around the world

Let’s start our journey, close to home, with an example from Germany. You almost certainly won’t be the first person to wonder when it is not permitted to use parking spaces marked with the following sign:

german traffic sign parking restriction
German sign saying: work days 7am to 2pm

Can I park here on Saturday or not?

The answer is not as simple as one would expect. In March 2001, the Higher Regional Court of Hamm ruled that Saturday is a working day (Werktag) in “general parlance”. It should be noted that, in German, there are two different words for working day (Werktag and Arbeitstag) which are not quite the same. In Germany, therefore, working days (Werktage) are from Monday to Saturday inclusive and therefore actually only Sunday is a rest day and thus, strictly speaking, also a weekend. Incidentally, this regulation has its origin in the Christian Church, which stipulates that Sunday is a day of rest.

That brings us to the first dilemma. The majority of employees would probably be outraged if the boss were to declare Saturday a working day (Arbeitstag) with immediate effect. For others, such as doctors, medical assistants, but also employees in the supermarket, however, this is quite commonplace. Other departments, however, such as accounting or bookkeeping, are probably not staffed on Saturdays. This shows very quickly that the distinction between the working day as Werktag and the working day as Arbeitstag is not so trivial, can often be somewhat fluid, and thus can often lead to confusion.

In standardized data analyses, such as the ones we offer, however, one must commit oneself to certain parameters, which is why we have defined Saturday and Sunday as the weekend.

But what is the situation like in other countries?

Due to the influence of religious faiths, there are different definitions of weekends and rest days in different countries. So it happens more often than one might think that Friday or Saturday are considered to be a day of rest.

However, things really start to get interesting in some countries of the Middle East. There it is sometimes the case that there simply are no national regulations that determine what is a day of rest in the first place. In some cases, there may even be different regulations within the same country and it all depends on the local religious orientation.

However, religious origin is also not something that is set in stone. For example, there are countries such as Lebanon, where about 60% of the inhabitants are Muslims, but Saturday and Sunday have been declared as non-working days. However, there is one exception for all those who wish to take part in midday prayer on Fridays. In this case, a break is granted.

In India, the boundaries are even more unclear. Since 1942, the Weekly Holiday Act has been in force there, requiring companies to grant their employees one day a week as a day off. However, the law does not define any particular fixed day.

Based on the results we were able to find with our own research, we have compiled a list of countries where workdays and the weekend/days of rest differ from the standard definition of workdays used in zap Audit:

Most Muslim countriesFriday
Some countries of the Middle EastThursday
United Arab EmiratesSaturday
BruneiFriday and Sunday
MalaysiaFriday and Saturday or Saturday and Sunday depending on the region

Curiosities in Europe

According to a ruling by the European Court of Justice, the weekly rest day in Europe is not bound to a certain day of the week. The judgment merely stipulates that a rest day must be taken on any day within a period of seven days. However, national legislation can set its own rest days, so a ruling by the ECJ has no effect. However, such judgments should be considered very carefully, especially in times of the new economy, where there are ever increasing demands for flexible working hours and remote workplaces. Start-ups and small companies in particular are increasingly moving towards result-oriented work and giving employees the freedom to work when and where they want. SAP recently announced that the 22,000 employees in Germany will be able to decide for themselves where they want to work in the future.


So the moral of the story is: Not all weekends are the same and, as it is so often the case: “It all depends”. As an auditor, you should therefore make detailed contact with the unit to be audited before an audit in order to identify any possible difference in working days and to be able to respond accordingly. Some time ago we already wrote a suitable manual for the analysis of “postings during weekends”, which we have adapted for use on a Hana database.

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