In relation specifically to doctors, nurses and ambulance staff, we anticipate that the impact of ending the opt-out would be low as it is not widely used in these fields. However, the opt-out is used widely across the economy with over 3 million employees in the UK choosing to work longer hours. Its loss to the economy as a whole would therefore be a major blow and so the Government remain committed to fight for the continuation of this important flexibility.
The UK is one of 14 member states that enables workers to opt out of the maximum 48-hour working week, should they wish to do so. This flexibility is used widely across the economy.
The Government remain determined to fight for the retention of this important flexibility, which benefits employers and employees alike. The European Parliament's vote is to be regretted, but it is very far from the end of the matter. A large majority of member states share the UK's view that there can be no question of accepting the amendments proposed by the European Parliament, and we will continue to defend the opt-out in the process of conciliation between the Council and Parliament that will now follow.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to members of the European Parliament about the proposal to end the United Kingdom's opt-out from the Working Time Directive; and what representations they have made about the possible effect on farmers and those who are content to work longer hours. [HL763]
The UK is one of 14 member states that enable workers to opt out of the maximum 48-hour working week, should they wish to do so. This flexibility is used by over 3 million employees in the UK across many sectors (including agriculture) who choose to work longer hours. Loss of this opt-out would therefore cost the UK billions of pounds both in costs to industry and in lost earnings.
The Government made numerous representations to Members of the European Parliament as well as to other member states in the run-up to the European Parliament's Second Reading vote in December.
The Government remain committed to fight for the continuation of this important flexibility and will be calling on the European Council to reject the damaging amendments on the working time common position adopted by the European Parliament.