The EU Commission has issued a consultation on the Working Time Directive, with the aim of producing an impact assessment of options for reform. This marks a change in activity given the stalemate over recent years – in essence, there is agreement that the Directive is no longer fit for purpose, but there has been to date no agreement on how to fix it.
Here is a summary of the questions posed by the Commission’s consultation:
- The Directive should apply the 48 hour limit per worker or per employment contract (where a worker has more than one job, for example).
- Defining “on-call” time should be left to member states and their social partners (employer and trade union representatives) or codified in the Directive.
- “Stand-by” time should be codified as non-working time, or as partial working time, in the Directive together with new limits on stand-by time.
- Compensatory rest should be granted immediately or within 2/4 days.
- The 48 hour reference period should be extended (up to 12 months for all sectors).
- The opt-out should be abolished and/or stricter conditions introduced.
- The autonomous worker exemption should be clarified or narrowed or widened.
- Specific questions are also asked about the emergency services and health sector and whether the Directive needs reforming to address new working patterns including zero hour contracts, flexitime and home-working.