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The Sustainability of the European Social Model

The Sustainability of the European Social Model

EU Governance, Social Protection and Employment Policies in Europe

Edited by Jean-Claude Barbier, Ralf Rogowski and Fabrice Colomb

This book argues that the European Social Model can only be sustained in the current economic crisis if social and employment policies are adequately recognised as integral parts of European economic policy-making. The contributing authors investigate this hypothesis through comparative evaluations of interactions of EU economic governance with national systems of social protection. In particular they focus on two key policy areas – social services of general interest and the regulation of working time – as well as covering areas such as social inclusion, active ageing policies and job quality. By combining sociological approaches with legal analyses, the book provides unique insights and evaluation of EU methods of governance.

Chapter 7: The EU Working Time Directive in the Czech Republic

Tomáš Sirovátka

Subjects: law - academic, european law, labour, employment law, law and society, politics and public policy, european politics and policy, regulation and governance, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy


The impact of EU labour law on the Czech system of labour law with particular reference to the case of the EU Working Time Directive (WTD) is analysed. The question in focus is whether the transposition and implementation of the EU directive into the national labour law has provided workers with more certainty or not. The structure of the chapter is as follows: first, the Czech approach to the transposition and implementation of EU law is explained. Next, the author analyses how WTD was transposed and implemented. Then, the political debate over the directive in the Czech Republic is examined. Lastly, the findings are discussed in a broader societal and political context. The findings show that although EU labour legislation was transposed promptly due to accession to the EU in 2004, its impact was hardly visible in practice in consequence of the generally low level of legal awareness, low respect for legislation and neglect of labour law in practice. There was little (or insufficient) intervention from the bodies responsible for enforcement, due to inappropriate institutional means and lack of political commitment. Two circumstances contribute to a legislative uncertainty associated with the regulations of the EU Working Time Directive. The first is the problem of the inconsistent position of EU bodies such as the European Parliament, European Council, European Commission and European Court of Justice concerning the directive. Secondly, in the case of the Czech Republic, the general political direction concerning labour law is a strong tendency towards flexibilisation, as expressed in the political programmes of the centre-right governments since 2006. This trend also facilitated the rapid development of practices to circumvent legislation. Because these practices are widespread, the actors involved do not need to seek the support of the ECJ in order to oppose labour law legislation. A major problem of the EU Working Time Directive is that there are serious failures in its implementation and enforcement. These problems are particularly pertinent with respect to overtime work, on-call time regulations, and combined working time of a first and a second labour contract.

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