Work hours law fails to shorten UK working week

More people are working in excess of 48 hours a week than 10
years ago, despite the introduction of the Working Time Directive, research by
the TUC shows.

Nearly 4 million employees work more than the directive’s
48-hour limit – 350,000 more than in 1992.

One in four men work more than 48 hours and one in 10 works
even longer. Over 1 million men work more than 55 hours a week and one in 25
works in excess of 60 hours.

The UK tops the European long hours league and is the only
country that allows staff to opt out of the 48 hour limit.

TUC general secretary John Monks warns employers they will
have to organise their workforce so they can work shorter hours, because in
2003 the EU will end the UK’s opt-out.

He said: "Britain’s long hours culture is a disgrace.
It leads to stress, ill-health and family strains, Even worse, it is an
indictment on how badly we manage work in the UK."

The report, About Ti me: A New Agenda for Working Life,
also reveals a class divide in work hours.

More than half of all managerial and professional employees
working extra hours say they are doing so to deal with excess workloads, while
70 per cent of skilled and manual employees report that they are earning
overtime pay.

"Half the country is caught in a vicious circle of low
pay, low productivity and long hours with the other half trapped in their
offices tackling even bigger in-trays. Other countries produce more, earn more
and work far fewer hours. We could do the same if employers, unions and
Government work together," said Monks.

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