The employee`s actual working time in the context of his professional activity is defined by the Labour Code as a period during which the employee is at the disposal of the employer and respects its policies without being able to freely carry out his personal activities. However, if the time required for meals and breaks meets these criteria, they are considered as actual working time. 35 hours per week equals©1607 hours per year. The average duration©of 44 hours may be exceeded within the limit of 46 hours over a period of 12 consecutive weeks in one of the following cases: Example: Over a period©of 3 weeks, the employee must take at least 3 consecutive 24-hour©weekly rest periods©. The duration of work is assessed in relation to the actual working time of the worker during his activity. This is different from time spent in the workplace. It is a measure of quality of life at work that is not necessarily legislated. This simply forces a break time of 20 minutes for 6 hours of effective work per day. For example, if an employee has to work 48 hours per week for 6 weeks and then works 40 hours over the next 6 weeks, their actual working time is actually 44 hours per week on average over a period of 12 consecutive weeks. In all public or private industrial and commercial enterprises, liberal professions, civil societies, trade unions, associations, agricultural, craft and cooperative enterprises, enterprises in the agricultural sector, the legal working time is 35 hours per week, regardless of their workforce. In some cases, however, it is possible to work overtime.
In addition to the question whether the dismissal was justified, the question raised in that case concerned the framework for calculating the maximum working time of 48 hours. Was this considering, as the employee argued and as the Court of Appeal held, that French law was incompatible with the Directive, since it does not allow the definition of 7 days to be limited to a calendar week? The law on the 35 hours was relaxed by the decree of the Minister of Labour at the time, François Fillon, of 15 October 2002, which increased the quotas of overtime from 130 to 180 hours per year. These overtime quotas, negotiated at sectoral level and whose maximum limit is set by the Aubry law at 130 hours per worker per year, thus leave open a margin between the legal duration and the actual duration. Thus, under the Fillon decree, a 35-hour worker who works 180 hours of overtime per year works an average of 39 hours per week, practically the average weekly working time of full-time employees in the 1990s. In December 2004, the overtime quota was increased by decree to 220 hours per year. ©By way of derogation, the maximum weekly working time©may be increased© to a maximum of 60 hours in exceptional cases (subject©to the approval of the labour inspectorate). According to the provisions of public policy, the statutory break time, which is set at 20 minutes for 6 hours of actual work, is not considered as actual working time and does not give rise to remuneration. The exclusion of certain activities, such as breaks and meals, if they do not meet the above definition, does not necessarily imply the absence of appropriate remuneration, which may be provided for in a collective agreement. Working time shorter than the legal, contractual or contractual duration corresponds to overtime. A longer working time corresponds to overtime, for which remuneration must be increased. This legally consistent solution offers employers a great deal of flexibility in that it allows more than 48 hours of working time for 7 consecutive days when the schedule is fixed over 2 calendar weeks. Does this mean that an employer who subjects an employee to work 72 hours for more than two calendar weeks is not exposed to any risk? The answer is clearly no.
Otherwise©, the transfer of hours from one week to the next must not exceed© 3 hours and the cumulation of the hours transferred does not increase the total number of hours transferred©to more than 10 (23). The duration©of the intervention is considered as©©actual working time and is therefore©remunerated©©. The reference working time is 35 hours per week, i.e. 151.67 hours per month and 1,607 hours per year, except in certain collective agreements where the reference period may be both shorter and longer. In addition, company agreements may provide for a shorter duration of full-time employment.