“ News ”

11th June 2013

Working Time Directive

After nearly one year of negotiations, no compromise has been found on the revision of the Working Time Directive


The ETUC and employers of BusinessEurope, UEAPME and CEEP have acknowledged this setback which is a blow to European social dialogue.


The only point of agreement concerns the issue of on-call work and the limitation, and subsequently, the phasing out of the use of the op-out, which allows Members States to derogate from the 48 hour weekly working time limit through an individual agreement between the employee and the employer. This derogation, which was obtained by the UK in 1991, is now used fully by five member states and partially by 12 member states.


Employers wanted to keep this derogation as a permanent feature of the directive, although at the time, it was supposed to be temporary.

The SMEs also asked for the reference period for calculation the 48 hour limit to be raised from 3 to 12 months.


Risk of deregulation


The ball is now in the court of the European Commission, which should, at least, settle the legal uncertainty about on-call duty. Nevertheless, there is also a risk that the Commission, in its liberal version, will propose to scrap this directive that protects the health and safety of workers and therefore make the management of working time a national issue. This is a dramatic deregulation of the European area.



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