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Working Time and Rest Breaks

19 December 2015: Rest Breaks. 

In the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Court  in December 2015 the EFTA Court held that an 84-hour working week imposed on resident therapists at a care home was compatible with the EU Working Time Directive. As long as the employer is able to show that staff agreed the opt out from the 48-hour working week and daily and weekly rest periods, there would be no breach.


In this case, the workers argued that any opt out from the 48-hour working week remained subject to the limitation imposed by the entitlement to daily and weekly rest periods on the total number of hours which were available to be worked each week. However, the court held that no such limitation would apply where the activities fell within the types of work for which compensatory rest could be granted.


Where residential care was required, there may be objective reasons why compensatory rest could not be taken. The same may apply to residential care in hospitals and similar institutions. (Matja Kumba T M’bye and others v Stiftelsen Fossumkollektivet E-5/15.)


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