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EU Raises Working Week To 65 Hours



Following 3 years of tough negotiations, the Employment Ministers of EU member states have reached an agreement to allow for a work week of up to 65 hours or more. After long talks and with France and Italy changing their stance under Sarkozy and Berlusconi, a political agreement was reached on a 13-hour working day. On-call time is divided into active non active, with only the latter being remunerated.


Employers will be able to opt-out from the 48-hour working week, allowing for the working time to be extended based on an individual agreement with employees. The Slovenian Presidencys intervention introduced the obligatory ratification of the individual agreement through a collective agreement.


The 48-hour week will thus be undermined by the opt-out rights of employers. The working week will have a limit of 60 hours (calculated on a three-month basis), except if social partners decide otherwise.

Furthermore, according to the new bill, employers will be able to keep employees on-call (within the working premises or elsewhere) without the latter being remunerated for the time during which they do not offer their services.

European trade unions place their hopes on the European Parliament, which has to decide on the approval of the decision.

When both the opt-out and inactive on-call duty provisions are implemented, the working week can rise up to 65 hours.

These limits apply to any employee occupied by the same employer for a time period of at least 10 months. An 11-hour interval between two working periods is the only guarantee for workers. This means that an employee may work up to 13 hours daily, leading to a 65-hour working week for a 5-day job or to a 78-hour working week at a 6-day job.

The decision was adopted with Greece, Belgium, Hungary, Spain and Cyprus criticising it.

Roula Salourou

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