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Laing opts for 48 hour week

Laing O'Rourke plans monthly pay and maximum working week to meet EU directive

LAING O'Rourke is planning to revolutionise how the industry employs its builders by implementing a 48-hour working week and monthly pay packets for its 6,000strong site workforce.

In a document seen by Construction News, Laing O'Rourke said the move was a 'long-term plan to change the operative's position from a 'job to a career'.'

In the UK Laing O'Rourke employs operatives through 18 different payrolls with 100 different variations on terms and conditions.

The company plans to simplify the system by switching all weekly-paid operatives to a monthly basis over the next 18 months with pay rates 'depending on service and other measurement criteria' Laing O'Rourke is understood to have consulted construction union Ucatt at a regional and national level and sites in the north-west will be the testing ground for a switch to the new terms.

It is understood the pay and hours change has been sparked by the looming EU Working Time Directive, which could limit all construction sites to a 48-hour week.

The document states: 'To avoid a situation in 2005, Laing O'Rourke plc is implementing a 48-hour working week for the business. This will be structured as 48 hours worked (four x 10 hours Monday to Thursday and eight hours on Friday) where possible.'

The company has also agreed with the Inland Revenue on an across-the-board, tax-free dispensation to cover daily travel and subsistence allowances of £13.49.

The new conditions are understood not to cover Britain's biggest building site at Heathrow's T5, which has a separate deal.

Details of whether the industry will have to implement a maximum 48-hour working week are still to be decided.

The UK has an opt-out from the directive, which is now being scrutinised by the European Commission.

Draft amended legislation is expected to be published before the end of the month following further consultation.

Construction Confederation European Affairs director Sally Gibbins said: 'It appears Laing O'Rourke is well ahead of the game which is very sensible. But it is such a contentious issue it is unlikely to affect the industry until at least the end of 2005.'

If the UK opt-out is abolished, the European Construction Industry Federation is pushing for the time-scale for calculating the 48-hour week to be over a 12-month period rather than 17 weeks because of the seasonal nature of the industry.

Laing O'Rourke declined to comment.

following further consultation.

Construction Confederation European Affairs director Sally Gibbins said: 'It appears Laing O'Rourke is well ahead of the game, which is very sensible. But it is such a contentious issue it is unlikely to affect the industry until at least the end of 2005.'

If the UK opt-out is abolished, the European Construction Industry Federation is pushing for the time-scale for calculating the 48-hour week to be over a 12-month period rather than 17 weeks because of the seasonal nature of the industry.

Laing O'Rourke declined to comment.