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Last checked 16/04/2018

Mobile workers

If you hire staff to operate transport services for passengers or goods by road, rail, air or waterway, your employees are classified as mobile workers. As an employer, you must respect the specific rules for mobile workers.

In some EU countries, you must respect rules which are more favourable to workers. Find out more about national laws below:

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Road transportation workers and self-employed drivers

Weekly working time

If you hire workers engaged in road transportation activities, you must make sure that they respect the average weekly working time of 48 hours. You can extend it if required, to a maximum of 60 hours, but only if your staff work an average of 48 hours a week over a 4-month period.

An employee is considered a transportation worker when they:

  • undertake road transport activities (driving, loading and unloading, assisting passengers getting on and off the vehicle, cleaning and technical maintenance, monitoring of loading and unloading, administrative formalities)
  • do not have any free time and they are required to wait at their workstation/vehicle, e.g. during periods of loading or unloading

If you are a self-employed driver, you can consider working time when you are required to be at your workstation/vehicle, at the disposal of the client or undertaking transport activities

As an employer, remember that your staff can only drive up to maximum of 9 hours per day. Exceptionally – twice a week – your employees are allowed to drive up to 10 hours per day. They cannot drive more than 56 hours per week and their total fortnightly driving time cannot exceed 90 hours.

Sample story

You hire a driver to transport your goods to another EU country. During the course of one week, he drives for 56 hours and does 4 hours of vehicle maintenance - a total of 60 hours. To respect EU law he has to work less than 48 hours another week to compensate, because over the 4-month reference period he has to respect the average weekly working time of 48 hours.

Breaks during the working day

Your staff should not work for more than 6 consecutive hours without a break. If your staff work between 6 and 9 hours, they must take a break of at least 30 minutes. If they work for more than 9 hours, then they must stop working for at least 45 minutes.

After a driving period of 4.5 hours, your drivers have to take an uninterrupted break of at least 45 minutes, unless they take a rest period. If they prefer, your employees can split this long break into two, the first lasting at least 15 minutes followed by a second break of at least 30 minutes.

Rest periods

You must guarantee your staff a daily rest period of at least 11 consecutive hours, which you can reduce to 9 hours for maximum of 3 times per week. You can split daily rest into two parts: the first must be at least 3 hours, the second at least 9 hours. If you split the daily rest period, the sum of the two periods must be at least 12 hours.

Your employees should have an unbroken rest period of 45 hours per week, which you can reduce to 24 hours every second week. If you reduce the weekly rest period, you must agree on compensation arrangements with your staff.

Your workers must take weekly rest after 6 consecutive days of working. If your coach drivers occasionally transport passengers and drive at least 24 consecutive hours in another EU or non-EU country, they can postpone their weekly rest. They can wait for up to 12 days to take it, starting from the end of the last weekly rest period taken.

Sample story

You own a travel company in Slovenia and want to organise a 10-day coach trip to Portugal, with some stops in other EU countries. The trip starts on 11 April and ends on 21 April. Your coach driver has 48 hours rest during the weekend of 9 and10 April and starts driving on 11 April. Following the rules on rest periods, he is allowed to start his weekly rest after the end of the trip. However, his rest period must start no later than 12 days after that 11 April, which means no later than 23 April.

Night work

If your staff perform any activity between midnight and 7pm, they are considered night workers. If they do night work, your employees can work up to a maximum of 10 hours (including the night shift hours) in each 24-hour period.

Civil aviation workers

Working time, paid leave and rest

If you employ staff in the civil aviation sector, you must limit their maximum annual working time to 2 000 hours, with a maximum of 900 hours of total flight time.

You must guarantee that mobile staff working in civil aviation are given at least 4 weeks of paid annual leave. You cannot replace it by an allowance, except when the employment is terminated.

