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
– 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.