House of Lords backing for keeping work time opt-out

A House of Lords report has recommended that the UK retain its opt-out to
the European Working Time Directive.

The voluntary opt-out gives individual workers the choice to decide if they
want to work more than 48 hours a week.

The chairman of the Lords sub-committee, Lord Williamson of Horton, said
that the opt-out is one of the best ways for the UK to preserve the flexibility
it needs to compete globally.

"Other EU member states regularly extend the 48-hour week by collective
agreement. But in the UK only 36 per cent of the total workforce, and only 22
per cent of those employed in the private sector, are covered by collective
agreements," he said.

"On the whole the opt-out seems to work well. We haven’t found
significant evidence of adverse health and safety consequences. The Government
should look at ways of preventing workers from being coerced into working long
hours if they don’t want to. But it’s important that those who want to work
overtime should be able to do so."

Williamson said employers should also investigate more innovative ways of
avoiding long-hours working and encourage a good work-life balance.

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