COSLA is particularly keen that the retained fire fighters’ specific situation is duly recognised in the future Directive as to ensure continuity of the service across Scotland. 4. Is it useful for the Commission to amend the Directive in line with the objectivesset out in the draft paper? Are there any alternative options that you would propose, including non legislative measures?For example, would you like to see more clarity around the flexible use of compensatory rest? There is recognition that European Jurisprudence has made it inevitable that the Working Time Directive would be reviewed and it is therefore appropriate that the Commission tries a third round now that the Commission and Parliament are fully installed for a new term. In terms of proposals, our practitioners are unanimous in their support for as much flexibility as
possible in order to support the sectors identified above. However they are also very keen that the definitions contained in the Directive (on call, active inactive, etc) are robust as to ensure legal certainty during the implementation phase. Clearly they would like to see maximum flexibility for local determination of compensatory rest arrangements. There should be more flexibility on the time limits on rest beaks and rest periods particularly where employees work irregular hours or split shifts.A clear distinction in the future rules between inactive and active on call time, with the former not counting towards working time, is proposed. The suggestion of calculating working time at less than 100% is seen by some as a possible way for a compromise that could be further developed.Similarly, there is overall sympathy for provisions that enlarge the reference period for averaging working hours, either in a 52 week or a 12 month timeframe.One noteworthy proposal coming from practitioners suggest that if the future rules were to be stricter regarding on call time , then the Directive should take into account of rest periods immediately after, but also immediately beforethe shift. They report that often workers working two short periods during a 24 hour timespan can effectively rest before and after these two shifts,therefore the Directive should take into account the overall amount of rest available to the employee round the clock.A constructive approach to this difficult question is also suggested in relation to the overall rationale of the working time rules. Given that mobile and flexible working conditions , including home working, is increasingly popular among employees due to societal change, it is important to measure not the amount of time spent but what has been achieved, with the rules of compensatory rest been understood in a flexible way to reflect this. Again, a key concern is legal definitions. Particularly highlighted is the need to define “reasonable” as per “reasonable time period”. This refers to both the need to have in the EU rulesthe limits of what is reasonable but then allow the local employer maximum flexibility to agree with its employees what reasonablemeans in that particular workforce requirements and conditions.