Thursday 2. December 2021


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.

To find out more about this decision, please click here >>


European Charter of Fundamental Rights (2000)

European Union

Article 31

Fair and just working conditions

1. Every worker has the right to working conditions which respect his or her health, safety and dignity.

2. Every worker has the right to limitation of maximum working hours, to daily and weekly restperiods and to an annual period of paid leave.


Link to the Charter

European Social Charter (1961)

Council of Europe

Article 2 – The right to just conditions of work

With a view to ensuring the effective exercise of the right to just conditions of work, the Contracting Parties undertake:

  1. to ensure a weekly rest period which shall, as far as possible, coincide with the day recognised by tradition or custom in the country or region concerned as a day of rest.

Link to the European Social Charter

EU Working Time Directive (1993)

Directive 93/104/EC

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.”

Revision of the EU Working Time Directive (2011)

State of Play

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.

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Legal victory for the protection of a work-free Sunday

Frankfurt sales forbidden by courts

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.

GERMANY: No Sunday shopping at Munich jubilee celebrations

18 May 2016

A judgement by the Bavarian Administrative Court declared that shops in the central area of Munich may not open on Sunday during the festival celebrating the foundation of the city.



FRANCE: French win 'right to disconnect' from out-of-hours work emails

9 January 2017

In France, employees will be guaranteed a right to disconnect and freedom from checking emails outside normal working hours.



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