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Organisation of working time

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Organisation of working time

SUMMARY OF:

Directive 2003/88/EC – certain aspects of the organisation of working time

SUMMARY

WHAT DOES THIS DIRECTIVE DO?

It sets out minimum working time health and safety requirements for employees. These cover:

  • minimum periods of daily and weekly rest, annual leave, breaks and maximum weekly working time
  • aspects of night and shift work.

KEY POINTS

EU countries

  • EU countries must ensure employees are entitled to:
    • a minimum daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours in every 24
    • a rest break in any working day longer than 6 hours
    • an uninterrupted 24 hour rest period every 7 days, in addition to the daily 11 hours
    • at least 4 weeks paid annual leave
    • a maximum average working week of 48 hours, including overtime, over 7 days.
  • Normal night work should be no more than 8 hours on average in any 24-hour period.
  • Night workers are entitled to free health checks at regular intervals.

National authorities

  • National authorities may:
    • use reference periods, ranging from 14 days to 4 months, to calculate weekly rest periods and maximum working time
    • exempt managing executives, other senior decision makers, family workers and religious officials from the legislation.
  • Exemption from the legislation may also apply for any of the following:
    • security and surveillance activities requiring a permanent presence to protect people or property
    • continuity of service or production in areas such as hospitals, docks, airports, the media and agriculture
    • a foreseeable surge of activity (notably agriculture, tourism, postal services, railways, accidents)
    • derogations agreed in collective agreements between employers and employees.
  • The legislation does not apply to mobile workers (anyone transporting passengers or goods by road, air or inland waterways) or seafarers.
  • EU countries may apply more favourable health and safety provisions if they wish.

In Case C-266/14, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that, where workers do not have a fixed or habitual place of work, the time they spend travelling each day between their homes and the premises of the first and last customers designated by their employer constitutes working time within the meaning of the directive.

FROM WHEN DOES THE DIRECTIVE APPLY?

It entered into force on 2 August 2004.

BACKGROUND

Working Conditions - Working Time Directive

ACT

Directive 2003/88/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 November 2003 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time (OJ L 299, 18.11.2003, pp. 9–19)

RELATED ACTS

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee, and the Committee of the Regions: Reviewing the Working Time Directive (first-phase consultation of the social partners at European Union level under Article 154 of the TFEU) (COM(2010) 106 final of 24.3.2010)

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Reviewing the Working Time Directive (Second-phase consultation of the social partners at European Union level under Article 154 TFEU) (COM(2010) 801 final of 21.12.2010)

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on implementation by Member States of Directive 2003/88/EC (‘The Working Time Directive’) (COM(2010) 802 final of 21.12.2010)

last update 12.01.2016

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