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Dolores Utrilla
9th March 2021
Employment & Immigration Internal Market

Court of Justice: ‘on-call time’ does not automatically qualify as ‘working time’ under the Working Time Directive

Today, the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice handed down its judgments in DJ v Radiotelevizija Slovenija (C344/19) and RJ v Stadt Offenbach am Main (C-580/19), two preliminary rulings concerning the interpretation of Article 2(1) and (2) of the Working Time Directive 2003/88 when classifying a period of ‘on-call time’ as ‘working time’ or ‘a rest period’.

These cases concern two workers in Slovenia and Germany who claimed that, due to the restrictions inherent to periods of stand-by time according to a stand-by system, such periods must be considered in their entirety as ‘working time’ and remunerated accordingly, irrespective of whether or not they had carried out any specific work during those periods.

In its judgments today, the Court of Justice ruled that such periods are to be classified in their entirety as ‘working time’ only where the constraints imposed on the worker during those periods objectively and very significantly affect his or her ability freely to manage the time during which his or her professional services are not required and to pursue his or her own interests. Conversely, in the absence of such constraints, only the time linked to the provision of work actually carried out during that period constitutes ‘working time’. In this regard, today’s judgments clarify that only the constraints that are imposed on the worker by national rules (by a by a collective agreement, or by the employer) may be taken into consideration, while organisational difficulties arising from natural factors or the free choice of the worker are not relevant.

The judgments are available here (for C-344/19) and here (for C-580/19).

An Op-Ed on these cases by Daniela Krömer will be published soon on EU Law Live.


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