NHS European Office

European court says Ireland breaches law on doctors working hours

Hospital doctors

25 / 3 / 2015 9.31am

Ireland could face significant fines if a legal opinion is upheld, which found that they failed to comply with the Working Time Directive for doctors in public hospitals. 

At the beginning of 2014, The European Commission referred Ireland to the European Court of Justice for what it considered to be 'serious infringements' of the working time rules.

Ireland’s decision to exclude training time from the calculation of doctors’ working time means that trainee doctors who are obliged to participate in training do not get their minimum rest entitlement. 

The legal opinion, published on 19 March by the Court of Justice states that 'the two aspects of the activity performed by non-consultant doctors, their provision of medical care and their training, are inextricably linked'.

A full judgment on this case will be delivered in the next three to six months and, if upheld, Ireland could face significant fines.

The NHS European Office responded to the European Commission’s recent public consultation on how the Working Time Directive should be changed and we are working with NHS employers and relevant organisations to inform European decision-makers how the WTD has affected the health service and to suggest how the rules should be changed in the future.

Read a summary of and download the full European Office response. Find out more on our work to influence the Working Time Directive and the wider work of the NHS European Office.


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