The UK’s long working hours culture is "a national disgrace",
claimed the TUC general secretary John Monks last week.
Monks is calling for the Government to remove the employee opt-out clause
from the Working Time Directive. He said: "Employers left to their own
devises will allow the inflexible, excessive hours culture to continue.
"In the absence of more effective regulations, workers have no choice.
State intervention and regulations are essential for fairness – without it
employers hold all the cards."
Speaking at the About Time conference, John Cridland, deputy
director-general of the CBI, claimed the opt-out clause was essential for
providing staff with a choice.
"We believe the aim of the regulations is to protect vulnerable workers
from exploitation – to give them the right to say ‘no’," he said. "So
we will oppose any attempts to remove the UK’s opt out.
"It is about giving employees the right to choose. We want employees to
have the right and we want employers and staff to have flexibility to find
working arrangements to suit them both."
The European Commission is set to review the operation of the employee opt-out
in 2003. The UK is the only European country to use the opt-out clause.