msnbc.com
updated 7/14/2010 11:59:34 AM ET 2010-07-14T15:59:34

A police officer in Germany has won an extra week off work every year because of the 15 minutes it takes him to dress for duty each day, according to news reports.

Martin Schauder, 44, worked out how long he spent putting on his undershirt, overshirt, trousers, belt, handcuffs, weapon and gas canister, tunic, boots, protective kneepads — when on riot control — hat and gloves, the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph reported.

The officer, who joined the force at 16, is said to have argued with his superior officers for a number of months, asking for time off or a pay increase to compensate him for 45 hours spent dressing each year.

They refused, but he won the argument when he took his case to an administrative court in Munster, north-west Germany, the Telegraph said.

The U.K.'s Guardian newspaper, citing Germany's Münstersche Zeitung, said Schauder told the court: "If my shift starts at 1 p.m., say, I'm expected to be completely fitted out by then, including my pistol, handcuffs and reserve weapon, otherwise I face being cautioned."

Test case for hundreds
His case was was a test complaint for more than 120 police officers in Munster and a further 1,000 in North Rhine-Westphalia, the Guardian said, but Schauder's employers will be able to appeal to a higher court.

The Guardian said it was unclear whether Schauder would receive back payment for his 28 years in the force or a holiday of six months.

Erich Rettinhaus, head of the police union in North Rhine-Westphalia, said the ruling was "long overdue," the Guardian reported.

"Until this decision, every police officer was effectively expected to sacrifice an extra 15 minutes of their own time at both ends of their shift," he said.

Joachim Wulfmeyer, a legal expert, warned of possible wider implications, the Telegraph reported.

"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," he said.

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