Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

Working Conditions - Sectoral Working Time

Sectoral Working Time


Minimum standards for working time in the civil aviation sector are laid down in an EU Directive (2000/79/EC). Implementing an agreement between the main employer and employee organisations at European level, the directive provides for:

  • a maximum annual working time of 2000 hours, with the total flight time limited to 900 hours, spread as evenly as practicable throughout the year
  • a certain number of days free of all service (7 days per months and at least 96 days per year)
  • at least four weeks’ paid annual leave
  • a free health assessment before employees are assigned, and then at regular intervals
  • an obligation on the employer to adapt the pace of the work to the worker
  • health and safety protection appropriate to the nature of the work.


A better-integrated EU rail network will bring major environmental benefits. At the same time, the involvement of the social partners will ensure satisfactory working conditions for workers in interoperable rail services. Those conditions are defined by a Directive (2005/47/EC), which implements an agreement between the social partners in the various sectors at European level. The agreement entitles workers to a daily rest period of 12 consecutive hours and breaks of between 30 and 45 minutes. It limits daily driving time to 9 hours on a day shift and 8 hours on a night shift. It also gives employers greater flexibility. Under exceptional circumstances, they can shorten the daily rest periods to 9 hours instead of the 11 provided for in the Working Hours Directive.


Working times for seafarers on ships registered in the territory of an EU Member State and ordinarily engaged in commercial maritime operations are regulated by an agreement reached between maritime employers and labour at the European level in 1998. An EU Directive (1999/63/EC) implements this agreement, giving it the force of law in the EU.

The agreement sets minimum standards. More favourable determination of seafarers’ hours is possible at the national level, by collective agreement. The working hours standard for seafarers under the European agreement is an 8-hour day, with one day of rest per week and rest on public holidays.

The limits on hours of work or rest are:


maximum hours of work which shall not exceed:

  • 14 hours in any 24-hour period; and
  • 72 hours in any 7-day period;


minimum hours of rest which shall not be less than:

  • 10 hours in any 24-hour period; and
  • 77 hours in any 7-day period.

Hours of rest may be divided into no more than two periods, one of which shall be of at least six hours in length, and the interval between consecutive periods of rest shall not exceed 14 hours. Night work is generally banned for seafarers aged under 18.

There are some exceptions to all of these provisions, notably in the case of an emergency at sea.

The International Labour Organisation’s Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 sets minimum global standards for seafarers’ working conditions. To ensure its application within the EU, the European maritime social partners signed a further agreement in 2008. This is implemented by a new Directive, which amongst other things amends the previous Directive (1999/63/EC). However, it does not change the core provisions summarised above.

Under the current provisions, minimum annual leave for EU seafarers is to be calculated on the basis of a minimum of 2.5 calendar days per month of employment and pro rata for incomplete months.


An EU Directive (2002/15/EC) sets the framework for the organisation of working time for mobile workers in road transport activities and self-employed drivers. This issue is the responsibility of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy and Transport.

Other sectors

A further EU Directive (2000/34/EC) covers some aspects of working time organisation in sectors or activities that are outside the scope of the general Working Time Directive.

The texts of the various sectoral working time directives are available, together with implementation studies and impact assessments.


Preparatory Documents

Implementation Reports


Share this page