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Document 31980Y0104(01)

Council Resolution of 18 December 1979 on the adaptation of working time

IO C 2, 4.1.1980, p. 1–3 (DA, DE, EN, FR, IT, NL)

Foilsíodh an doiciméad seo in eagrán speisialta (ES, PT)

Legal status of the document In force


Council Resolution of 18 December 1979 on the adaptation of working time

Official Journal C 002 , 04/01/1980 P. 0001 - 0003
Spanish special edition: Chapter 05 Volume 2 P. 0180
Portuguese special edition Chapter 05 Volume 2 P. 0180

COUNCIL RESOLUTION of 18 December 1979 on the adaptation of working time


Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community,

Having regard to the draft resolution submitted by the Commission,

Whereas demographic trends, the prospect of moderate economic growth, the problems of adjustment resulting in particular from the rise in oil prices, the structural problems of the labour market and the progressive introduction of new technologies will exacerbate employment problems in the 1980's;

Whereas the overall strategy aimed at increasing growth potential, competitiveness and innovation, improving the employment situation and responding to the emergence of new social needs in a non-inflationary manner must be continued ; whereas measures to adapt working time might be integrated in this overall strategy as ancillary measures in support of policies to improve the employment situation;

Whereas the measures to adapt working time must also be conceived with a view to improving living and working conditions ; whereas they must contribute to improved protection at work and encourage worker participation in social and economic progress;

Whereas any costs of these measures must be kept in check and adequate consideration must be given to the manner of covering them ; whereas, in the context of negotiations between representatives of employers and workers, regard should be had to the possibility of distributing the overall increase in productivity between adaptation of working time and wage increases;

Whereas this policy cannot be considered independently of measures aimed at encouraging worker mobility and training and at facilitating the investment or changes required, notably in undertakings, in order to encourage new recruitment or avoid redundancies;

Whereas measures of this kind call for participation by workers and their representatives;

Whereas these measures are a matter for collective agreements or for national legislation ; whereas their overall coherence, particularly as regards compatibility between the attitudes of the representatives of employers and workers, should also be sought by all parties concerned within the framework of dialogue and consultation at Community level;

Taking into account the Commission's oral report on the contacts made between and with representatives of employers and workers on the adaptation of working time following the meetings of the Council on 15 May 1979 and of the Standing Committee on Employment on 22 May 1979;

Taking into account the proceedings of the Standing Committee on Employment on 9 October 1979;

Taking into account the opinion of the Economic Policy Committee of 26 October 1979, HEREBY ADOPTS THIS RESOLUTION:

The Council stresses that any measures to adapt working time should be assessed in the light of numerous factors and primarily of their effects on the production capacity of undertakings, productivity changes and wage compensation, that the possibilities of decentralization, differentiation for sectors and areas of activity and phased implementation should be taken into account in considering the measures to be taken and that there should be scope for a review of the measures taken.

It requests the Commission to pursue further the contacts made, which are essential for the implementation of the measures referred to in this resolution.

On the basis of its conclusions of 15 May 1979 and in the light of the exchanges of views which have taken place in recent months and the preliminary work carried out by the Commission, it approves the following guidelines.

A. Fields of action

1. Linked work and training

The Council has adopted a position in a separate resolution.

2. Overtime

The Council considers that: (i) limits should be applied to the systematic use of overtime, due account being taken of the necessary flexibility in the production process of the undertaking and of the situation on the labour market:

(ii) given the different situations in the Member States, provision should be made for the gradual implementation of this principle in the individual Member States, taking into account the problems which could arise in some Member States in this context for low-paid workers;

(iii) implementation should, moreover, take place in accordance with the usual procedures obtaining in each Member State, while respecting the autonomy of employers' and workers' representatives;

(iv) one appropriate method of achieving such limitation would be, for example, to introduce the principle of compensatory time-off for systematic overtime without such compensation necessarily covering all overtime worked;

(v) supervision should be organized in accordance with the procedures obtaining in each Member State.

3. Flexible retirement

The Council points out that is considers it very important that the Commission continue its work on flexible retirement.

The Council considers that flexible retirement - which should be voluntary - should be developed in conjunction with measures to facilitate a gradual withdrawal from working life at the end of the worker's career, such as part-time work and longer holidays for older workers.

4. Part-time work

The Council notes that part-time work is now a reality on the labour market, but considers that the conditions applying to it should be clarified.

It believes that a Community approach should be based on the following principles: (i) part-time work must be voluntary and open to both men and women. It must not be imposed on persons who wish to work full-time. Furthermore, particular care must be taken to ensure that part-time work is not limited to women or to relatively unskilled work;

(ii) consideration should be given to the extent to which part-time work could be made more readily available to certain groups of workers, particularly parents of young children and older workers;

(iii) part-time workers should as a rule have the same social rights and obligations as full-time workers, bearing in mind however the specific character of the work performed;

(iv) part-time work should not be limited to half-time work ; it could be on a daily, weekly or monthly basis according to the needs of different groups of workers and to those of undertakings.

5. Temporary work

The Council notes that in the majority of Member States temporary work has developed considerably over the last few years.

It considers that Community measures in support of action by Member States should be undertaken to ensure that temporary work is supervized and that temporary workers receive social protection.

6. Shift work

The Council considers that in the case of shift work the working conditions and health aspects must be borne in mind.

It further considers that the economic aspects of the problem must also be taken into consideration, particularly with regard to the competitiveness of undertakings.

7. Annual working time

The Council invites the Commission to consider, with representatives of employers and workers, how a Community approach on the subject of a reduction in annual working time could be formulated. This approach could, where appropriate, be taken into account in agreements at national, inter-trade or sectoral level.

It asks that such an approach should bear in mind both the improvement of working conditions and the need to avoid redundancies and encourage new recruitment.

The need to preserve conditions of competition and to curb the effects on labour costs of reducing annual working time should likewise be borne in mind.

Account should also be taken in such an approach of the series of initiatives that might be taken on the adaptation of working time, particularly in the light of the above guidelines.

B. Final provisions

1. In the light of the progress achieved with regard to the different aspects of the adaptation of working time referred to in this resolution, the Council, recalling the conclusions reached by the European Council in Paris on 12 and 13 March 1979, asks the Commission to present: - its conclusions on the possibilities for developing a Community approach as regards limiting the systematic use of overtime and reducing actual annual working time in the Community;

- specific communications on flexible retirement, part-time work and temporary work.

2. In addition, the Council invites: - the Commission to continue wide-ranging consultations with representatives of employers and workers on the subject of adaptation of working-time;

- the representatives of employers and workers to continue and strengthen their contacts at Community level, to assist the efforts of the Council and the Commission and to continue their action in the Member States within the framework of their own responsibilities.

These consultations and contacts should lead to the formulation of a Community approach making for overall coherence and fostering consensus at Community level.