In a vote on the revised working time directive the European Parliament is likely to back the scrapping of the controversial ‘opt-out’ clause, which is mainly used in the UK.
Under the existing system, individuals can sign an agreement with their employers to opt out of the directive, choosing their own schedule outside the 48 hour time-limit. The UK is the only member state to currently operate this across a range of sectors. Other states allow it for particular sectors, such as hotel and health workers. The Commission proposal adds safeguards to the opt-out to avoid employer pressure: that it must not be signed at the same time as the employment contract and workers who refuse to sign may not suffer any detriment.
Definition of ‘on-call’
The Commission proposal would not count time spent on-call but not actually working as ‘working time’ even if the employee must remain in the workplace.
Currently the time period used for calculating average working time is four months: the Commission proposes extending this to 12 months.