HR must not throw in towel over working time opt-out

I am writing in response to your front page story ‘UK opt-out on scrap-heap as the EU votes to reform WTD’ (Personnel Today, 26 April).

Recent events in the European Parliament are indeed worrying for large sectors of UK industry.

As a significant employer within the construction industry, and as president of a trade association representing more than 1,300 companies with a combined turnover in excess of £3bn and a workforce of 50,000-plus, I am well aware of the negative effect that phasing out the opt-out under the Working Time Regulations would have on the service provided to clients by my company and my members.

Indeed, the Heating and Ventilating Contractors’ Association – along with other construction trade bodies – has lobbied long and hard, at national and European level, for the retention of the opt-out – a campaign that has been greeted with increasing sympathy by our colleagues in other EU states.

While the recent vote against the opt-out in the European Parliament’s employment committee has to be seen as a setback, it is very far from being the end of the story. It is simply one stage in the first reading of the Working Time Directive review.

In other words, there are many more battles to be fought. This is not the time, therefore, for any of us to throw in the towel – or for the UK government to soften its stance against the opt-out.

Michael J Taylor
President, Heating and Ventilating Contractors’ Association
HR director, Lorne Stewart Plc

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