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Working time: Commission refers Greece to Court for not respecting EU rules in public health services

20/11/2013
Working time: Commission refers Greece to Court for not respecting EU rules in public health services © Shutterstock - wavebreakmedia

The European Commission has decided to refer Greece to the EU's Court of Justice for not complying with the EU rules on limits to working time for doctors in public health services.

In particular, Greece fails to ensure that these doctors work no more than 48 hours per week on average, including any overtime.

In practice, doctors working in public hospitals and health centres in Greece often have to work a minimum average of 64 hours per week and over 90 hours in some cases, with no legal maximum limit. There is no legal ceiling to how many continuous hours they can be required to work at the workplace, and they often have to work without adequate intervals for rest or sleep.

The Commission considers this situation a serious infringement of the EU's Working Time Directive, endangering not only doctors' health and safety but also their patients as over-tired doctors risk making mistakes.

The Commission became aware of the infringement after receiving numerous complaints from doctors, and already requested Greece to take the necessary measures to ensure that national law and the practice of public authorities comply with the Directive. However, no concrete progress towards compliance has yet been made.


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