The Court of Justice in the Workplace – protecting the rights of workers

The Court of Justice in the Workplace – protecting the rights of workers

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EU law has an impact on the lives of all EU citizens in many different ways. The workplace is just one example EU law has a say in how many days holiday you get, how long you can work in a week and your right to sick leave. Thanks to Court rulings, it is now clear that if you are sick whilst on your holidays, you can get back the days that you can show you were ill. Similarly, if you’re on long-term sick leave and can’t take your holidays in the time permitted you can ask your employer either to allow you to be paid for them, or to take those holidays at a later date. In one case referred to the Court, a Trade Union challenged national regulations which meant that employees only had a right to holidays once they had worked for thirteen weeks. Since employers could abuse these national rules by resorting to a succession of short-term contracts so as to deprive employees of paid holiday the Court decided that these rules breach EU law, which grants a right to annual leave to all workers in the EU. The Court has also ruled many times on whether time spent on call, by doctors, firemen, and other emergency workers, should count as working time. The Court decided that where the employee was unable to make use of their time as they wished, for example a junior doctor on call in a hospital, those hours should be considered working time. Through these, and many more rulings, the Court of Justice has ensured decent working conditions for employees.

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