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Working Hours: Fire Services

Volume 488: debated on Monday 2 March 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will hold discussions with Shropshire and Wrekin Fire Authority on the effect of proposed changes to the EU Working Time Directive on Shropshire's retained firefighters. (258263)

The UK Government recognise that losing the individual’s right to opt-out of the 48 hour working week as set by the working time directive, would have a detrimental effect on the hours which firefighters working the retained duty system could be available for duty, especially the substantial numbers who work full-time for their primary employer. Many other workers also use this important flexibility and so we remain firmly of the view that this right should remain. We, along with a majority of other member states will be fighting for the retention of the opt-out as this dossier progresses through the European negotiation process.

I am very aware of the widespread concern on this issue among retained firefighters. Officials both from this Department and the Department for Communities and Local Government have worked very closely with the Retained Firefighters’ Union and will continue to keep them informed throughout the negotiations.