BriefingBMJ 1997; 315 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7101.3 (Published 19 July 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:S3-7101
Doctors are one of the groups specifically exempt from the changes in working hours brought about by the EU working time directive, but as around 3.5 million Britons currently work more than the maximum decreed in the directive, it is likely that it will have indirect effects. According to a review of the impact of the proposed legislation in IRS Employment Review (July 1997;635:2) it will take a new approach by many British employers to achieve the directive's goal of a maximum eight hour shift on night work, a minimum daily rest period of 11 hours, a rest break in any shift longer than six hours, at least one rest day each week, and minimum annual paid leave of four weeks.
Bringing about the changes may prove challenging to British managers, whom the report criticises. It claims that reliance on a basic working week plus overtime is costly, sloppy, and has significant health and safety implications. Whether this argument continues to apply when, as in the case of junior doctors, the overtime rate is cheaper than basic pay, is not discussed.