EU Governance, Social Protection and Employment Policies in Europe
Edited by Jean-Claude Barbier, Ralf Rogowski and Fabrice Colomb
Chapter 9: Governance of EU labour law: Implementation of the EU Working Time Directive in the Netherlands
This chapter deals with the challenges that European law poses for national legislation and practices regarding working time. The regulation of working time is situated at the crossroads of health and safety regulations and employment protection. The European Union has acknowledged the need to regulate and limit working time in the Working Time Directive (WTD); Directive 2003/88/EC. This chapter examines the major topics of discussion concerning issues related to the implementation of the WTD in the Netherlands, notably annualised hours, flexible hours, the individual opt-out, on-call work and shift work. In the Netherlands trade unions consider that the Directive has been transposed into national law in a way which has reduced the level of protection previously available. However, our research has led to the conclusion that the implementation in the Netherlands is flexible because collective agreements are playing an important role in implementing the Working Time Directive in this country. Despite some problems, the implementation of the WTD in the Netherlands has not been controversial. However, some discrepancies between EU law and domestic definitions of the crucial concept of working time do persist which can lead to further litigation, especially in the case of on-call work. In general terms, the implementation of the WTD has left the main problem relating to working time in the Netherlands, its ‘successful’ part-time model, untouched.
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