In Ville de Nivelles v Matzak, Matzak (M) is a firefighter, who is required to be on standby at certain times, which is unpaid, other than when carrying out firefighting duties. When on-call, the employer requires that M be contactable and report to the fire station within 8 minutes, meaning that his activities during standby are restricted. The ECJ held that M’s stand-by time is ‘working time’ under the Working Time Directive. The determining factor in such circumstances is the requirement that the worker be physically present at the place determined by the employer and be immediately available to work. Here, the employer’s requirements mean M’s ability to devote himself to his personal and social interests are limited, which is different to stand-by duty where a worker simply has to be contactable.
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