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Working Time Directive

Volume 716: debated on Wednesday 27 January 2010


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the European Commission is considering ending the opt-out from the working time directive; and what their estimate is of the cost to the United Kingdom’s economy and the effect on personal incomes if the opt-out is ended. [HL1438]

Loss of the individual’s right to opt-out of the 48-hour maximum working week (as set out in the working time directive) would cost billions in terms of lost pay to individuals, which is one reason why this Government would not support the end of the opt-out. Over 3 million employees choose to make use of this flexibility and we believe that it is right that they should be able to do so if they wish, provided the choice is voluntary.

There is no Commission proposal to remove the opt-out.

We have always accepted, however, that other issues on the directive remain since the negotiations failed, in particular the need to address two ECJ judgments on treatment of residential on-call time and compensatory rest that continue to cause problems for many member states. We would be happy to engage with new Commission ideas on those issues but our view on the opt-out has not changed.