Working Time Directive – EU member states reach agreement on outstanding issuesMonday, June 23rd, 2008
On 10 June, agreement was reached by the EU Employment and Social Affairs Council on the longstanding issues of the Working Time Directive.
The Directive amending the existing directive on Working Time has been on the table since 2005. Many Member ec.States are in breach of the legislation as interpreted by the European Court of Justice. The UK’s opt-out from the 48-hour average working week expired on 23 November 2003 and has been operated in breach of the Directive since then. Many attempts have been made by EU ministers to find a compromise agreement on, in particular, the opt-out and the treatment of on-call time since then.
The main points of agreement in the Working Time Directive are:
- on-call time to be split into active and inactive on-call time. Active on-call time to be counted as working time
- inactive on-call time may not be counted as rest time and can be counted as working time if national laws or social partners agree
- standard maximum limit remains at 48 working hours per week unless an individual worker chooses otherwise (opt-out)
- new protective limit (cap) for workers who opt out: maximum working week of 60 hours unless social partners agree otherwise
- new cap for workers who opt-out if inactive on-call time is counted as working time: maximum working week of 65 hours
- the cap protects all workers employed for longer than 10 weeks with one employer
- opt-out only under certain conditions, such as:
- no signature during first month of employment
- no victimisation for not signing or withdrawing opt-out
- employers must keep records on working hours of opted-out workers.
The agreement is now subject to approval by the European Parliament. It should be noted that the last time that the European Parliament considered the future of the opt-out, in February 2004, it voted by a large majority for the opt-out to be phased-out. No such phasing-out arrangements are included in the new proposals.
Commission welcomes agreements on working time and temporary agency workers
Commission strongly welcomes today’s political agreement on Working Time and Working conditions for Temporary Agency Workers
View the previous news item for Working Time Regulations
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