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European Labour Law Network

Non-respect of working time limit and minimum rest periods in French hospitals

FRANCE - The European Commission has called attention to hospital doctors’ working hours and the minimum rest period based on an infringement procedure against France.

  • EU rulings on working hour limits and minimum rest periods:
    Article 3 of Directive 2003/88/CE concerns daily rest. Article 5 of the same directive concerns weekly rest periods. Article 6 of the same directive concerns maximum weekly working time.
  • The non-application of EU rules for French hospital doctors:
    The national legislation concerning the working hours of hospital doctors and minimum rest periods, Article R. 6152-27 of the French Public Health Code, provides that hospital doctors have to work ten half days per week, which do not exceed 48 hours. This is calculated on a period of 4 months.

For night work, the working hours are calculated as two half days.
The minimum rest period is around 11 consecutive hours for a period of 24 hours. However, hospital doctors can work for 24 consecutive hours and benefit from a rest period that is as long as the working time at the end of this period. Finally, on-call shifts are also considered working time.

Decision of the French Council of State No. 258201 of 4 February 2005:

By this decision, the union of hospital doctors (anaesthesiologists and intensivists) filed a claim against France for disregard of the EU legislation on working time.

As mentioned for Article R. 6152-27 of the French Public Health Code, hospital doctors work ten half days without being allowed to exceed 48 hours, calculated on a period of 4 months.

By counting periods of night work, the national judge considered the maximum working time of 48 hours within a period of 4 months as not respected in practice. The national judge called on public hospitals to be in compliance with EU legislation, especially the Directive of 23 November 1993 (before Directive 2003/88/CE).