A brief history of working time

By the time its implementation is complete, the Working Time Directive will
be almost 20 years old.  We look at the
potential impact of the changes still to come

The
effect of losing the opt-out on UK industry

Three
senior HR professionals explain how their industry would be affected if the EC
were to remove the UK’s opt-out from the Working Time Directive, which allows
employees to choose to work more than 48 hours a week.


Utilities

Paul
Pagliari
HR director at Scottish Water, believes losing the opt-out would
be disastrous.

"We
need our workforce to work if there is an emergency," he said.
"Public health and our ability to supply a service to the public depend on
it."

Pagliari
said many workers are happy to sign the opt-out, and are happy to work if there
is a need.

He
said the move may be an attempt to stop bad practice and a long-hours culture,
but believes a blanket ban is not the way to do this.

If
the opt-out is lost, he said, Scottish Water and other utilities will have to
plan cover better, and this will cost more.

"Losing
the opt-out is impractical, it is not the ideal solution. It will cause us real
operational difficulties," he said.


Construction and engineering

Lynda
Vaughan
, personnel and training manager at foundation and underground
engineers Bachy Soletanche, said removing the opt-out would hit the company
hard.

"We
rely on overtime to meet our client project deadlines," she said.
"With the scarcity of labour and skills and the ‘unsexy’ image of
construction among school leavers, it is increasingly hard to attract young
blood.

"Around
98 per cent of our current hourly-paid site labourers voluntarily sign opt-outs
– because they want the overtime. They live away from home and want to work the
maximum hours possible. It the opt-out was withdrawn it would affect their
lifestyle, give us recruiting problems, and probably make some people leave."

She
said increased costs would be transferred to the client, and work will take
longer to complete.


Banking and finance

Mark
Childs
, head of global compensation and benefits at investment firm
Fidelity, doubts that limiting the working week to 48 hours would change
anything.

He
said in the financial sector people who choose to work long hours, and the distinction
between work and home is increasingly being blurred as new technology allows
home working.

As
a result, Childs believes it will be difficult to stop the sector’s long-hours
culture, even if the opt-out is removed.

"If
people insist on working in the evenings, or calling in during their holidays,
they will. You can’t stop people working in their leisure time."

Linda Gregory, an official with banking union UNIFI, which
represents staff at Fidelity, said many in the sector already work more than 60
hours a week – without signing the opt-out.

Beyond the opt-out: more time to do the work

The Working Time Regulations which came into force in October 1998 were
effectively only a partial implementation of the European Working Time
Directive.

Certain sectors – road, rail, air, sea, inland waterway and lake transport,
sea fishing, offshore oil and gas exploitation, and doctors in training – were
excluded, and the legislation only partially met the requirements of the Young
Workers Directive.

Measures to extend protection to these areas have, however, now been
approved and the Government is consulting on their forthcoming implementation.

– You’ve been HAD The main piece of legislation is HAD – the Horizontal
Amending Directive.1 This will result in the full extension of the existing
Working Time Regulations to all non-mobile workers in the excluded transport,
fishing and offshore sectors.

– Air, sea and road More limited rights will be extended to mobile workers,
with any omissions catered for by four additional new directives – the Sector
Specific Aviation Directive,2 Seafarers’ Directive,3 Seafarers’ Enforcement
Directive, and Road Transport Directive.4

– Junior doctors HAD will also result in the application of all the
provisions of the Working Time Regulations to junior doctors,5,6 although
implementation of the 48-hour week will be phased, with full implementation due
by August 2012.

– New regulations The Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2003,7 are due to
come into force on 1 August 2003. The provisions relating to junior doctors’
hours are to take effect from 1 August 2004.

– Young workers Consultation began in December 2000 on the implementation of
those provisions of the Young Workers Directive affected by the UK Government’s
initial opt-out. A further consultation document, based on the draft Working
Time (Amendment) Regulations 2002, closed on 6 September 2002, and the
remaining provisions of the Young Workers Directive are now expected to come
into force in the spring of 2003.8

The main impact of the amending legislation will be a ban on young workers
(those aged 16 or 17) working more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week,
and at night between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am.

Source: www.xperthr.co.uk

Working towards a culture change

Where working time legislation is going – and where it has been

The future…

August 2012…………. Junior doctors limited to a 48-hour week6

March 2005………….. Deadline for implementation of EC Road Transport
Directive

August 2004………….. Junior doctors limited to a 58-hour week5

December 2003…….. Deadline for EC Aviation Directive implementation

November 2003…….. Deadline for the European Commission’s report and
proposals on the 48-hour week individual opt-out exemption

August 2003………….. Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2003 come
into force for most excluded sectors7

Spring 2003…………… Remaining provisions of the Young Workers
Directive come into force8

January 2003…………. Consultation closes on extending the Working Time
Regulations

The present…

October 2002………… UK Government publishes draft Working Time
(Amendment) Regulations 2003 and launches consultation

September 2002……   Merchant
Shipping (Hours of Work) Regulations 2002 come into effect, implementing provisions
of EC Seafarers’ Directive

March 2002………….. EC Road Transport Directive adopted4

The past…

October 2001………… Regulations to remove 13-week qualifying period for
minimum paid annual leave entitlement come into force

November 2000…….. EC Aviation Directive adopted2

August 2000………….. EC Horizontal Amending Directive adopted1

December 1999…….. EC Seafarers’ Directive adopted3

November 1998……. European Commission issues proposal to cover excluded
sectors and activities

October 1998………… Working Time Regulations 1998 come into force

April 1998…………….. New Labour Government issues fresh consultation
document on Working Time Regulations

December 1996…….. UK Government issues consultation document on measures
to implement Directive

November 1996……. European Court of Justice rejects UK Government’s
challenge

June 1994…………….. EC Young Workers Directive adopted

March 1994…………… UK Government applies to European Court of Justice
to have Directive annulled

November 1993……. EC Working Time Directive adopted

Source: www.xperthr.co.uk

Weblinks

Excluded sectors: www.dti.gov.uk/er/work_time_regs/exsectors.htm

Government consultation document on proposals for implementing HAD: www.dti.gov.uk/er/work_time_regs/hadconsult.htm.
Deadline for responses: 31 January 2003

Young Workers Directive draft regulations: www.dti.gov.uk/er/individual/youngconsult_regs.pdf

To take part in our working time survey, click here. Survey
closes 9th December 2002

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