Article 31 - Fair and just working conditions
Key facts of the case:
Request for a preliminary ruling from the Vrhovno sodišče Republike Slovenije.
Reference for a preliminary ruling – Protection of the safety and health of workers – Organisation of working time – Directive 2003/88/EC – Article 2 – Concept of ‘working time’ – Stand-by time according to a stand-by system – Specific work maintaining television transmitters situated far away from residential areas – Directive 89/391/EEC – Articles 5 and 6 – Psychosocial risks – Obligation to prevent.
Outcome of the case:
On those grounds, the Court (Grand Chamber) hereby rules:
Article 2(1) of Directive 2003/88/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 November 2003 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time must be interpreted as meaning that a period of stand-by time according to a stand-by system, during which the worker is required only to be contactable by telephone and able to return to his or her workplace, if necessary, within a time limit of one hour, while being able to stay in service accommodation made available to him or her by his or her employer at that workplace, without being required to remain there, does not constitute, in its entirety, working time within the meaning of that provision, unless an overall assessment of all the facts of the case, including the consequences of that time limit and, if appropriate, the average frequency of activity during that period, establishes that the constraints imposed on that worker during that period are such as to affect, objectively and very significantly, the latter’s ability freely to manage, during the same period, the time during which his or her professional services are not required and to devote that time to his or her own interests. The limited nature of the opportunities to pursue leisure activities within the immediate vicinity of the place concerned is irrelevant for the purposes of that assessment.
27) Moreover, by establishing the right of every worker to a limitation of maximum working hours and to daily and weekly rest periods, Directive 2003/88 gives specific form to the fundamental right expressly enshrined in Article 31(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and must, therefore be interpreted in the light of that Article 31(2). It follows in particular that the provisions of Directive 2003/88 may not be interpreted restrictively to the detriment of the rights that workers derive from it (see, to that effect, judgment of 14 May 2019, CCOO, C‑55/18, EU:C:2019:402, paragraph 30 to 32 and the case-law cited).
37) It follows from the elements set out in paragraphs 33 to 36 of this judgment and also from the need, recalled in paragraph 27 of this judgment, to interpret Article 2(1) of Directive 2003/88 in the light of Article 31(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, that the concept of ‘working time’ within the meaning of Directive 2003/88 covers the entirety of periods of stand-by time, including those according to a stand-by system, during which the constraints imposed on the worker are such as to affect, objectively and very significantly, the possibility for the latter freely to manage the time during which his or her professional services are not required and to pursue his or her own interests.