Long working days for doctors: Greece infringes on EU law
The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that Greece is in violation of EU law by allowing medical doctors to work too long without adequate rest. Greece failed to implement a maximum weekly working time of 48 hours and to make provisions for daily or compensatory rest periods.
The initial Working Time Directive of 23 November 1993 made provision in Article 5 for a minimum weekly rest period, which “shall in principle include Sunday”. On 12 November 1996 the European Court of Justice (ECJ) annulled this provision. The Court found “that the Council has failed to explain why Sunday, as a weekly rest day, is more closely connected with the health and safety of workers than any other day of the week.”
In April 2009, the revision of the Working Time Directive (2003/88/EC) had failed. The European Parliament and the Council had been unable to agree, in the context of the joint committee procedure, on a new legal text. The main point of contention at that time was the question of dealing with on-call time, multiple employment contracts and the admissibility of the opt-out arrangement. The latter allows an on-going exception to the maximum 48-hour working week.
The German alliance for a Free Sunday (which includes the ver.di trade union and the Catholic Employees Movement, KAB) has sued the city of Frankfurt, which had approved three Sunday sales. The courts confirmed the view of those in favour of a work-free Sunday and the sales were forbidden.