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European Sunday Alliance

News about the Working Time Directive

For the European Sunday Alliance (ESA) the EU Working Time directive (2003/88/EG) was and has been always a centre of advocacy. The protection of Sunday was a part of this directive in its early stages, but removed later on. On 26 April 2017 the European Commission has published an Interpretative Communication (click for link to PDF download) concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time. The Communication seeks to create and strengthen legal certainty, reflecting more than 50 court decisions on this matter of the European Court of Justice since 1993.

For the ESA it is interesting to recognise that the question of the Sunday is at least taken up in the Communication, which can be seen as a positive result of the advocacy work of the ESA in Brussels. In article 5, the Directive defines the right of an uninterrupted rest period of 35 hours. The Communication recalls that in the Directive from 1993 the Sunday was included in Art 5 – “The minimum rest period referred to in the first subparagraph shall in principle include Sunday” – but the European Court of Justice has annulled this provision because of a missing legal basis in the EU Treaties. The Interpretative Communication highlights that Sunday is still the normal day of rest in half of the EU Member States: Belgium (private sector), Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Greece, France, Croatia, Italy, Luxembourg, Austria, Portugal, Romania, and Slovakia.

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