CBI rubbishes claims of abused working time laws

The
CBI has hit back at trade union claims that there is widespread abuse of
working time rules, calling the TUC’s estimates ‘wildly overdone’.

Currently,
Europe’s working week is limited to 48 hours, but staff in the UK can choose to
‘opt-out’ of this.

The
TUC claims the law is widely abused, with one in three of those who have signed
an opt-out saying they were given no choice. 

However,
the CBI welcomed the Government’s commitment to maintaining the right for UK
employees to opt-out of the Working Time Directive (WTD), and said unions
should not use talk of abuse to deny UK staff the freedom to choose the hours
they work.

CBI
deputy director-general, John Cridland, said: “People should have the right to
say ‘no’ to long working hours, but they should also have the right to say
‘yes’."

He
added that any abuse of the directive put law-abiding firms at a competitive
disadvantage, and had to be stamped out.

The
CBI is now considering proposals to ensure that staff working long hours are
genuinely choosing to do so, and that firms do not breach the rules because
they misunderstand the law.

The
proposals to prevent abuse of the WTD are:


Preventing the opt-out from being a condition of an employment contract


Requiring opt-out agreements to state that the employee can rescind them at any
time, after a reasonable notice period


Pressing for a government awareness-raising campaign, so that employers and
staff know their rights and responsibilities under the directive.

By Michael Millar

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