Working week opt-out may be scrapped

By Becky Paskin

- Last updated on GMT

Working week opt-out may be scrapped
A proposal to scrap the opt-out clause in the working week guidelines may see businesses limit their staff to working just 48 hours

Members of the European Parliament have this week voted to limit the maximum hours a person can work to 48 hours per week, scrapping the ‘opt-out’ rule that so many hospitality businesses are grateful for.

Employees working in hotels, bars and restaurants often sign an ‘opt-out’ clause in their contracts, allowing them to work more than the recommended working week of 48 hours.

The vote today at the Employment and Social Affairs Committee is a major step toward passing the proposal, which will now go to a final vote in December where a Parliamentary decision will be made.

John Cridland, CBI Deputy Director-General, said: “Currently, people can work more than 48 hours a week if they choose. In hard times, they can do extra hours to support their family. In a company fighting for survival, they can go the extra mile. People in medical research can work longer if they wish. The proposals would end this, replacing freedom with frustration.

“We think people can look at their own circumstances and make their own decision about working longer hours. We call this common sense, and it doesn’t need amending by Brussels.”

British MEPs and Prime Minister Gordon Brown have all expressed their determination to keep the opt-out clause negotiated in 1993.

Business Secretary Peter Mandelson, said: "We will continue to stand firm to protect the opt-out to the Working Time Directive`s 48-hour maximum working week. People must remain free to earn overtime if they wish and businesses must have the flexibility to cope during busy times."

The proposal will require a majority vote for it to be passed through European Parliament, at which time businesses will have three years to limit the amount of hours their employees work.

Related topics: Legislation

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