clock is counting down. The European Commission will decide later this year
whether the UK’s opt-out from the Working Time Directive will be removed, and
it is currently gathering evidence to inform its decision.
December, Fernando Pereira, the commissioner in charge of the review, asked the
Employment Lawyers Association and Personnel Today to find out what employers
in the UK think of the opt-out embodied in our working time regulations.
than 750 employers responded to our survey and the message for the commission
is very clear – eight out of 10 HR professionals do not want the opt-out to be
are grave concerns over the potential impact on business costs and
competitiveness, and two-thirds do not believe that full implementation of the
regulations would promote the health and safety of workers – the law’s original
the strength of the evidence, there is no ducking the rumours emanating from
Brussels – the UK’s unique opt-out from the Working Time Directive is likely to
is important to start planning for how its removal might affect your employment
practices, and HR has to be involved in shaping any changes to the regulations,
so they support rather than challenge our organisations.
businesses have increasingly cyclical workflows, and we must ensure that the
48-hour limit is averaged over 52 rather than 17 weeks. We also need a simpler
definition of work and insight into how the regulations might operate. When is
travel work, for example, and will we have to get staff to ‘clock in and out’?
we start thinking about it now, it will enable us to bring change should the
opt- out clause go, and give us the opportunity to develop positive
regulations. After all – as our coverage on pages 12-13 shows – we are not
going to tackle the productivity gap with a long-hours work culture.
Mike Broad, assistant editor of Personnel Today