UK bids to keep Working Time Directive opt-out

The UK is ready to strike a deal with other EU member states and keep its opt-out from the Working Time Directive, according to newspaper reports.

Alistair Darling, trade and industry secretary, is said to be ready to strike a deal, provided he secures his main objective of “a legally watertight opt-out” at talks in Luxembourg today, reports the Financial Times.

A new proposal tabled by the Austrian EU presidency will argue that any employee who works more than 48 hours a week should be allowed to change their mind in an annual contract renewal. Employers would also have to explain why long hours were required.

But the paper reports that Vladimir Spidla, EU employment commissioner, wants to go further and let employees have a one-month “cooling off period” after starting a new job to decide whether they want to work more than 48 hours.

Spidla is also keen on an overall cap on the maximum length of the working week, with the UK indicating it could accept a maximum week of 65 hours, the paper said.


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