The CBI will urge the Government today (Thursday) to protect
the rights of UK
employees to work more than 48 hours a week if they wish to.
It will publish a report showing that employers need to keep
the freedom to ask their staff to opt-out of the weekly hours limit, set out in
the EU working time directive.
The European Commission will review the individual‘s right to opt out by
November this year, raising fears of another increase in labour regulation.
The CBI report reveals the findings of a CBI-Pertemps survey
of 400 UK firms where
60 per cent said removal of
the opt-out right would have ‘a significant or severe’ impact on
Companies said it would also undermine their ability to meet
customer needs, respond to demand or launch new commercial ventures.
CBI director-general Digby
Jones has written to Chancellor Gordon Brown and Trade Secretary Patricia
Hewitt warning that the issue is "the next test of the Government’s stated
commitment to labour market flexibility".
Jones, who spent yesterday in Brussels lobbying on the
issue, also accuses trade unions of misrepresenting their members by
campaigning for further restrictions on hours.
The CBI report finds there is no evidence that a significant
number of employees want to lose the opt-out, and some firms believe removal will cause staff resentment.
This week Personnel Today revealed that behind-closed-doors
discussions between Fernando Pereira, the European official leading the review of
the opt-out and John Evans of the Employment Lawyers Association, indicate that
it is unlikely to be scrapped completely (news, June 24).
By Ben Willmott