Your news story and editorial comment on the Working Time Directive (WTD) present a fait accompli with regard to the WTD, which is far from certain (Personnel Today, 26 April).
The employment committee of the European Parliament is precisely that. It is not the full European Parliament (EP), and it will be member states in the Council of Ministers who make the decisions.
I cannot think of any employment proposal by the EP employment committee in the past 10 years that has not been amended to a greater or lesser extent by the Council of Ministers. Given that the meetings of the Council of Ministers are secret, it is difficult to be certain at this stage what will happen, or when.
What will be of help is if the HR community strengthens the resolve of DTI officials and ministers by showing them the opt-out is important and worth fighting for. Any UK HR campaign should include addressing the issue that the opt-out is not used in such a way that it penalises individuals who refuse to opt out. Arguments about individual choice may play well in the UK, but they hold little sway in the EU, where Christian Democratic tradition focuses on the collective and not the individual.
Similarly, arguments with inflated cost figures have always been unhelpful. Who can forget the famous ‘80,000 jobs at stake’ from the abolition of internal European Union duty free?
Lucy Lofting, HR director of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, who was quoted in your story, hit the right note. As HR, we need to address the very real issue of our long-hours culture, productivity and effectiveness.
The increasing polarisation of the WTD debate between the nonsense of ever-further reductions leading to the intolerable French 35-hour week and the opt-out without fair protection is unhelpful and does little credit to the HR profession.
Principal and co-founder
PRC & Landmark Alliance