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Fire Services: Working Hours

Volume 489: debated on Tuesday 17 March 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent discussions Ministers in his Department have had with members of the European Parliament on the effect on retained firefighters of the removal of the UK opt-out on the Working Time Directive. (263508)

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 are firmly of the view that this right should remain. We, through Council, have pressed this point during informal conciliation discussions with the European Parliament and will continue to do so as the formal process begins later this month.

I am aware of the widespread concern on this issue among retained firefighters, and 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.