Four in ten work more than 48 hours a week

in 10 employers report that some of their workers have agreed to work beyond
the 48-hour weekly limit set by the Working Time Directive, according to a
study published in IRS Employment Review.

research also shows employers are keen to keep the UK ‘opt out’ from the
directive, which is currently being reviewed by the European Commission.

findings of the research – conducted in May and June 2002 – emerge from a
survey of HR managers covering 389 staff groups in 162 public and private
sector organisations.

Employment Review managing editor, Mark Crail said: “Britain is renowned for
its long working hours but the picture, as our research shows, is more
complex.  Employers want flexibility to
meet changing market conditions and are keen to keep the UK opt out. But there
is also talk among manufacturing unions of resurrecting the campaign for a
shorter working week – spurred on by the introduction of a 35-hour maximum in

research shows that such a campaign has some way to go. Workers in this country
put in long hours through a combination of choice and necessity.”

findings include:

The typical basic working week for manual groups is 38 hours, compared with 37
hours for non-manual groups

Many organisations are using flexible working practices to meet customer and/or
staff needs. The most common arrangement is flexitime (37 per cent) followed by
variable hours (36 per cent)

Just under half of all respondents have at least some staff whose basic weekly
hours include work carried out during evenings, nights, early mornings,
weekends and/or bank holidays.

63 per cent of public sector organisations require staff to work at
non-standard times, reflecting the need for 24-hour cover in public services
such as the police and health services

Just over two-fifths of manufacturing firms and more than a third of private
sector firms do likewise

18 per cent of respondents have made changes to their working time during the
past three years

By Ben Willmott

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