EC plans to reform working time directive anger UK employers

The
European Commission has suggested reforming UK’s
opt-out from the Working Time Directive, requiring trade unions, not individual
employees, to decide whether staff could exercise their right to opt out of the
48-hour maximum working week.

Under
EC proposals, employees in non-unionised companies would have to renew their
opt-out every year, and opt-outs during probationary periods would be banned.
The commission also plans to return to the possibility of scrapping the opt-out
altogether in five years’ time.

The
plans were condemned by employer groups.

The
Institute
of Directors
(IoD) said the move was a
"back to the 1970s" approach.

The
IoD’s head of European and
regulatory affairs, James Walsh, said: "We need a more flexible approach
to employee-employer relations. Scrapping the working hours opt-out and handing
more powers to the unions takes us in completely the wrong direction.

"Some
76 per cent of IoD members
say they would not be able to run their companies as efficiently if the opt-out
were to go. The Government will have our strong support in fighting these
misguided proposals," he said.

Employment
partner at law firm Rowe Cohen, Nichola
Upperton-Evans, said the
move would mean more costs and paperwork for businesses.

European
commissioners meet this week to look at the issue.

The
Federation of Small Businesses branded the proposal "a bureaucratic
nightmare" because of a new requirement for employers to ‘police’ the
hours put in by anyone who agreed to waive the 48-hour rule.

It
is believed that UK
attempts to block the changes will be backed by Poland,
Malta
and Cyprus.

 

 

 

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