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EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT SET TO SCRAP WORKING TIME OPT OUT

13/05/2005

The European Parliament has voted to scrap a key opt-out clause of the Working Time Directive.
The current proposals would make it illegal for British employees to work more than 48 hours a week even if both employer and employee agree to it. The 48-hour week is presently defined in the legislation as being worked out over a four-month average, but TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Unions would have to concede that the average would be calculated over 12 months, not the current 17 weeks."
This does mean that employees can work more than 48 hours in busy periods as long as the time is made up over the year.
Chris Parnham, director of ILLICO Events, said: "The changes in the Directive will cause problems for irresponsible employers, who work staff too hard, to the point of early burn-out. It is possible to manage events efficiently and responsibly to the benefit of the client and your staff."
An M&IT Working Time Directive Survey has found that more than a third (35.5 per cent) of event organisers have already opted out of the directive, while 63 per cent say they would be willing to do so if asked to by an employer. The survey also finds that nearly half of organisers (47 per cent) presently work more than the Directive's 48 hours a week on average.
The proposals will go back to the European Commission and be subject to a vote in the Council of Ministers. The British government, that has campaigned to retain the opt-out, hopes to form a blocking minority in the Council.


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