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Lords say 'keep working time opt-out'


A PARLIAMENTARY inquiry into the European working time directive has come down in favour of retaining the UK's optout from the legislation.

A report on the directive by the House of Lords' European Committee published last week concluded: 'The flexibility offered by the voluntary individual opt-out is an important element in preserving competitiveness.

'We therefore recommend that the voluntary individual opt-out should be retained, but kept under periodic review.'

The peers'conclusions are a boost for the Construction Confederation, which has been lobbying to retain the opt-out from the 48 hour week because of the feared impact on employers and the industry's skills shortage.

The confederation also warned the committee that curbing overtime could encourage workers to take other jobs without informing their employers.

The committee stated: 'We believe that it is most important that the reasonable rights of those who wish to work longer hours should also be respected where extra work is available for them to do.'

And the report also called for the Commission to remove its requirement for collective agreement with unions to enable the four-month reference periods - the time used to calculate the average 48 hour week - to be extended to up to 12 months for certain sectors.

The Commission will publish its opinion on the future of the opt-out in the autumn.