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Failure of Working Time Directive in Social Care & Support Services: Actions needed

The implementation of EU Working Time Directive in the sector of social care and support services for persons with disabilities is facing critical challenges. Provision of personalized and community-based support requires flexible working patterns for staff working in the sector. To ensure this flexibility, service providers, who often operate under severe financial constraints, have no choice but to circumvent the Directive. This has direct consequences on the quality of services and working conditions. In order to make the Directive work in social care and support, it has to be adapted to the needs of the sector.

On November 23, 2017, the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) organized the Roundtable Discussion “Implications of the EU Working Time Directive (WTD) on the European Pillar of Social Rights.” The event, hosted by MEP Georgi Pirinski at the European Parliament, focused on a complex and important discussion: the impact of the WTD on the ability of service providers to deliver high quality care & support for persons with disabilities.

The discussion was built around the report, commissioned by EASPD’s European Observatory on Human Resources, on the implications of the WTD on workforce in social care and support services for persons with disabilities. The report was presented by Mr. James Churchill, Chair of the EASPD Interest Group on Workforce Development and Human Resources. He provided several examples of cases where the WTD does not work, and particularly noted the dangers of inaction, including the risk of reinstitutionalization, growth of unreported work and lower working standards.   

Ms. Simona Giarratano of the European Disability Forum welcomed the report and highlighted the fact that the rights of persons with disabilities to fully participate in the society and receive personalised support, as envisaged in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, should not be hindered but rather reinforced by European-level initiatives.

Mr. Sylvain Renouvel, Member of the Federation of European Social Employers, contributed to the discussion by providing examples from his personal experience as an employer in the sector of social care and support in France. According to him, certain labour requirements result in less flexibility for social care workers and employers. Coupled with budgetary limitations, these restrictions inevitably have a direct impact on the quality of services. Thus, there is a need to ensure sufficient funding for the increased cost of service provision.

MEP Ms. Renate Weber noted in her speech that the one-size-fits-all approach should not be used in the implementation of the WTD:  It is not possible to regulate all sectors in the same way. Clearly, the sector of social care and support for persons with disabilities is one of such exceptions and requires the use of a different approach - the human-rights approach.

In his concluding remarks, Secretary General of EASPD Mr. Luk Zelderloo called for bringing all stakeholders together in this discussion to both highlight the issue, but also -together- find solutions to make sure the rights of persons with disabilities are respected and professionals are able to work with decent working conditions.

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Note to editors

The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities is a non-profit European umbrella organization, established in 1996, and currently representing over 15,000 social and health services for persons with disabilities. EASPD advocates for effective and high-quality disability-related services in the field of education, employment and individualised support, in line with the UN CRPD principles, which could bring benefits not only to persons with disabilities, but to society as a whole.

For more information, please contact:

Asel Kadyrbaeva
EASPD Research and Development Officer
T. +32 2 233 77 22


Thomas Bignal
EASPD Policy Advisor
T. +32 2 233 27 23