EC revives work time row with four-point plan

The European Commission has put the Working Time Directive right back on the
agenda by suggesting proposals for a crackdown on so-called abuses of the

Currently Europe’s working week is limited to 48-hours, but individuals can
choose to ‘opt out’ of this.

Now four amendments to the current system have been suggested by the

– tightening the conditions under which individuals can choose to opt out

– allowing changes on the basis of collective agreement between employers
and employees

– retaining the individual opt-out where no collective agreement is reached

– remove the opt-out altogether.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber hailed the decision as "a defeat
for the British Government, which has argued that the opt-out should simply

However, the CBI has pledged to "fight tooth and nail" against the
removal of the opt-out. And David Yeandle, deputy director of policy at the
manufacturers’ organisation EEF said firms should have a contingency plan in
place should the opt-out go.

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