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European working time directive
  1. S Omland
  1. Correspondence to: Sigrid Omland Department of Ophthalmology, Ulleval University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; sigridomland{at}hotmail.com

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A Norwegian perspective

Working time limits in the Nordic countries, with their long, social democratic traditions and strong labour unions, are among the world’s lowest.

As early as 1919 the Norwegian parliament passed a statute enacting a limit of 8 hours’ work a day for a maximum of 6 days a week. The general Norwegian working week has later been reduced to 5 days, with Saturdays and Sundays free.

Exempt from these limitations have been professions demanding 24 hour reaction capability, such as hospital doctors, who for many years had virtually unlimited working hours, very much like in the present British system.

More restrictive rules have gradually been established, and the Norwegian hospital doctor’s general working week is now limited to 38 hours. Doctors consenting to work up to 50 hours a week are, however, allowed to do so. Maximum continuous on-call duty is limited to 19 hours.

The exemption from the 38 hour limit has had the effect that most …

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