You should give your staff working in all types of services a minimum of:

  • 7 days free of all duty per calendar month (which may include any rest periods required by law)
  • 96 days free of all duty per calendar year (which may include any rest periods required by law)

Health and safety

Before your staff start to work, they must undertake a free health assessment, respecting medical confidentiality, and repeat it at regular intervals. If an employee suffers from health problems connected to night work, you must transfer them, whenever possible, to day work.

Rail workers operating cross-border services

Daily rest

You should guarantee that your employees have a minimum daily home rest of 12 consecutive hours in every 24-hour period. Once every 7-day period you can reduce their daily home rest to a minimum of 9 hours. If you do so, you must add the difference between the reduced rest and 12 hours to the next daily home rest.

Your employees' minimum daily rest away from home is 8 consecutive hours per 24-hour period and must be followed by a daily home rest.

Driving time and breaks for rail drivers

Your rail drivers' shifts cannot exceed 9 hours during daytime and 8 hours during the night between 2 daily rest periods. Over a 2-week period, you must limit the driving time of your drivers to 80 hours.

You must guarantee the following breaks to your rail drivers, according to their working time:

  • If they work between 6 and 8 hours, they must have a break of at least 30 minutes
  • If they work for more than 8 hours, they must have a break of at least 45 minutes

If there is a second driver, you must follow the national rules on breaks.

Breaks for other on-board staff

For the rest of the staff working longer than 6 hours, you must guarantee a break of at least 30 minutes.

 Weekly rest period

As an employer you must ensure that your workers have a minimum uninterrupted weekly rest period of 24 hours plus 12 hours daily rest over each 7-day period. Each year your workers must have 104 rest periods of 24 hours, including the 24-hour periods of the 52 weekly rest periods, including

  • 12 double rest periods (48 hours plus a daily rest of 12 hours including Saturday and Sunday)
  • 12 double rest periods (48 hours plus a daily rest of 12 hours) without the guarantee that this will include a Saturday or Sunday

Seafarers

Working hours and rest

If you employ staff on board a seagoing ship, their standard working hours are 8 hours per day, with one day of rest per week and additional rests on public holidays.

According to national rules, you have to guarantee that crewmembers stick to maximum working hours or minimum resting time:

  • the maximum working hours must not exceed 14 hours in any 24-hour period and 72 hours in any 7-day period
  • the minimum resting time cannot be less than 10 hours in any 24-hour period and 77 hours in any 7-day period

You can divide the hours of rest into a maximum of two parts. If you split the rest, one of the two rest periods must last at least 6 hours and the interval between consecutive rest periods cannot exceed 14 hours.

The master of a ship has the right to request that a crewmember works additional hours if deemed necessary, e.g. for the immediate safety of the ship, persons on board or cargo, or to assist other ships or persons in distress at sea.

Paid annual leave

You must guarantee that your employees receive a minimum of 2.5 calendar days of paid annual leave per month and on a pro-rata basis for incomplete months. You cannot replace the minimum period of paid annual leave by an allowance, except when the employment is terminated.

Keeping records

As employer, you have to keep a record of daily hours worked and rest periods taken by your crewmembers. You should provide each staff member with a copy of their records, endorsed by the master of the ship and by the employee.

Health assessments

Before your staff start to work on a ship, your crewmembers must possess a valid medical certificate attesting that they are medically fit to perform their duties.

Unless a shorter period is required, the medical certificates of your staff are valid for a maximum period of 2 years. If your crew members are under 18, the maximum period of validity is one year. Note that a certification of colour vision can be valid for a maximum period of 6 years.

In urgent cases, the competent authority may permit a crewmember to work without a valid medical certificate (or when its validity period expires during a voyage) until they reach the next port of call, where the crewmember can obtain a medical certificate from a qualified medical practitioner. You can do so if:

  • the period of this permission does not exceed 3 months
  • your crewmember has a recently expired medical certificate

If you hire crewmembers to work on ships ordinarily engaged on international voyages, make sure that the medical certificate is at least provided in English.

