Wednesday, September 27, 2023
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Court Gives Overworked Greek Doctors a Break

(CN) - Greece broke EU law by forcing doctors to work up to 32 hours consecutively without required rest breaks, the European Court of Justice ruled Wednesday.

Ten Greek medical associations lodged a complaint with the European Commission after legislation passed requiring doctors and interns to work between 60 and 93 hours per week, including up to 32 hours consecutively without minimum daily and weekly rest periods mandated by EU law.

The commission in turn took the Hellenic Republic to the EU high court, claiming that by ignoring the EU's maximum work week of 48 hours - and minimum rest periods of 11 hours per 24-hour period and at least 24 hours' uninterrupted rest each week - Greece violated EU law.

On Wednesday, Europe's highest court agreed, finding that doctors should not be treated differently than any other worker in the EU and Greece had an obligation to set the same maximums and rest requirements for doctors as other workers enjoy.

The Luxembourg-based court also noted that time doctors spend on call or providing emergency services must also be figured into their maximum 48-hour work week.

As for rest periods, the court ruled that Greece cannot force doctors to be on call immediately after working their shifts since doing so would result in shifts of 24 and even 32 hours without the required 11-hour uninterrupted break.

Greece must change its national law or face fines from the commission.

The court's opinion was not made available in English.

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