Dear clients,

Please allow us to inform you about a decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (C-477/21, dated 2.3.2023) which may potentially represent a breakthrough in the provision of continuous rest between two shifts and during the week.

Under the current Labour Code, the employer is obliged to provide the employee with:

- uninterrupted rest between two shifts of at least 11 hours.

- uninterrupted rest of at least 35 hours per week.

The above-mentioned CJEU decision draws attention to the situation where there is a coincidence of uninterrupted rest between two shifts and during a week. In such a case, according to the CJEU's interpretation, there must first be uninterrupted rest between two shifts, followed by uninterrupted weekly rest. In practice, this would mean that the employer would have to provide 46 hours of rest (11 + 35) so that the employee first takes 11 hours of uninterrupted rest between two shifts, even if this rest is not followed by another shift, and then also takes 35 hours of uninterrupted weekly rest.

The question is how the Czech legislator, who most likely intended to set the continuous weekly rest of 35 hours in full compliance with the EU Directive, which requires a minimum continuous rest between two shifts of 11 hours and 24 hours in a week (i.e. 11+24 = 35), will approach this groundbreaking decision.

It would be suggested that there should be an amendment to the Labor Code which, in the light of the new CJEU decision, will "shorten" the continuous weekly rest period to 24 hours, effectively maintaining the current rest period of 35 hours (or 11 hours of rest between two shifts, followed by 24 hours of weekly rest). Otherwise, significant problems can be expected for many employers, particularly in shift work. Similarly, it can be expected that the Labor Inspectorate will focus on this issue.

It is thus recommended not to delay any adjustments to shift schedules, as this is not a novelty that is yet to come into force, but an interpretation of existing legislation, i.e. employers should provide compulsory rest in accordance with the above interpretation. Although the reaction of the legislator may not be quick enough, the administrative authorities may instead start to react to this inconsistency quite quickly.