Your crewmembers must have regular health assessments. If a watchkeeper suffers from health problems related to work performed during a night shift, you must transfer him/her, when possible, to day work.

Age limits

You cannot hire staff under 16 to work on a ship.

If you hire staff under 18, they cannot work during the night. Consider as night a period of at least 9 consecutive hours defined by national rules which includes the time from midnight to 5am, for example from 10pm to 7am, or 8pm to 5am. Your staff aged between 16 and 18 can only work during the night if they're taking part on a training course, when the competent authority has made an exception.

You cannot employ crewmembers under 18 if their employment, engagement or work is likely to jeopardise their health or safety. To find out which type of work is forbidden, follow the indications set by national rules or by the competent authority.

Inland waterway transport workers

Working time, paid annual leave, night shifts

Your staff (crew -members or shipboard personnel) can work 8 hours a day. You can request that your employees work longer if they respect an average of 48 hours of work per week within 12 months. Over the course of a 12-months period, your employees can work for a maximum of 2 304 hours. If you employ them for less than 12 months, you have to calculate the maximum permissible working time on a pro-rata basis.

Your workers cannot work more than 14 hours in any 24-hour period and 84 hours in any 7-day period. If you consider a 4-month period and there are more working days than rest days according to the work schedule, your workers must respect the average weekly working time of 72 hours.

You should ensure that your staff receive paid annual leave of at least 4 weeks or a corresponding proportion if you employ them for less than one year. You cannot replace the minimum period of paid annual leave by an allowance, except when their employment is terminated.

Based on a night period of 7 hours, your staff can work a maximum of 42 hours a week during the night– between 11pm and 6 am.

Rest periods

Your employees cannot work for more than 31 days consecutively.

If the work schedule indicates that your workers have fewer working days than rest days, you must ensure that they are given as many consecutive rest days as the days as they worked consecutively. For example, if your staff work 10 consecutive days, you must give them 10 consecutive rest days. You can give your staff fewer consecutive rest days, starting immediately after the consecutive working days, if you respect the following conditions:

  • you respect the maximum number of 31 consecutive working days
  • you respect the minimum number of consecutive rest days indicated in the table below
  • the extended or exchanged period of working days is balanced out within the reference period

If your staff have more working days than rest days according to the work schedule, you should follow these indications in the table below for the minimum number of consecutive rest days:

Consecutive working days Rest days
From 1 to 10 0.2 rest days per consecutive working day
From 11 to 20 0.3 rest days per consecutive working day
From 21 to 31 0.4 rest days per consecutive working day

As indicated above, you should add up the partial rest days earned and ensure your staff are allocated these. Rest days can only be taken as full days. For example, if an employee works 12 days consecutively, they would be entitled to 3.6 rest days. They can rest for 3 full days and add 0.6 days to their next rest period.

Rest periods

Your staff must rest at least:

  • 10 hours in each 24-period, of which at least 6 hours are uninterrupted
  • 84 hours in any 7-day period

Seasonal work

If you employ workers on board a passenger vessel during a season (period of no more than 9 consecutive months during a 12-month period) you must respect the following limits for working hours:

  • 12 hours in any 24-hour period
  • 72 hours in any 7-day period

You must give your staff 0.2 rest days per working day. During every period of 31 days, your staff must rest at least 2 days.

Keeping records

As an employer, you must keep a record of each worker's daily working hours and rest time.

You must include at least the following information:

  • name of the vessel
  • name of the worker
  • name of the competent boatmaster
  • date
  • working day or rest day
  • beginning and end of the daily working or rest periods

These records must be kept on board until at least the end of the reference period and checked regularly with the members of staff. You must also provide your staff with a copy of the endorsed records. The copy of these records should be kept for at least one year.

 Health assessments

You have to provide all your workers with a free annual health assessment, in compliance with medical confidentiality. If a night worker suffers from health problems related to work performed during a night shift, you must transfer him/her, when possible, to day work.

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