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EC imposes tough limit on rules for UK optout


THE EUROPEAN Commission is poised to hit the industry by introducing strict limits on the UK's opt-out from the 48-hour week under the Working Time Directive.

Unions will have a veto over any waiver of the 48-hour week rule in any company where the employer already recognises and negotiates with trade unions, under proposals leaked this week.

But a Construction Confederation spokesman said: 'We don't think these proposals are practical because in the UK only about 25 per cent of the workforce is represented by unions. It is more suited to the likes of France or Germany.'

Employees can only work a maximum 65 hours a week, and individuals who wish to work more than 48 hours will have to renew their opt-out with their employer every year.

The Department of Trade and Industry has said it will fight to retain flexibility and the Government is set to oppose the proposals, which will be formally unveiled next week.

The UK has formed an alliance with Germany and accession countries including Malta and Cyprus, which should guarantee the proposals are blocked.

But the unions have said that the proposals do not go far enough and want to see the opt-out abandoned completely.