Year: 2020
Social policy

Code of good practices. Fostering decent working time regulation in the public sector through reinforced employee involvement


The events of recent years - and even months - present European employees with new challenges. The development of new communication techniques, and recently the isolation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, force the implementation of new ways of working time arrangement. Along with social development appear also new needs and expectations of employees in terms of working time. Employees increasingly value work-life balance.

To meet these new conditions, we present a catalogue of good practices on the arrangement of working time - with particular emphasis on employees of the broadly understood public sector. It was created as part of the project “ENGAGED. Fostering decent working time regulation in the public sector through reinforced employee involvement (VS/2019/0100)”, whose aim is to examine practices in the field of new solutions for working time arrangements in the public sector and disseminating them in partnership countries. It is a continuation of activities implemented in six countries: in Italy and Spain representing the South-European model of socio-economic relations, in Lithuania and Poland from the group of Central and Eastern European countries as well as Serbia and Northern Macedonia (Western Balkans) being in the pre-accession process to the European Union. 

The catalogue of good practices, on the other hand, aims to inspire social partners in individual countries with solutions operating in Europe. Therefore, it presents both standard solutions existing in the Member States’ legislation - although under the influence of various factors not sufficiently disseminated - as well as the latest solutions, often requiring advanced dialogue and social partnership between trade unions and employer organizations. Therefore, in the catalogue the reader will find - among the standard solutions: a description of the functioning of part-time work in the Netherlands or various solutions for the flexible working time arrangements in the partner countries. Following the European-wide tendency, there was a presentation of examples of reducing working hours by means of statutory regulations or collective bargaining. Therefore, it mentions the example of France, which already in the 90s decided to shorten statutory working hours to 35 hours a week, but also the initiative to introduce a similar solution in Poland, which may be inspiring for other Central and Eastern Europe countries. A source of a new perspective on working time and the quality of provided social services can also be the reduction to 30 hours of weekly working time in a successful experiment at a nursing home in Svartedalen, Sweden. An example of the most advanced solution agreed in social dialogue is the existence of arrangements in the metal sector in Germany allowing to reduce working time to 28 hours a week for up to two years, or the option of choosing between a salary increase (or a one-time bonus) and additional time off (a solution also known in Austria under the name Leisure option). For sceptics claiming that such solutions are not possible among the New Member States or among the candidate countries to the European Union, there are references to the solutions from Poland and Lithuania. By developing this catalogue, we are counting on reinforcing employee involvement in shaping regulations regarding decent working time in the public sector and greater involvement of social partners in promoting innovative initiatives regarding working time in the public sector. We hope that presenting specific examples of solutions and their effects will be a handy tool in negotiations with employers.

The project ENGAGED is co-financed from the European Union Funds, budget heading ‘Improving Expertise in the field of Industrial Relations’.  Grant agreement number: VP/2019/0100.


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