Key facts of the case:
Reference for a preliminary ruling — Protection of the safety and health of workers — Organisation of working time — Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union — Article 31 — Directive 2003/88/EC — Scope — Derogation — Article 1(3) — Directive 89/391/EEC — Article 2(2) — Work performed by foster parents.
Outcome of the case:
On those grounds, the Court (Grand Chamber) hereby rules:
Article 1(3) 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, read in conjunction with Article 2(2) of Council Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work, must be interpreted as meaning that the work performed by a foster parent under an employment contract with a public authority, which consists in taking in a child, integrating that child into his or her household and ensuring, on a continuous basis, the harmonious upbringing and education of that child, does not come within the scope of Directive 2003/88.
71) The integration, on a continuous and long-term basis, into the home and family of a foster parent, of children who on account of their difficult family situation are particularly vulnerable, constitutes an appropriate measure to safeguard the best interests of the child, as enshrined in Article 24 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
83) It is also important to add that limitations to the right, accorded to all workers by Article 31(2) of the Charter, to periods of daily and weekly rest as well as a period of paid annual leave, may be provided for in respect of the strict conditions set out in Article 52(1) of the Charter and, in particular, of the essential content of that right (see, to that effect, judgments of 6 November 2018, Bauer and Willmeroth, C‑569/16 and C‑570/16, EU:C:2018:871, paragraph 59, and of 6 November 2018, Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften, C‑684/16, EU:C:2018:874, paragraph 54).
86 )Thus, the statutory limitations placed on those foster parents’ right to periods of daily and weekly rest and to paid annual leave respect the essence of that right. In addition, they are necessary for the achievement of the public service objective, recognised by the Union, namely the protection of the best interests of the child, which is enshrined in Article 24 of the Charter, as that objective has been conceived by the Romanian legislation, and which is met by the obligation placed on the foster parent to ensure, on a continuous basis, the integration of the foster child into his or her home and family as well as the harmonious development and care of that child.
87) As a result, such limitations respect the conditions set out in Article 52(1) of the Charter.