Charity lends weight to TUC campaign for abolition of 48-hour working time opt-out

The
individual opt-out allowing parents to work more than 48 hours a week must be
abolished because family life is suffering, according to the TUC and charity
Working Families.

A
new report, more time for families: tackling the long-hours crisis in UK
workplaces, revealed that six years after the introduction of the Working Time
Directive, there are still more employees working over-long hours than there
were in 1992.

It
is the families of long-hours employees who suffer the most, according to the
report, with overworked parents simply not having the time to see much of their
children during the week or spend much time on family activities at weekends.

The
TUC analysed the responses of 89 parents responding to a survey on the Working
Families website. More than four in 10 (44 per cent) said they regularly had to
work more than 48 hours a week.

In
an attempt to work more child-friendly hours, almost eight in 10 of the parents
(79 per cent) had asked their employers if they could work flexibly, yet only
40 per cent of these parents were aware that they had a legal right to ask to
change their hours.

Just
over four in 10 (43 per cent) of the requests to work flexibly were successful,
a quarter were altered in some way before being agreed, and almost a third (32
per cent) of the requests were rejected by employers.

TUC
general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Excessive hours are bad news for
everyone and especially damaging for workers with families. While ministers
remain wedded to the idea of maintaining the UK’s
individual opt-out, the children of long-hours parents will go on suffering. A
clampdown on employers abusing working time rules and the removal of the
opt-out would prove very popular with working parents.”

By Daniel Thomas

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