European Commission decides future of UK’s opt-out rights

first_imgEuropean Commission decides future of UK’s opt-out rightsOn 1 Dec 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Employers and politicians are bracing themselves for an end to the UK’sopt-out from the Working Time Directive, which allows staff to waive theirright to work no more than 48-hours a week. The UK remains the only EU member country to have the opt-out and pressurehas been mounting in Europe to bring the UK into line with other states,restricting staff to a 48-hour working week. The European Commission hasembarked on a review of the directive and will rule on revisions to thelegislation by the end of November 2003. David Yeandle, deputy director of employment policy at the EngineeringEmployers Federation, said meetings with Fernando Pereira, the commissionerresponsible for the review, indicate that an end to the opt-out is inevitable.He said the EEF would be pushing for some sort of quid pro quo, however, suchas being able to average working hours across a year. “Given that the UK is the only country to take advantage of theopt-out, it will be a difficult battle to persuade others to allow it toremain,” said Yeandle. “We will be pressing for as long a lead timebefore that happens as possible to make the necessary changes and ideally to beable to average working hours over 52 weeks.” A poll in Personnel Today revealed that two-thirds of employers believe anend to the opt-out would increase labour costs, such as forcing companies whichoperate production lines to fall back on contract workers to keep theiroperations running. Others have welcomed the news, believing it signals a positive move towardsending the long-hours culture, which plagues the UK and is deemed to undermineproductivity. Paul Sellers, policy officer at the TUC, said the Government has littlechoice in the matter. “The Government has made a public commitment tostamp out the long-hours culture within five years and if it is going to meetthat target it is going to have to change the law,” he said. “But essentially we believe this is a piece of health and safety legislationand there should be no exemptions.” Related posts:No related photos.last_img