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Commission requests Belgium to correctly apply Directive to teachers in residential schools

21/11/2012 Commission requests Belgium to correctly apply Directive to teachers in residential schools

The European Commission has requested Belgium to take measures to correctly apply the EU working time Directive (2003/88/EC) to teachers in Belgian residential schools.

In Belgium, overnight on-call time at the workplace worked by teachers in residential schools is not counted 100% as working time e.g. an overnight duty of 8 hours is counted as 3 hours' actual working time. The teachers can be obliged to perform up to four such overnight duties per week. The overnight duty can be further combined with a daily shift.

This could result in breaches of the provisions of Directive 2003/88/EC which sets a maximum limit to weekly working time (48 hours on average) and requires minimum rest periods, in particular a minimum daily rest of 11 consecutive hours per 24-hour period. Derogations from the rules on rest periods are possible in some cases provided that an equivalent period of compensatory rest follows on immediately from the working time which it is supposed to compensate.

The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures. Belgium now has two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to correctly implement the Directive. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Belgium to the EU's Court of Justice.