EU not to revise the Working Time Directive

The European Commission notified the social partners that there will be no legislative revision of the Working Time Directive. Instead, the Commission announced an ‘Interpretative communication’ to bring more clarity about the proper application of the legislative piece. CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger welcomed the plans of the European Commission but stressed that the directive is, in its current form, far from satisfactory for many workers.

The interpretative communication is expected in March, as a measure to complement the forthcoming European Pillar of Social Rights.

According the European Commission, the aim of the interpretative communication is to bring legal clarity and certainty to the Member States and social partners when applying the working time directive, including clarifying the scope for flexibility and derogations in its application, and to assist Member States in implementing the directive in a way that minimises burdens and avoids infringements. To that end, the document is expected to compile the provisions arising from both the text of the directive and its interpretation through relevant case-law of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in a single document in order to make them clearer, more readable and accessible to all.

CESI is not satisfied with the current working time rules as set by the Working Time Directive but fears that a legislative revision might bring even lower levels of protection for workers against overtime and excessive working hours. CESI still welcomes the forthcoming interpretative communication.

In its recent position paper on the European Pillar of Social Rights, one of CESI’s main priorities was the proper implementation and application of existing EU rules.

CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger said: “CESI is closely following this dossier, which is a priority for many of our member organisations. Many workers across Europe continue to be affected by ill-applied flexibility and derogation clauses of the Working Time Directive. During the last years, more than 50 judgments of the Court of Justice have interpreted the provisions of the directive. This has made it hard to keep an overview in terms of the applicable personal scope, definition of working time or on-call time, the timing of compensatory rest or paid annual leave. I hope the forthcoming communication will make it easier for trade unions and authorities to address improper applications of the Directive.”

Picture: CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger © CESI 2017