Working time

The EU working time directive protects workers’ health and safety by setting minimum standards on working hours, rest periods, paid annual leave and night work to be applied across the EU.

Following a number of attempts to revise the directive, the European Commission at the beginning of 2015 conducted a public consultation on a review of the directive. It is currently assessing possible future action.

The directive adequately protects workers’ health and safety. However, the rules are overly detailed and prescriptive, hampering companies and workers in devising workable arrangements at national, sectoral and company level. This is particularly due to excessively wide interpretation of the directive by the European Court of Justice. At the same time, business has found ways to operate within the framework of the directive, which is why we do not support a revision at this time.

If the Commission does decide to revise the directive, it must target solutions to the issues raised by ECJ rulings on on-call time and paid annual leave and avoid introducing further rigidities for the organisation of working time.


Rebekah Smith

Deputy Director
+32 2 237 65 16
Last updated: 14 September 2015