EU – Working Time Directive

Global Compliance Guide

Labor Requirements

The Working Time Directive (WTD) is an EU legislation which requires the EU Member States to guarantee certain rights for workers. It sets out the requirements relating to working hours, rest breaks and annual leave with the intention to support the health and safety of workers. As per the WTD, employers are required to establish an objective, reliable and accessible system to measure the duration of time worked each day by each worker.

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

The period of weekly working time is limited by means of laws, regulations or administrative provisions or by collective agreements or agreements between the two sides of the industry. The average working time for each seven-day period, including overtime, does not exceed 48 hours. Art 6 of the Working Time Directive. 

 

Reference Periods
Member States may lay down:

      • For the application of the weekly rest period, a reference period not exceeding 14 days;
      • For the application of maximum weekly working time, a reference period not exceeding 4 months.

The periods of paid annual leave, granted, and the periods of sick leave shall not be included or shall be neutral in the calculation of the average:

        • For the application of length of night work, a reference period defined after consultation of the two sides of industry or by collective agreements or agreements concluded between the two sides of the industry at the national or regional level.
        • If the minimum weekly rest period of 24 hours falls within that reference period, it shall not be included in the calculation of the average.

Art 16 of the Working Time Directive. 

 

Opt-out Option

 

Derogation that Refers to a  Specific Category of Workers or to a Sector
Member States may derogate from the rules on maximum weekly working time, minimum daily rest, breaks, minimum weekly rest and the length of night work.

 

Individual Opt-Out
Member States may allow an individual worker to opt-out from maximum weekly working time subject to strict conditions on the worker’s consent, in particular, the fact that he/she should not suffer any detriment if he/she refuses to opt-out, and to specific provisions on retaining records of opt-out decisions

Night Work

Length of Night Work

Employers are required to ensure that:

      • Normal hours of work for night workers do not exceed an average of 8 hours in any 24-hour period;
      • Night workers must not perform heavy or dangerous work for longer than 8 hours in any 24-hour period,
      • Night workers have the right to free health assessments and, under certain circumstances, to transfer to day work.

Notification of Regular Use of Night Workers

To ensure that an employer who regularly uses night workers brings this information to the attention of the competent authorities if they so request. Art 8 – 13 of the Working Time Directive.

Breaks

Where the working day is longer than 6 hours, every worker is entitled to a rest break, the details of which, including duration and the terms on which it is granted, shall be laid down in collective agreements or agreements between the two sides of industry or, failing that, by national legislation. Art 3 of the Working Time Directive.

Work On Rest Days

Every worker is entitled to a minimum daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours per 24-hour period. Art 4 of the Working Time Directive.

Every worker is entitled to a minimum uninterrupted rest period of 24 hours plus the 11 hours daily rest per each seven-day period.  Art 5 of the Working Time Directive.

 

Compensatory Rest

Minimum daily and weekly rests may be delayed in whole or part, but only on the condition that the missed rest hours are made up in full afterward. The Directive does not, however, specify within what time frame that should be done.

Annual Leave

Every worker is entitled to paid annual leave of at least 4 weeks in accordance with the conditions for entitlement to, and granting of, such leave laid down by national legislation and/or practice. The minimum period of paid annual leave may not be replaced by an allowance in lieu, except where the employment relationship is terminated. Art 7 of the Working Time Directive. 

Last updated on: November 22nd, 2019