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Court of Justice: shortest duration of daily leave



When a worker has concluded several employment contracts with the same employer, the shortest duration of daily leave applies to all those contracts together and not to each of the contracts separately.


On March 17th 2021, Court of Justice has released media statement number 41/2021, in regards to case number C-585/19, ''Academia de Studii Economice din Bucureşti/Organismul Intermediar pentru Programul Operaţional Capital Uman – Ministerul Educaţiei Naţionale'', in which procedure the court dealt with the issue of the duration of the employee's daily leave in the case when the employee concluded several employment contracts with the same employer.


First of all, the Court recalls that the right of every worker to the limitation of maximum working hours and periods of rest, in particular daily, is not only a rule of Union social law of particular importance but also expressly guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. In this regard, the Court notes that the term “working time” is defined by the Working Time Directive as the period of time during which a worker works, is at the disposal of the employer and performs his duties and tasks. It obliges Member States to take the necessary measures to ensure that "every worker" is entitled to a rest period of at least 11 hours continuously, within 24 hours. In addition, “rest time” is defined as a period of time that is not working time. "Rest time" and "working time" are therefore mutually exclusive terms and the Working Time Directive does not provide for an intermediate category between working time and rest time.


However, the requirement of the Working Time Directive that every worker is entitled to a daily leave of at least 11 hours on a daily basis cannot be met if those rest periods are examined separately for each contract linking that worker to his employer. Namely, in such a case, the hours which are considered to constitute rest periods under one contract, as is the case in the case before the Court, may constitute working hours under another contract. However, since the same period cannot be regarded as both working time and rest time, it follows that employment contracts concluded by a worker with his employer must be examined together.


This interpretation is also confirmed by the aim of the directive, which is to lay down minimum conditions for the improvement of the living and working conditions of workers by harmonizing national rules specifically relating to working time. This aim seeks to ensure better protection of the safety and health of workers, providing them with the shortest periods of rest, especially daily. The Court therefore considers that the shortest duration of daily leave, in the case where a worker has concluded several employment contracts with the same employer, applies to all those contracts together and not to each of those contracts separately.


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