In the UK we use The Working Time Regulations 1998 with later amendments. In Europe it is referred to as The European Community Working Time Directive. It sets out how people work and the constraints that apply. All shift patterns need to adhere to them.
Treaty of Rome
In 1957 the Treaty of Rome establishing the European Community originally set out limits and entitlements and their effect on an organisation. The Working Time Regulations, often abbreviated to WTD or EU WTD, originated here:
Without prejudice to the other provisions of this Treaty and in conformity with its general objectives, it shall be the aim of the Commission to promote close collaboration between Member States in the social field, particularly in matters relating to:
- labour legislation and working conditions,
- occupational and continuation training,
- social security,
- protection against occupational accidents and diseases,
- industrial hygiene,
- the law as to trade unions, and collective bargaining between employers and workers.
For this purpose, the Commission shall act in close contact with Member States by means of studies, the issuing of opinions, and the organising of consultations both on problems arising at the national level and on those of concern to international organisations.
Before issuing the opinions provided for under this Article, the Commission shall consult the Economic and Social Committee.
Single European Act
In 1986 this was expanded upon in the Single European Act
- Member States shall pay particular attention to encouraging improvements, especially in the working environment, as regards the health and safety of workers, and shall set as their objective the harmonisation of conditions in this area, while maintaining the improvements made.
- In order to help achieve the objective laid down in the first paragraph, the Council, acting in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 189c and after consulting the Economic and Social Committee, shall adopt, by means of directives, minimum requirements for gradual implementation, having regard to the conditions and technical rules obtaining in each of the Member States. Such directives shall avoid imposing administrative, financial and legal constraints in a way which would hold back the creation and development of small and medium-sized undertakings.
- The provisions adopted pursuant to this Article shall not prevent any Member State from maintaining or introducing more stringent measures for the protection of working conditions compatible with this Treaty.
Council Directive 93/104/EC
On the 23 November 1993 there came along the Council Directive 93/104/EC
This is the Directive that became the UK, and other European nations, Working Time Regulations of 1998.
This starts with:
The Council of the European Union,
Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular Article 118a thereof,
Having regard to the proposal from the Commission,
In cooperation with the European Parliament,
Having regard to the opinion of the Economic and Social Committee,
Whereas Article 118a of the Treaty provides that the Council shall adopt, by means of directives, minimum requirements for encouraging improvements, especially in the working environment, to ensure a better level of protection of the safety and health of workers;
Whereas, under the terms of that Article, those directives are to avoid imposing administrative, financial and legal constraints in a way which would hold back the creation and development of small and medium-sized undertakings.
This directive draws from the Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers, European Council, Strasbourg 9th December 1989 between Heads of State or of Governments of the 11 Member States.
It constrains the type of contracts between an employer and employee, imposes harmonious weekly rest periods and annual paid leave. Health and safety in the working environment.
The health and safety derived from granting minimum daily, weekly and annual periods of rest and adequate breaks with a maximum limit on weekly working hours. Special constraints on night work with a free health assessment are also stated.
This directive sets out:
Article 3; a daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours;
Article 4; a rest break after 6 hours work;
Article 5; a weekly 24 hour rest period + 11 hours daily rest:
Article 6; maximum weekly working time:
Article 7; annulal leave of at least 4 weeks;
Article 8; night working:
Article 9; health assessment:
Each country could then set their rules.
On 22 June 1994 the Council Directive 94/33/EC was issued to protect young people at work. In essence it imposes more constraints on the hours they can work.
Council Directive 94/33/EC
In 1998 The Working Time Regulations 1998 were adopted by the UK. In Statutory Instrument 1998 No.1833
The Working Time Regulations of 1998 took on all the constraints of the 1993 and 1994 Directives.