Public consultation on the review of the Working Time Directive consultation

About this consultation

The organisation and regulation of working time in the public and private sector has considerable social, economic and political impact. At EU level, Directive 2003/88/EC (the Working Time Directive) aims at providing minimum standards common to all Member States for protecting workers from health and safety risks associated with excessive or inappropriate working hours, and with inadequate time for rest and recovery from work. Article 31(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union similarly provides that: 'Every worker has the right to limitation of maximum working hours, to daily and weekly rest periods, and to an annual period of paid leave.

The EC notes that over the last twenty years, changes have occurred in the world of work and the economy, which have impacted the organisation of working time. It believes it is now necessary to reflect on the kind of working time legislation the EU needs to address the current and future challenges – social, economic, technological and demographic. It has therefore launched a comprehensive review of the Working Time Directive (WTD). Its stated objective is to analyse what changes to the current legal framework would possibly be needed to arrive at working time rules which best meet the needs of workers, businesses, public services and consumers across the EU.


Between 2004-2009, Council and Parliament discussed an EC legislative proposal to make changes to the WTD, but discussions failed. In 2009, the EC President announced that the EC would make a new proposal, after a two-stage consultation with social partners and a comprehensive impact assessment.

March 2010 saw a first stage consultation paper of the European social partners, providing an overview of the relevant main terms and their legal implications (e.g. on-call time, stand-by time, compensatory rest, autonomous workers, application per-contract or per-worker, opt-out). It asked whether social partners considered there was a need for change, and if so, what its scope should be. In December 2010, the second stage consultation summarised responses and concluded there was need for change, setting out the themes and possible options on each. The EC made evaluation studies and reports available focusing on legal and socio-economic aspects.

Proposed changes

In reply to the second consultation, the main cross-sectoral social partners indicated interest in negotiating between themselves a WTD review. However, after meetings from December 2011 onwards, talks stalled and in February 2013 negotiations ended.

The EC is now pursuing its WTD review, seeking to complete its preparatory work with a thorough impact assessment of possible options for the review. This public consultation aims at contributing to the current review and impact assessment.

Consultation questions

Please send us your responses to the EC’s consultation questions and/or your general comments to by 13 February 2015. Thank you.

IOSH members wishing to also respond individually to the EC should visit here and respond to them by 15 March 2015.