The Council of the European Union has published its proposals to amend the Working Time Directive. As regards the right of individuals to opt-out of the 48 hour working week, it is proposed that workers will be required to renew their opt-out after a year (or less, if provided by national law) otherwise it will lapse. In addition, an opt-out will be void if signed at the same time as an employment contract or within 4 weeks of starting work. There will be some changes to the opt-in and opt-out procedure and no worker will be able to work more than 60 hours a week averaged over 3 months unless permitted in a collective agreement or agreement between social partners. Furthermore, working time plus inactive on-call time will not be able to exceed 65 hours a week averaged over 3 months, unless permitted in a collective agreement. “Inactive on-call time” is on-call time during which the worker is not required “effectively to carry out his activity or duties”. The proposed amendments to the Directive also envisage that inactive on-call time will no longer be considered working time.

These changes are not “set in stone”, as proposed wording will now be debated by the European Parliament and may well be amended before adoption at a future meeting of the Council of Ministers.

Click here for proposals.