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European Working Time Directive (EWTD)

Created: 16/5/2005
Updated: 30/7/2009
The New Deal was introduced in the United Kingdom in June 1991 with the aim of reducing junior doctors' hours of work to an average maximum of 56 per week, irrespective of the shift pattern worked. It is clear, however, that it has failed fully to deliver the required hours of rest for junior doctors. 
The EWTD was set up by the Council of the European Union (93/104/EC) to protect the health and safety of workers in the European Union. Minimum requirements have been laid down in relation to working hours, rest periods, annual leave and working arrangements for night workers. The Directive was enacted in UK law as the Working Time Regulations, which took effect from 1 October 1998.

EWTD requirements

  • No more than 48 hours work per week (averaged over a reference period)
  • 11 hours continuous rest in 24 hours
  • 24 hours continuous rest in 7 days (or 48 hrs in 14 days)
  • 20 minute break in work periods of over 6 hours
  • 4 weeks annual leave
  • Maximum 8 hours work in 24 hours for night workers
In August 2004, the maximum resident duty fell to 58 hours and this will drop to 48 by 2009.
Below are a number of links to well known resources covering the EWTD

 The Association of Anaesthetists (AAGBI)
EWTD main points
EWTD and Medical Indemnity

 Royal College of Anaesthetists
Impact of EWTD
 Modernisation Agency
Working Time Directive Pilot Programme
 Department of Health
Link to the department of health website on this topic
Department of Health FAQs
 British Medical Association
Junior doctors and the EWTD
 BBC news items

Working time directive vote: Your views
Euro-MPs back tighter work hours 
UK working culture 'under threat'
UK 'to keep EU work time opt-out'

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