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EU Bishops call for debate on Sunday working

EU Bishops have expressed regret that the European Parliament is not planning a debate on Sunday working in its new Working Time Directive.

The Parliament is now deliberating on the Second Reading on the revision of the Working Time Directive of 2003. On 22 October, seven Members of Parliament tabled amendments to the draft recommendation of the rapporteur Alejandro Cercas, asserting that the minimum weekly rest period "shall in principle include Sunday ".

They also underlined the importance of a work-free Sunday for the protection of workers' health, saying: "The likelihood of sickness in companies that require staff to work on Sundays is greater than in companies that do not require staff to work on Sundays. The health of workers depends, among other factors, on their opportunities to reconcile work and family life, to establish and maintain social ties and to pursue their spiritual needs. Sunday, as the traditional weekly rest day, contributes to these objectives more than any other day of the week."

In their justification the parliamentarians point to the fact that "absenteeism and sick-leave increase significantly in companies working on Sunday". This negative impact on workers' health "is mainly due to the consequences for social, especially family life". Sunday "is the natural choice for family related activities, as childcare facilities and schools are closed".

If the Parliament wishes to be serious about the aim of reconciling work and family life ­ a goal which is explicitly mentioned in the Directive ­ it would make sense to complete the current draft by adding a provision on Sunday as a weekly rest day.

COMECE is encouraging Euro MPs to use the Parliament's Rules of Procedure, in order to enable a debate and vote on the protection of Sunday at the Plenary on 16 December

Source: COMECE


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