European hours law dispute is resolved

An agreement has been struck between the European Parliament and the Council
of Ministers over the extension of EU Working Time rules to junior doctors,
non-mobile transport workers and sea-fishermen, three days before a final
deadline for the deal to be struck.

On Monday 3 April the committee agreed an implementation period for
extending Working Time rules to junior doctors, who will now work an average
maximum 48-hour week, over a four-month reference period, across the EU, by
2009.

The committee agreed that Member States should have five years to implement
the rule, which would include an additional four-year transitional period,
capping weekly hours at 58 hours for the first three years and 56 hours for the
final two.

It also formally accepted a compromise over sea-fishermen.

This allows Member States to ignore a formal commitment a 48-hour week over
a 12-month reference period for employed sea-fishermen, if they hold
consultation with employers and employee organisations.

Approval clears the way for non-mobile transport sector staff – such as
office clerks and warehouse workers – to be incorporated within the Working
Time directive.

It means that these employees will be guaranteed Working Time rights across
the EU, such as a 48-hour week.

The committee also agreed to allow Member States to extend the reference
period for measuring average working time for offshore oil workers from four
months to 12 months, so long as they consulted employee and employer
organisations.

These changes have to be ratified by the Parliament and the council.

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