Working Time Directive – 48 hour opt out and ´on-call´ hours

In December 2008, the European
Parliament voted to end the Working Time Directive 48 hour opt out. This would have meant
the phasing out of the opt-out over a three-year period. The Council of Ministers however
continued to support the retention of the opt-out. For any amendments to be adopted it was
necessary for both the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers to agree and approve
any changes.

A conciliation committee of the Commission, Parliament and the Council held
a series of discussions to seek a mutually acceptable text for the revision of the Directive.
No agreement was reached.

As a result of the above, proposals to introduce changes have failed.
For the UK this means that the 48-hour opt-out will remain. The above actions have been the
last opportunity to introduce any changes before the European elections to be held in June
2009. For any future changes to be introduced now, it would be necessary for the Commission
to submit new proposals in order to start the process again.

The proposals under consideration
held wider implications than the removal of the 48-hour opt-out. The proposals also considered
changes to the definition of ´on-call´ hours to be included as working time. At the present
time the Directive considers active on-call to be included in working time. Active on-call
is defined as the time that the worker is required to be available at their place of work.
The Council thinks this should continue to be the case but the Parliament says that the definition
of working hours should be widened to include ´inactive on-call´, which is the time a worker
is on call, but not required to be at their place of work. As with the 48-hour opt-out, no
agreement was reached between Council and Parliament hence the current position of only ´active
on-call´ being included will remain.

However, to comply withy the opt-out businesses must
be able to prove the hours worked by employees and the legislation says "a paperwork system
is not enough". Hence, the need to install a Time & Attendance
system such as WinTA lite to cost effectively comply with the Directive.

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