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European commission warns of working time directive failure.

THE EUROPEAN Commission is considering a crackdown on hauliers who claim to be 'self-employed' and so are exempt from the European Union (EU) working time directive, but who are de facto employed by a transport company. In a report on the directive's operation, Brussels stressed "working time rules should be applied to 'false' self-employed drivers". It noted that "many member states" have failed to clearly write into their national laws "the particular distinction" between self-employed and employed drivers insisted upon by the 2002 directive. The report stressed: "A self-employed driver is closely defined: he has a Community (EU) licence/professional transport authorisation, is entitled to work for himself, is not tied to an employer by a contract or any other type of working hierarchical relationship, is free to organise his working activities, generates income from ... profits, may cooperate with other self-employed drivers and has commercial relations with several customers." Without making sure these rules are followed, this issue could cause "an artificial fragmentation within the structure of the profession", said the Commission.

Brussels also considered whether the self-employed exemption should be scrapped, but has sat on the fence. Although it found "self-employed drivers work longer than [employed] road transport workers ... other factors contributing to fatigue--stress, health problems and a lack of support--were more prevalent amongst the self-employed." It continued: "A reduction in working time could undoubtedly help reduce fatigue. However, this could lead to higher levels of stress, as the self employed driver tries to achieve more in less time in order to maintain his profitability."
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Author:Nuthall, Keith
Publication:International News
Date:May 1, 2007
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