Employers can require workers to work 24 consecutive days


The weekly rest period prescribed under the EU Working Time Directive (WTD) can be given to workers in Britain at any point in a 14-day period, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has clarified.

Under the WTD, a worker is entitled to at least one 24-hour period of uninterrupted time off work every week. In a case involving a worker in Portugal, the worker claimed his employer had erred by not giving him a day off after six consecutive working days. A local court dismissed his claim, but the case was referred to the ECJ.

The ECJ held that the rest day need not be given after six consecutive working days. Instead, an employer may choose to position a rest day at the start of one seven-day period and another rest day at end of the next seven-day period. This means up to 12 consecutive working days are permitted under the WTD, providing the other requirements of the WTD (such as 11 hours’ daily rest and the maximum weekly working time) are met.

The WTD gives Member States the option of extending the reference period to up to 14 days, so in Britain employers have the option of providing either a rest period of 48 hours every 14 days or two periods of 24 hours every 14 days.

This means an employer in Britain may choose to provide the first Monday and Tuesday of the first 14-day period as rest days and the last Saturday and Sunday of the second 14-day period as rest days, which would mean 24 consecutive working days in the middle.

The ECJ’s ruling is significant for employers who manage shift rosters with staff working at weekends, particularly those in the healthcare and hospitality sectors.

Employment solicitors in Eastbourne, Bexhill and Hastings

For expert advice on WTD-related issues or any other employment law matter please email Paul Maynard (Partner) or call him on 01323 435 900. To learn about Paul’s skills and experience please view his website profile.

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