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UK to keep working hours opt-out

Employers have welcomed news from Europe that the UK will retain its opt-out of the Working Time Directive.

MEPs voted in December to remove the UK’s opt-out from the part of the law that limits workers to a 48-hour average working week. But the Council of Ministers disagreed with the position, and conciliation talks have been taking place since 17 March.

Now those talks have ended without resolution, meaning the law will stay as it is, and the UK will retain its opt-out.

CBI deputy director-general John Cridland said: “We welcome the retention of the opt-out, which we have been calling for in London and Brussels. It allows people to make their own decision about the hours they work. Keeping the opt-out is a victory for common sense and is good for the UK economy”.

Construction firms – led by the British Constructional Steelwork Association – had been campaigning for the opt-out to be retained. They feared increased project times and a loss of competitiveness if they were forced to adhere to the weekly hours cap.